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Comparing and Contrasting Nadine Gordimer's Narrative Situations

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Comparing and Contrasting Nadine Gordimer's Narrative Situations "Thought is not merely expressed in words; it comes into existence through them" (Vygotsky, 1896-1934). Words so completely surround humans that we rarely are fully aware of the extent to which they are used. Language is used to describe, express, and speculate. It is also, however, used to persuade and manipulate. Authors know this, and because they cannot play with their audience's mind using speech, they use writing, and, more specifically, narrative situation. A good example of this is short story writer Nadine Gordimer who includes bizarrely alternating combinations of narration, perspective, and narrative level in nearly every one of her stories. Out of these, there are two that have been shaped by narrative situation in such an intellectually frightening manner that they would be a meaningless mass of words without it: "Some Are Born to Sweet Delight" and "A Journey". "Some Are Born to Sweet Delight" is a haunting tale about an innocent small-town girl who falls into a relationship with an ominously mysterious foreigner, and gets killed when he, without her knowledge, uses her to bomb the plane she boards. Less horrifying but just as captivating, "A Journey" focuses on the different members of a family who have undergone character changes in order to adjust to their social surroundings. Narrative situation is vital to both these stories as it allows the reader to think about and eagerly await the painful epiphany of an ending while identifying with the characters to such an extent that they seem real. In "Some Are Born to Sweet Delight", Nadine Gordimer uses a 3rd person figural and consonant narrative situation to induce trepidation, while in "A Journey", she uses a combination of 1st person dissonant, and 3rd person figural and dissonant narrative situation to express the change that takes place in the characters over time, thus create a bildungsroman. ...read more.


Nadine Gordimer illustrates the improvidence and expedience of the human race; it has failed to understand that the long-term consequences of its actions can be devastating. People convince themselves that the world has become more tolerant and liberal with time. However, societies have passed on some of the most horrible traditions from generation to generation, one of which is racism. Since the 11th century, religious wars have torn families apart and segregated societies. Gordimer's irony and pity for the people who live in such an unforgiving world can be seen when she states, "there was a baby to be born, poor innocent" (84). She refers to the nastier aspects of society so frequently because she has been setting the stage for the painful conclusion: Rad bombing the plane Vera was on. The now fittingly authorial narrator states that he had done so on behalf of an oppressed people who were thirsty for revenge. As stated: There was another disaster of the same nature, and a statement from a group with an apocalyptic name representing a faction of the world's wronged, claiming the destruction of both planes in some complication of vengeance for holy wars, land annexation, invasions, imprisonments, cross-border raids, territorial disputes, bombings, sinkings, kidnappings no one outside the initiated could understand. A member of the group, a young man known as Rad among many other aliases, had placed in the hand-baggage of the daughter of the family with whom he lodged, and who was pregnant by him, an explosive device. Plastic. A bomb of the plastic type undetectable by the usual procedures of airport security (88). It is easy to deduce from this passage that the "world's wronged" are the followers of Islam. Typically, a reader will erupt with shock at how easily Rad could mass murder like he did, however, it is essential to look at both sides of the tale first. ...read more.


A reversal of roles is evident here, simply because Gordimer chooses a narrative situation in which the characters' opinions and reflections are taken into account. Finally, just like in "Some Are Born to Sweet Delight", Gordimer chooses to refrain from narrating about a certain character, and thus, keeps readers in the dark. Just as Rad isn't portrayed internally, the mother's internal life is never revealed. To summarize, in "A Journey", Gordimer uses 1st person and 3rd person dissonant narration to put together the accounts of different characters to compile a coming of age story that is a powerful example of a world in which people undergo internal changes to adjust to external ones. In conclusion, "Some Are Born to Sweet Delight" and "A Journey" are some of the finest short stories Nadine Gordimer has written, not because of flowery sentences or vivid descriptions, but because she brings her characters alive with the usage of narrative situation. Both the stories are similar in that they include a protagonist, normally the actual narrator or the focalizer, who is made sympathetic by usage of the most direct and/or personal form of narration in the story: Vera and the 13-year-old boy. Similarly, there is either a foil character or an antagonist who is made less appealing due to the contrastingly impersonal narration used. Rad is alien to the reader because he is never described in a positive way, and the father is an undesirable character because he, quite plainly, shunted his duties as head of a family. He is alien to the 1st person narrator, and Rad is alien to the narrator in general. Finally, although the former short story focused on the future that is to come, and the latter focused on the past which had occurred, both used narrative situation to such an extent that it became vital to the plot. After reading both, it is evident that Nadine Gordimer is truly a master at creating lasting effects on readers. ?? ?? ?? ?? HIMAINI SHARMA IB ENGLISH A1 SL MRS. GIDDENS October 4, 2010 1 ...read more.

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