Nadine Gordimer’s “The Moment before the Gun Went Off” (Norton Anthology 2575-78)
1. Who is the narrator and what is the narrator’s attitude towards white Afrikaner ruling party, to blacks, and to Europeans? 2. What do these attitudes tell us about why people are divided in South Africa and in our larger world, maybe regardless of race?
Van der Vyver
1. What does the action of his crying in the police station suggest to us? Are you surprised by this reaction—why or why not? Does this make him more likable—why or why not?
2. What do we learn about him by his action at the funeral?
3. What does it show us in the description “he does not let her clothing, or that of anyone else gathered closely make contact with him’ (2578). How does this moment contrast with “The farmer carried him in his arms, to the truck. He was sure, sure he could not be dead. But the young black man’s blood was all over the farmer’s clothes, soaking against his flesh as he drove” (2578)? What do we learn about Van der Vyver?
1. What exactly was the moment like for Lucas and Van der Vyver before the gun went off? What does this say about their relationship? (2578) 2. Why is this moment compared to the moment that he and Lucas’s mom share at the funeral? What does it suggest to us about their relationship? (2577)
1. In what way is this story about difference? About misconception? 2. What is the more tragic element of this short story in your mind?
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