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'Six feet of the country' by Nadine Gordimer and 'No witchcraft for sale' by Doris Lessing - What do these stories tell us about being black in Southern Africa at this time? What techniques do the authors use to convey their ideas to us?

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Introduction

Clare Bray What do these stories tell us about being black in Southern Africa at this time? What techniques do the authors use to convey their ideas to us? Both of the stories studied, ' Six feet of the country' by Nadine Gordimer and ' No witchcraft for sale' by Doris Lessing, contain similar views about being black during this time, including the racial tension that existed between black and white people. This tension also caused difficulties in the relationships held between master and servant. The opinion of the inferiority of black servants and black people in general is also addressed in both of the stories. The inferiority of black people during this time is a big issue that is addressed in these stories. In ' No witchcraft for sale' one of the first instances showing black inferiority was when Teddy, only six years old, showed disrespect towards Gideon's youngest son shouting, "piccanin," at him and racing around him on his scooter, intimidating him, then excusing his actions stating that; " He's only a black boy." Therefore implying that the boy was inferior and unimportant to him because he was black. This created a barrier in the normally trusting relationship that Teddy and Gideon shared, forcing Gideon to distance himself from the boy becoming for the first time in the story as black and white,. ...read more.

Middle

They didn't understand why he would not tell them of the cure, thinking that he was just being unreasonable; " They went on persuading and arguing, with all the force of their exasperation." Gideon felt betrayed by the Farquars asserting their authority over him, showing their superiority over him because the scientist was there, and, because this was his knowledge, black knowledge; " He could not believe his old friends could so betray him." Gideon appeared to give in to their persuading, however, instead of taking the Farquars and the scientist the short ten-minute journey to find the root, he took them a tortuous six miles from the house in the blistering heat Before passing a handful of flowers to the scientist; " He walked them through the bush along unknown paths for two hours. In that melting destroying heat." Gideon was punishing them for betraying him, while they felt angry and the scientist thought that he was being proved right, that the medicines didn't exist, which was what he was supposed to think; " The magical drug would remain where it was, unknown and useless except for the tiny scattering of Africans who had the knowledge." ...read more.

Conclusion

Doris Lessing presented the themes of racial tension and difficulties in a normally pleasant relationship between master and servant. The tension was brought on by the Farquars themselves, describing the scientist as the "Big doctor from the big city," adopting a racist attitude on account of the scientist. To be black in Southern Africa at this time would mean being a second class person to be inferior to white people and would spend their lives serving white people. According to the authorities in 'Six feet of the country' a black person living in South Africa would have no identity. I believe that the tension illustrated in both of these stories was caused by a lack of understanding the white people had of the black culture and traditions, I also believe that Doris Lessing and Nadine Gordimer have effectively conveyed the themes that I have highlighted, racial tension, difficult relationships or relationship barriers and differing values with the use of language, the way they presented the characters and the presentation of the themes. The title 'No witchcraft for sale' was used because the black witchcraft was something that Gideon possessed that the white man did not, this is very similar to 'Six feet of the country' as the six feet represent the land that Petrus's brother was buried in, it would be all that he owned that couldn't be taken from him. 1 ...read more.

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