Stigma is extreme disapproved or discontent with a person or group of people by the rest of society. Stigma is an important element that Alan Stratton use in “ Chanda’s secret”, which reflects on a reality of a community in sub-Saharan African country that is affected with the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Chanda, a young girl, was the main character in the story who faced many problems and she was responsible for her family. The challenges that makes the story a climate superstition, tragedy and emotional story about HIV/AIDS through Chanda’s character, and her positive attitude’s impact on her mother, Mrs. Tafa and Esther.
Alan Stratton wrote this novel to challenge and change the attitudes of people towards HIV/AIDS and to break the stigma. To begin with the social pressure, Chanda was living with the serious pandemic of HIV/AIDS disease in her community. If someone HIV/AIDS test’s result was positive and he/she was infected to HIV then they must be shunned, the same as Mrs. Tafa who was ashamed of it. As in page (181)” No, you listen to me, Mrs. Tafa,’ I shout. ‘ I’m tired of lies and hiding and being afraid. I’m not ashamed of AIDS! I’m ashamed of being ashamed!
In this case, society pressurizes people who are having HIV/AIDs. First, if the neighborhood or friends know that someone in their neighboring had HIV/AIDS; they would gossip in a very negative way and stay away as they are afraid of the disease, HIV. Second, people think of HIV as an epidemic disease, which can be carried easily. The society believes, the HIV/AIDS positive people are dirty because having the diseases is a stigma. Therefore, the people who have HIV/AIDS never dare to share or talk about their diseases, otherwise, they will be stigmatized and expelled from the society.
Even in some cases the person who had HIV/AIDS would be kicked out from their home as they are infected. But in this story, Chanda’s Secret, it was different. She accepted the fact and tried to stand against this concept and protected her mother. She told Mrs. Tafa that she won’t lie about her mom having HIV/AIDS to anyone. She tried to convince Mrs. Tafa not to care about the neighbor’s thoughts about her mom. No matter whatever they say, she will not mind it. What she cares is her family, her love, her hope and her future.
To sum up, Chanda trusts herself to change her attitude and speak about HIV/AIDS with Mrs. Tafa. She told Tafa, she will bring her mother back from Tiro even though that the neighbors will gossip about her family. She answered to Ms. Tafa, “ I don’t care and if Mama’s going to die, she’s going to die at home, surrounded by family who loves her”. Finally she succeeded and brought her mom back home. For this reason, the conversation was prod to Mrs. Tafa to think about Emanuel who was her son. Emanuel had committed suicide after he found himself infected to HIV/AIDS.
The death of Emanuel was very painful for Mrs. Tafa, because her son had committed suicide, due to having HIV, before HIV killed him. Besides her son’s suicide, keeping the matter a secret was painful for her. Because she had concealed it and kept in inside herself. That the power of stigma causes her to hide her feelings for her son from the society. For this reason, Chanda’s words influenced her and changed her attitude positively toward HIV/AIDS. Finally, Tafa agreed to Chanda`s decision about her mom. As the story goes on, the writer mentioned about hope and poverty.
Esther is the best friend of Chanda. Esther was the one who have to earn money to support her siblings. Because Esther’s parents died because of HIV/AIDS disease. The reason, she became a sex worker, known as the prostitute then she got effected by HIV, Esther says” I’m dragged out…they all came to me…I …HIV” (140) when Esther was raped by man who had HIV/AIDS, then she went to hospital but she didn’t get bed into hospital because of stigma, as nurse said” I’m just a whore” (139). Esther was really afraid to ask help from society. Because society stigmatized her as Mrs.
Tafa did before. When Esther wants to help Chanda, but Mrs. Tafa says” Esther’d just be in the way” (56) Mrs. Tafa doesn’t want her touching dough for fear she’ll spread her parents’ disease. Only Esther asks from Chanda and she helps Esther. Chanda cares about this misleading tradition. Chanda want to be who she is and she doesn’t care about people what they think and say. Also later makes people understand that the most important thing is your love ones. The society conflicts about HIV/AIDS disease was solved. The neighbor furthermore did not gossip about the infected family.
Chanda finally solved the matter. In the conclusion, Allan Stratton’s novel,” Chanda’s secret” was very successful in changing people who have negative attitude toward HIV/AID. In the same time, the climate of a story gives an image of Stigma, Social pressure, poverty, family loss and hope of people living in Africa during that time. A reflection of the optimistic main character, Chanda’s support to people who are effected by HIV/AIDS makes his novel become a stronger argument against reality judgments.
Stratton, Allan. “ Chanda`s Secret. ” USA, Annick Press Ltd. 2009. print.
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