The Narratives Which Define Characters Traveling

Ernesto Guevara’s “Motorcycle Diaries”, Jonathan Nkala’s “The Crossing” and the movie titled “Thelma & Louise” are three varying narratives that can be analysed in order to discover the dynamism of character relative to travelling. Moreover, the exposition to different societies, cultures and classes is mainly configured within the storylines of the mentioned narratives. Characters such as Ernesto, Khumbu and Thelma undergo a degree of dynamism that is identical and centred on liberation. With reference to the mentioned characters, this essay will be focused on the dynamism of personality relative to the experience of travelling.

There exists a common urge that drives all the mentioned characters to becoming free individuals in all three narratives. I believe it is vital to deal with the experiences of each character separately until a common deduction can be clearly made regarding the lives of these characters. To achieve this deduction, Paul Theroux’s idea of travel will be some sort of a guide for the desired practicality of understanding this essay’s focus.

Theroux believes that travelling is typically human: the need to move, to gratify interest or bring comfort to one’s fears, to modify life’s situations, to be a stranger as well as make friends with someone, to familiarize with an outlandish landscape, risking the unknown and observing the outcomes.

Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s Experiences of Travelling

For Ernesto and his friend Alberto, the initial motive of their tour around South America was to satisfy their curiosity about the country they have only read about in books.

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The two young men belonged to the more privileged group of people and one can say that their travelling caused them to become observant of situations that the non-privileged faced. Beginning their journey in Buenos Aires which means “Fair winds”, the nine months that the journey lasted can be idealised as the birth of the revolutionary Ernesto who became determined to fight for fairness.

The political situations that caused many people in Chile, Peru and other countries to live in misery, sparked a feeling of injustice as they became strangers in their own country (Darmingly & Griffault, p.7). Although the innocence of their journey traversed to Guevara’s transformation to becoming the “Che” which is an abbreviation for the name Jose meaning “God will increase”, it is important to delve more into what actually transpired as Ernesto became the revolutionary that he is known as.

From Ernesto’s diarised writings we learn a lot about the political situation of Chile other than of other countries he travelled to and from this we can deduct that this was the place that caused Che to ultimately believe that an armed revolution was needed to solve the problems he saw. The irony about Chile and its situations was that it was a beautiful country, it looked rich but there existed a large number of its people who suffered more especially because there was a big problem of healthcare.

From also learning that Alberto and Guevara spent a long time in Venezuela, we may also deduct that because the country was ruled by an army since the year 1948 (Darmingly & Griffault, p.9) the prolonged stay in Venezuela may have maximized his belief of thinking that it is through an armed revolution that the problems in his continent may be resolved. I strongly concur with Ernesto’s views here because it would be close to impossible to negotiate the handing over of power and exercise of justice for the helpless in a country where soldiers have assumed total control. Looking at how Boko-Haram continues with its lawless endeavours in Nigeria which is not a failed state, one can think that the army that was in control of Venezuela may have been responsible for the situation in Venezuela during that time.

Thelma’s Transformation During Her Travel

A timid and submissive wife became a totally independent outlaw alongside her unmarried friend Louise. In the movie “Thelma & Louise”, we learn a lot about how widespread the female figure had been subjected by the patriarchy practiced even by the law enforcers. Like Ernesto and Alberto, the two women’s intention was to simply have a great time exploring the countryside of America but change took place. Louise was not controlled by her boyfriend Jimmy and this immediately tells us that she unlike her friend, Louise was independent and strong enough on her own. Thelma might have thought that he had left her monster husband at home until she met Harlan who nearly rapes her outside at the roadhouse parking lot although he has been acting like a gentleman since they met.

Disturbed by Louise, we learn how intense the undermining of women existed not only in this scene but in other scenes as well. Thelma gradually becomes a rebel possibly because of the manipulative, controlling and deceitful men she is involved with. To comfort her fears, we may deduct that Thelma finally found comfort to her fear of living without a man and being the timid, submissive and loving woman she has always been. We may say that her decision to leave Darryl’s (her husband) house was the first decision she made to become a less fearful woman because she engaged her need to move although she was a housewife. The dynamism of her character can also be seen as another form of movement because she was naïve and passive but as a traveller she became daringly active and challenging.

Becoming liberated from male dominance was the main focus from which Thelma and Louise did not deviate even when the assumingly polite police man tried to negotiate some form of trust with them. By portraying himself as their only hope, the police man is seen as a figure who does not lead them to destruction (Althouse, 1992, p.759) but the women lock him in the back of his cruiser’s boot. This act is symbolic of the liberation that the women desired for themselves in the sense that by leaving the police officer behind, they were also leaving all the other men that could not be any genuinely helpful and polite to them. This is emphasized by Louise’s polite rejection of Jimmy’s proposal of marriage since the image given about marriage in the movie, is that of total and unloving male dominance over a woman.

Referring back to the scene where Thelma was nearly raped by Harlan in contrast with the police department’s efforts to arrest the two women for the murder of Thelma’s potential rapist, a deep concern rises. Thelma could have been raped outside the roadhouse and this thought suggests that Harlan was confident enough of violating Thelma however he wanted without being fearful of an arrest. Clearly the women were going to be arrested or even killed without their side of the story being heard, and such is a socio-political concern that hints to the viewer that women were oppressed by patriarchy.

Khumbu’s Life as a Boarder Jumper

Is the governing system ever merciful to black people? And are black people merciful to each other? Perhaps one should instead ask if there is salvation even for black Christians if we look at the representation of Khumbu’s life in Nkala’s “The Crossing”. As a young man who grew up being taught that he has to wait for God to provide that which he needs, Jacob Banda who was a friend of Khumbu suggested that they traverse to South Africa from their home country Zimbabwe. To gratify the need for survival because of living in a country where the means for survival were an experience of daily poverty, Jacob’s knowledge of possible job opportunities in South Africa inspired the two to illegally leave their country.

As young men who were raised in Christian principled families, they decided to lie and continue with their mission. As strangers to the people who lived in their country yet worked in South African farms, the two made friends with whom they travelled enjoyably to the boarder. Crossing the border traversed Khumbu to being alone and without a friend since Jacob was taken into the river without Khumbu’s awareness. We learn from the performance that by the time Khumbu had crossed the river, he had learned to overcome his fears so much that he would go around looking for work. Despite not having the proper documentation that qualified him to live in South Africa, Khumbu did not cease to riskfully look for employment.

As a different being from the characters whose lives have already been discussed in this essay, Khumbu belonged to a group of people who were not favoured by the system. Moreover, as a foreigner he was treated with contempt by the black truck driver who gave him a lift to Cape Town where Khumbu was to obtain his asylum. Clearly Khumbu’s mission can be submerged under Guevara’s mission to help those who were caused to live in misery while Guevara travelled around his country.

From Khumbu’s life, we learn that for him to obtain proper documentation in his country was quite hard because of the distance he had to travel. One may also wonder why he and his friend chose to rather risk their lives instead of travel to Harare to apply for their passports but Khumbu’s words may lead us to the answer. As Nkala narrates, living in Zimbabwe is dangerous and he humorously adds that it is also illegal.

This statement carries a symbolic message that should not be missed in relation to the reasons why the young man decided to illegally cross the border. The narrated statement may suggest to the audience that if they would have to go to Harare or Bulawayo to obtain their passports, their lives would hopelessly end anyway. Directly travelling to South Africa seemed to be more a journey that had hope for survival as compared to that of simply obtaining a passport. Perhaps the young men were scared of losing their lives to starvation of other unmentioned occurrences that they knew.

One aspect that caught my attention the most is that there is provision for illegal immigrants in South Africa but if one is caught without an asylum, he or she would be deported to their home country. If the situations of one country are known of through media especially in the case of Zimbabwe being so impoverished, why is it that the governance of South Africa fails to consider such things and instead transport illegal immigrants to Cape Town so that they could get proper documentation?

Furthermore, the tearing of Khumbu’s asylum document raises the question of whether our country’s policing force is literate enough to be aware of what they ought to and ought not to do. Khumbu’s asylum was his private property and through that document, he had been granted the official right to become recognized as a legal foreigner in South Africa. If Khumbu’s right to be considered as a legal person in South Africa had to receive the advocacy of her white lady boss Margaret, then surely the independence of foreigners in South Africa is not a matter of documentation alone.

Foreign people’s rights who have the legal documentation to be in South Africa have to be respected by the policing force since the Khumbu’s experience hint a blunder in the country’s policing system. More questions can be raised regarding the possibility of the illegal border crossings that occur as well.

Is the system turning a blind eye to such because the crossings occur where there is supposed to be a hindrance of such? Another question may be related to whether or not the provision of asylums grant illegal immigrants limited rights since Khumbu’s explanation matter not in his first arrest.

A common deduction that can be made from all three narratives is that the need for liberation exists in many parts of the world but on different levels. With the consideration of the socio- political matters, improper governance is at most times responsible for the struggles experienced by the less privileged. Another deduction is that the women who belong to the group of people who are privileged may also still be in seek of liberation from male dominance.

The struggles experienced by both males and females may be conclusively described as those that hinder the voice of the oppressed. It is no coincidence that people find it fair to engage themselves in actions that counter the authorities’ bounds in families and as citizens. Common societal problems can be observed and a change of character adapted when one travels even if it is for reasons that satisfy the heart.

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The Narratives Which Define Characters Traveling. (2022, Dec 09). Retrieved from

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