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Heaven is not Closed


Heaven is not Closed By Bessie Head Setting (Where the story takes place) A rural village in Botswana Bessie Head She was born in Botswana She uses Botswana in her ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Heaven is not Closed

Heaven is not Closed
  • By Bessie Head

Setting (Where the story takes place)
  • A rural village in Botswana

Bessie Head
  • She was born in Botswana
  • She uses Botswana in her stories

  • Galethebege
  • Ralokae
  • Ralokaes brother Modise
  • The Missionary

  • She is a devoted Christian
  • She goes to church every day to pray
  • She falls passionately in love with Ralokae
  • She wants to get married according to Christian
  • She goes to the missionary for advice
  • Galethebege loves the church and the rituals
    surrounding the services.
  • She was never absent from church.

  • She was shocked about the way the missionary
    treated her.
  • When she could not go to church she continued
    praying at home every day.
  • Throughout her married life she prayed every day.

  • He is a widower
  • He courts Galethebege because he recognizes the
    goodness in her.
  • He is not a Christian
  • He wants to get married according to Setswana
  • He does not trust missionaries
  • He blames missionaries for destroying their
    customs and tribal lives.

The Missionary
  • Short, anonymous looking man, wearing glasses.
  • He was the resident missionary for some time.
  • He did not like the Africans that he worked with.
  • He thought the Africans were beggars and rather

The Missionary
  • He liked marriages because he got paid doing
  • He got angry when Galethebege said she wanted to
    marry a non-Christian in Setswana custom.
  • He said the marriage could not be allowed.
  • The missionary said that heaven is closed to the
  • The missionary excommunicated Galthebege from
    church. She could no longer enter the village

  • He is Ralokaes brother
  • He is the narrator of the story
  • He tells the story of the marriage to make the
    village think about Christianity versus customs.
  • He is not an unbeliever.

The Plot
  • Modise tells the story of his brothers wife.
  • His brother is Ralokae and he was married to
    GalethebegeThe story begins with a description of
    Galethebeges death.
  • When Galethebege was young she embraced the

Plot (continues)
  • Galethebege was a good person, whether she
    adhered to Setswana custom or Christian customs.
  • She always went to church.
  • Ralokae was married for almost a year when his
    wife died in childbirth.
  • Ralokae went through the Setswana customs
    boswagadi or mourning period.

Plot (continues)
  • A year later Ralokae finished the cleansing
    ceremony demanded by Setswana custom.
  • Ralokae took note of Galethebege because she was
    also devoted, although not to the customs but to
  • He began courting Galethebege

Plot (continues)
  • Galethebege was hesitant to marry because Ralokae
    was not a Christian.
  • Galethebege placed God before Ralokae.
  • Galethebege was passionately in love with
  • Ralokae wanted to get married according to the
    old customs.

Plot (continues)
  • Galethebege wanted to get married according to
    Christian customs
  • Ralokae explained that missionaries were not to
    be trusted. They destroyed Setswana customs and
    treated the Setswana people like servants. They
    were full of tricks.
  • Galethebege wanted to get advice from the

Plot (continues)
  • The missionary forbid the marriage with Ralokae.
  • The missionary excommunicated Galethebege from
  • Galethebege married Ralokae in the traditional
  • Galethebege never stopped praying although she
    could not go to church.

Plot (continues)
  • Ralokae never became a Christian.
  • Many people left the church because of the way
    the missionary treated Galethebege.

Setswana Custom (Marriage)
  • The cow was holy to the Setswana because they got
    their food and clothes from it.
  • At the wedding a cow was slaughtered.
  • The intestinal bag of the cow was draped around
    the neck of Galethebege and Ralokae to symbolize
    wealth and the good luck they would have in
    married life.

Setswana Custom (Marriage)
  • The porridge and meat were served in ogopo bowls
    which had been used since old times.
  • There was a lot of dancing (capering) and
    ululating on the day.

Intention (Why the story was written?)
  • The writer wants to comment on missionary work
    done universally.
  • She wants to show that missionaries destroyed
    Setswana custom by not allowing it. They enforced
    Christian (Western) customs on the people
  • Ralokae represents the traditional customs of the
    Setswana people.

Intention (Why the story was written?)
  • Missionaries misused their message to destroy
    traditional communities.
  • Missionaries should have been more considerate
    towards strange customs.
  • All missionaries were not good, the one in the
    story is a bad missionary.
  • The missionary used the word of God to control
    the people, not help them.

Intention (Why the story was written?)
  • In this story the missionary decides who will go
    to heaven and who not.
  • The writer wants to say that if there had been
    more tolerance from missionaries, the Setswana
    people would not have been divided.
  • Missionaries did not understand the Setswana
    people and their customs.

Intention (Why the story was written?)
  • Even without a church Galethebege remained a good
    Christian and succeeded in making Ralokae a good
    husband although he was not a Christian.
  • The Bible says that a Christian who married a
    non-believer sanctifies the non-believer.
  • 1Co 714 For the unbelieving husband is
    sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife
    is sanctified in the brother else were your
    children unclean but now are they holy.
  • The missionary was wrong when he said heaven is
    closed to the unbeliever. Heaven will always be
    open to everybody
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