Erica, Adela, Hilda, Emily, Sara Revised by Cecilia Liu Nadine Gordimer (1923~ )
Nadine Gordimer • Above: the lower section of the map shows • the area still owned by Britain to this day. • images taken from <powayusd.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/. ../pages/April_14.htm>
Nadine Gordimer (i) • Born in 1923 in Springs, South Africa • Daughter of Isidore and Nan Gordimer (Jewish immigrant parents) • Has witnessed how the minority white people weakened the rights of the majority black people since she was a child.
Nadine Gordimer (ii) • Received education in a convent school and spent a year at Witwaterstrand University, Johannesburg without taking a degree. • Has also taught in the USA in several universities during the 1960s and 1970s. • Was awarded Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991. • Never considered going into exile even at the height of the apartheid regime • Has lived in Johannesburg since 1948, and continues to live in South Africa.
Nadine Gordimer’s Works (iii) • Issue: mostly about South African, apartheid, a racially divided home country, and post-apartheid • “…her writing… to give a number of different perspectives on a situation, in some cases most poignantly those of apartheid's supporters, and in this way to represent the broader anatomy of a diseased politics. Gordimer's subject, as she emphasizes, is much more than apartheid; it is the human being in history.” (Abrams 2572)
Setting: South African farming community in 1991 Narrator: The third person viewpoint Summary: The story is about an accidental shooting of a black farm boy by a white farmer.
Characters • Marais Van der Vyver-- a farmer, who is smart but isn’t very socially adept and has problems with intimacy. • Lucas--a black farm boy, who is a good mechanic and likes to go hunting with Marais. • Captain Beetge--a police, a tough guy, who can’t stand to see a man crying. • Alida Van der Vyver --Marais’ wife, who cares about gardening and having a high social status • Willem Van der Vyver—Marais’ father
An accident? • Coincidences • without checking rifle if it was loaded or not • the fast driven car over a pot-hole • the black boy sitting on the top of the truck
Analysis • In the story the White minority are the ones in charge. In this particular society, blacks are the blue collar workers while the whites take the higher positions. • Tradition will give way to changes: blacks will hold high social positions, and whites will marry blacks. One way or another this will be the eventual fate of the community no matter how hard the whites try to separate the black from the whites.
“The Moment before the Gun Went Off” delves beneath the surface of a not unfamiliar South African scene: the fatal shooting of a black laborer by a white farmer. This particular incident is shown to have been accidental, but the sickening tragedy and horror of the episode is only revealed in the last sentence -- exposing further levels of human dependence and entanglement in an already complex situation.
The paternity of the dead boy in "The Moment before the Gun Went Off" is a secret only between his mother and father. That there is still a bond between them can perhaps be seen in the glance they exchange. • Different level of understanding or comprehension of the incident: * the community as outsiders * the people involved—the bond: Marais and Lucas’ mother; the grief of Marais Van der Vyver over the death of his “son”
Study Questions • What is the “moment” before the gun went off? • Do you think it is an accident? Why? • What is the relationship between Marais and Lucas? How do you know?