The statement “There is nothing sacred about a marriage that abuses the woman!” refers to social problems that harass women who are frequently the victims of violence and abuse.
Elsa’s view of marriage is that it is a “human rights” approach to the problem of domestic affairs. These problems are more common in poor communities and have a greater outcome on women as they tend to be physically weaker. In The road to Mecca women’s problems appear to be mainly caused by men.
Katrina is a good example of this as her problems are caused by her husband, Koos. She is young and has a child and Koos accuses her of infidelity and therefore abuses her. She comes into conflict with social expectations for women because of her teenage pregnancy. In order for Katrina not to be treated unworthy she should get rid of Koos and “find somebody who will value her as a human being” (pg 23), as all women have equal rights to express themselves freely regardless of race.
Another example of women’s problems caused by men besides Katrina is the woman to whom Elsa gives a lift. In this case the woman’s husband died and the owner of the farm where they were staying tells her to pack up and leave the farm. This clearly indicates that her husband had not provided for her and the child should anything have happened to him.
Helen is also an example of women’s problems caused by men. “You didn’t know I wasn’t mourning Stefanus’s death. He was a good man, and it was very sad that he had died so young, but I never loved him.” (pg 71). Helen felt that her marriage was deathly and after Stefanus’s death she felt free. Since her husbands death she has lived alone and transformed her home into a work of art creating her own Mecca of beauty and freedom. Outside her house the yard is filled with figures mostly facing east, representing that they are looking towards the city of Mecca. Helen’s Mecca is a metaphor of freedom and imagination.
The Afrikaners community expected Helen to shiver up and die after her husbands death but instead she began to have visions of Mecca and alienated herself from the whole Afrikaners community, except Marius who is a complex character. He is well – intended and acts in good faith as a representative of the church council, knowing that Helen is part of the conservative white Afrikaners that still have set ideas about religion and Christianity. His actions decrease her happiness and suppress her creativity, instead of uplifting her as he believes, and is unaware of the needs and goals of Helen.
Helen does not express her rights as a woman verbally, but through her work of arts she has learnt to express herself freely without worrying what the community are saying. She finds comfort through this as she does it alone without a man in her life. Helen uses her art as her right to express her personal identity and inner feelings: “It is the best of me, Elsa” (pg 34). Her art and struggle to make it, is a metaphor for women’s struggle in a society that sanctions conformity and control the powerless.
On page 23 Elsa expresses her feelings towards women’s rights, because these rights are supported by the law. “She has got a few rights, Miss Helen…”. Elsa expresses her feelings freely, she is a liberal person and represents women that believe in women rights and freedom of speech. She believes that each person has the freedom of speech regardless of gender, age or race and should express themselves freely.