Explore the treatment of racism in one story from "Contemporary short stories".

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The writer of this story (country lovers) seemingly portrays a metamorphism of a relationship from the setting of fantasy and childish virtue, into harsh adult reality. The subject of the story is Thebedi and Paulus, two children from very different backgrounds, worlds spaced out, who build up a friendship while yet in the childhood stage of colour blindness; where friendship is based on character, rather than the colour of one’s skin or their status in the pecking order of society. Innocence seems to be the theme of the story at the beginning and through out the story. Through innocence we glimpse a world full of hatred bias prejudice, favoritism and superiority. Where one is unaware of the happenings outside the insulating bubble of childhood and innocence, two words that present an image of purity.

In the early stages of their companionship, while still in the cocoon of childhood, Paulus, the son of a rich white farmer and Thebedi, the daughter of a poor black farmhand (working for Paulus’ father), interact freely without guilt or secrecy as society does not yet influence or affect their thoughts of each other, reality has not yet seeped into their world. But as they reach the beginning of adolescence they begin to comprehend the concept of the ‘separating line’, the stereotypical qualities that divide one race from the other. I think the author uses gender to initiate the ‘master, servant’ mentality. The writer, Nadine Gordimer gives Thebedi the role of a woman, which in society is considered ‘weaker’ than that of a man, Paulus. Thebedi’s character is obedient, submissive and this is where the issue of race integrates with her character.

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Submission is the giving of one’s self to a higher, superior being; in this case to Paulus, the white man. In this sense Thebedi as expected has to play a subtler role in their relationship as she lets Paulus dominate the whole show. Thebedi has two handicaps against her: the fact that, she’s black and the second is that she’s female. Her character is also that of a naive, trusting person, noiselessly accepting all that she is given, even though it does not please her. The dominance of Paulus character is plain as the nose on your face with ...

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