Marlene van Niekerk se Agaat (2004) as 'n postkoloniale plaasroman = Marlene van Niekerk's Agaat (2004) as a postcolonial farm novel.
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This study examines Agaat (2004), the second novel in the oeuvre of Marlene van Niekerk, as both a postcolonial text and a farm novel. Firstly a theoretical perspective is given on postcolonialism, with specific reference to typical phenomena in Afrikaans postcolonial literature. Subsequently, a short historical overview is given of the Afrikaans farm novel by distinguishing between "normative" farm novels and "contesting" farm novels. Typical characteristics of the Afrikaans farm novel are also discussed. By discussing three key aspects of Marlene van Niekerk's Agaat, I demonstrate why Agaat can be seen as a postcolonial text and how this novel differs from earlier Afrikaans farm novels. The first aspect is the representation of coloured people within the household, specifically focussing on Agaat Lourier's powerful role as worker for the De Wet family on Grootmoedersdrift, as well as the hierarchical shift of Agaat's position on the farm from worker to owner of the farm after Milla de Wet's death. In Agaat (2004) the coloured worker is given a voice, something that did not readily occur in earlier farm novels in the first half of the twentieth century (Coetzee, 2000: 2). An important question that receives attention in this study, is how the identity of Agaat is formed by Milla who trains Agaat to behave in a certain way. Does Agaat lose her identity when she is colonised by Milla mimicking Milla's behaviour, and does she then become a product of Milla becoming "almost the same, but not quite" (Bhabha, 1994: 86)? The second key aspect deals with the role and representation of women characters in Agaat (2004). Here attention is paid to Agaat and Milla who jointly rule the farm and its inhabitants resulting in a constant power struggle between these two women. In Agaat (2004) patriarchal authority is undermined and the relationship between Milla and Agaat, as Neil Cochrane (2005: 216) points out, can be seen as a replica of the relationship between the coloniser (Milla) and the colonised (Agaat). The third key aspect focuses on land and landownership, by referring to relevant literature such as Ampie Coetzee's 'n Hele os vir 'n ou broodmes. Grond en die plaasnarratief sedert 1595 (2000). The issue of land ownership is foregrounded in Agaat (2004), as in lM Coetzee's Disgrace (1999), when Agaat becomes the owner of the farm after Jakkie (Milla's son) returns to Canada where he works as an ethnomusicologist. With my focus on the three aspects mentioned above I assess Marlene van Niekerk's contribution to the development of the Afrikaans farm novel within a postcolonial context.