The Silver Bell

In this study guide, you can get help analyzing the short story “The Silver Bell” by David Evans, found in the textbook From Dompas to Democracy, pp. 111-117. In addition to help with your analysis , you can find a summary of the text as well as ideas for interpretation and perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Silver Bell” (2oo6) 
Author: David Evans 
Genre: Short story

David Evans (born 1935) is a South African writer and poet. Evans was born in Queenstown and became involved in the resistance to the apartheid regime early in his life, which resulted in a prison sentence, among other things. While in prison, Evans received a bachelor's degree in English and history via. distance learning. After his release, he moved to England and continued his studies at the University of Liverpool, where he later became a lecturer.


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The title of the short story “The Silver Bell” by David Evans has both a literal and a symbolic meaning. In the literal sense, the title refers to a silver bell that Mrs Mackenzie uses as part of her daily routine: “she reached out and shook the little silver bell which stood on the bedside table (…) It was intended to summon the maid with a tray bearing carefully brewed coffee and homemade rusks” (p. 112, ll. 9-13). The silver bell takes on different symbolic meanings as the story progresses. We learn that Mrs Mackenzie has inherited the bell and the custom of using it to call for the maid (p. 112, ll. 10-11). The silver bell is, therefore, symbolic of tradition, but also of the power relationship between an employer and a domestic worker. As the story takes place in South Africa, where Mrs Mackenzie probably grew up during apartheid, the silver bell is also symbolic of the unequal power relationship between white, upper-class South Africans and non-white, lower-class South Africans.

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The Silver Bell

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