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Both Thomas Hardy and Nadine Gardimer deal with the relationships that break the social convention. How does each writer portray these relationships and how successfully do they challenge the conventions of their respective societies?

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Introduction

Both Thomas Hardy and Nadine Gardimer deal with the relationships that break the social convention. How does each writer portray these relationships and how successfully do they challenge the conventions of their respective societies? The stories I am going to compare are 'Country Lovers' and 'The Withered Arm'. The book 'Country Lovers' was written by Nadine Gardimer, and was published in 1975. 'The Withered Arm' was written by Thomas Hardy, and was published in the 1870's although it was about the early 19th century. Both stories are about couples breaking social conventions of their time. These social conventions were what your community expected. For example in marriage and relationships, in 'The Withered Arm' farmer Lodge has a relationship that breaks their social convention with Rhoda. This broke their social conventions because the rich class (farmer Lodge) were only supposed to have relationships with other rich people not poor. In 'The Country Lovers' Paulus and Thebedi's relationship also broke social conventions as they were black and white people and at that time it was not encouraged or allowed by the community. Social conventions still exist today as some countries and religions are not allowed relationships outside of their race (nationality or religion) if they do they become outcast and their family disown them. ...read more.

Middle

In each story the relationship goes through different stages, in 'Country Lovers' it starts their relationship as very good friends and they used to play together. It then goes to the next level when they get older, (they become lovers). 'The trouble was Paulus Eysendych did not seem to realise that Thebedi was now simply one of the crowd.' Unfortunately their relationship is forbidden as he is white and she is black, and because of this they had to have their sexual relationship in a secret place. "They went to the riverbed often through those summer holidays. They met just before the went...." Thebedi's attitude towards the child was weary because it was a half-cast (the father was white). Her people didn't mind it being half-cast "There was no disgrace in that, among her people...." They accepted it and didn't say anything. Paulus on the other hand was very worried as it's obvious it's his baby and if any one found out it would destroy him. So he kills the baby, to save himself. This and trial destroy the relationship between Paulus and Thebedi, at first they hate each other and Thebedi tries to put in jail. Then she changes her story because she moves on, she has another baby with her husband so she doesn't need the hassle and doesn't want to dig up the past. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lodge's son, this was just too much for Gertrude and it kills her. Both themes and aims of the books were to challenge the social conventions in their communities. I believe that both books did this successfully and get their point across well. 'The Withered Arm' challenged the social convention that said that different classes of people couldn't have relationships e.g. lower class like Rhoda and farmer Lodge who was in the upper class, these relationships were forbidden. If it was broken the people who broke it are treated like outcasts. The 'Country Lovers' though challenged the social convention that made relationships between blacks and whites forbidden and illegal. If you broke this social convention and got caught you could be thrown out of the country. They both believe social conventions are wrong and ruin lives. I think that 'Country Lovers' is the most successfully at showing how certain social conventions can make people do desperate and stupid things, as Paulus kills his own child because of fear that someone would find out about him and Thebedi. This had the most impact on me, as I can't think of anything more desperate than taking a life to save your own dignity and social standing it is not an acceptable thing, and if the social convention never existed Paulus and Thebedi would probably be a happy family with their baby. ...read more.

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