In her novel, A Patch of Blue, Elizabeth Kata tells a story of Selina, an eighteen year old blind girl who meets and develops a relationship with Gordon, an older black man. Gordon helps Selina realize many hopes and dreams, though not without some drawbacks.
One of the disadvantages of Selina and Gordon’s relationship is that he is able to withhold telling her about the colour of his skin. Selina hates black people because the only colour that she can see is black, and she has grown to despise it. Rose-Ann and Ole Pa also don’t like black people, and Selina has therefore grown up to believe that she too, should hate Negroes. For example, she meets a little girl named Pearl. Since Selina is blind, she has no way of knowing that Pearl is black. Ole Pa returns and tells Selina that Pearl was a black girl. Selina instantly thinks “Black! I hated Pearl. I had enough black in my life.”
Selina was elated to have met Gordon however in turn her home life was made more difficult as a result of this friendship. Every day before Ole Pa would leave for ‘Mens’ she would ask him to take her to the park. More often than not, he would get angry and say no leaving Selina to think up some conniving way to get him to say yes. Being with Gordon was slowly teaching her to speak her mind and state her opinions. Rose-Ann seemed to feel that Selina was just a commodity who shouldn’t think or speak. Almost whenever Selina spoke Rose-Ann would cuff her for the ‘rudeness.’ This made Selina more and more bold and the consequences got tougher for her to handle. At one point, Selina is so terrified of Rose-Ann rage that she hides under the bed. Rose-Ann drags her out screaming “Oh you slut. Oh you slut!” Selina is no slut.
There are several advantages of Selina and Gordon’s friendship, the first being the many new experiences he gives her. Not all were positive experiences, but they were all exciting and new. Gordon gives her some pineapple juice, which she has never tasted before. Selina instantly loves the taste describing it as drinking “…beautiful fruity stuff from bottles…” They also go to Gordon’s apartment, which is where many new things happen for Selina. The first of these is her first taxi ride. In the beginning, she was scared, but was eventually coaxed into it by Gordon and she ends up thinking “I would have liked a longer drive.” They then go into the elevator up to his home, which also scares her and she ends up liking. Once in his apartment, Selina discovers that it contains carpet, which is something she had never dreamed could be in a place where you live.
Secondly, Gordon promises Selina freedom by telling her that it is possible for her go to school. She would go to a school especially for the blind. This would remove her from her present home which is marred by neglect and abuse. Gordon will introduce Selina to Alice Bradden who is also blind, and has a seeing-eye dog named Duke. Going to school would allow Selina to use her brain to her full potential and to learn everything that she wants to know, not just what the radio tells her.
The main advantage to Selina’s newfound friendship with Gordon becomes her favorite word: friend. Gordon gives Selina a couple of concrete gifts. One is a pair of sunglasses, to hide her face, which was disfigured by the acid. The other is a music box, which Selina does not need to see to be able to enjoy. Gordon Ralfe helps Selina build up her self esteem and confidence. He teaches her to like herself by instilling some self image. Selina falls in love with Gordon, and he grows to love her. Perhaps the greatest gift of all however is that of tolerance, his favorite word. Gordon teaches Selina to love everything, no matter what colour, shape, or size it is.