Comparison of "What It's Like to Be a Black Girl" and Country Lovers

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Comparison of “What it’s like to be a black girl” and Country Lovers African American Literature dates back to the 18th century. These writings tend to focus on issues of racism, inner struggles, slavery, prejudice, and the pursuit of freedom as well as equality. Two renowned contributors to this field of literature are Nadine Gordimer and Patricia Smith. Throughout this paper, details of the short story Country Lovers, by Nadine Gordimer and the poem, “What it’s Like to Be a Black Girl,” by Patricia Smith, will be compared and contrasted to each other in regards to form, style, and content. Nadine Gordimer has eight novels and more than 200 short stories included in her repertoire. She clearly has a talent for creating a short story with just enough information to keep the content minimal, while keeping the reader engaged and satisfied. Within this story, she details the struggles of an African woman in a difficult era with heartbreak, confusion, and prejudices. Gordimer “concentrates on the many forms of suffering humankind instigates and endures within calamitous and transforming moments” (Seaman, 2010, pg. 1, para. 1). Country Lovers is a perfect example of Gordimer’s ability to tell a highly emotional story contained to just a couple of pages. Country Lovers tells the story of a white skinned Afrikaner boy who befriends the daughter of the black skinned help on his parents’ farm. The two become close and feelings begin to develop. Nadine Gordimer writes, “The trouble was Paulus Eysendyck did not seem to realize that Thebedi was now simply one of the crowd of farm children down at the kraal, recognizable in his sister’s old clothes” (Clugston, 2010, pg. , para.). Paulus cared for Thebedi, in a way that was not accepted in society; “The schoolgirls he went swimming with at dams or pools on neighbouring farms wore bikinis but the sight of their dazzling bellies and thighs in the sunlight had never made him feel what he felt now when the girl came up the bank and sat beside him, the drops of water beading off her dark legs the only points of light in the earth” (Clugston, 2010, pg. , para.). The white skinned young man had an appreciation for Thebedi. Like Nadine Gordimer, Patricia Smith, the author of “What it’s Like to Be a Black Girl,” also writes about being black and the struggles that come along with it. She, on the other hand, does this in the form of a poem, written with feeling and emotion. The poem itself is not very long; however, the impact of it is quite powerful. Smith uses vivid details to describe the desire of a young black girl, trying to fit in in a white favored society. By writing, “It’s dropping food coloring in your eyes to make them blue and suffering their burn in silence. Its popping a bleached white mophead over the kinks of your hair and primping in front of mirrors that deny your reflection,” Smith gives one the image of the pain associated with trying to change appearance to fit in with what society accepts. Throughout both the short story and the poem, culture plays an essential role. Author Patricia Smith, born in America but of African American descent, and author Nadine Gordimer, Caucasian, and of South African descent, both write about race and the effects of prejudices on Africans and African Americans. They both use race as the theme in their individual pieces: Country Lovers and “What it’s Like to be a Black Girl.” The authors chose to write about the pain and suffering that comes with having black skin. According to Martin Trump, “Nadine Gordimer’s prose fiction is among the best that give account of this sad process of alienation and social severance” (Trump, 1986, pg. 341, para.2). In Country Lovers, Ms. Gordimer writes about the forbidden relationship between a white skinned boy and a black skinned girl; the setting takes place in South Africa, where prejudice is prevalent. This story “lays bare an interracial love affair warped and then destroyed by the...
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