Racism: A Comparison and Contrast of Two Literary Works
The words, purpose and identity are familiar with mankind. These words can mean many things to many different individuals. Each person on this Earth is uniquely made with unique DNA patterns and fingerprints that cannot be matched with any other individual among the billions of people that occupy this planet we call Earth. Why is prejudice so common among people if everyone is unique and special? This question remains unanswered. Many authors have written essays, stories, and poems about negative judgmental and biased views of people in hopes to understand unfair treatment towards mankind and promote changes in human behavior that will bring solutions of peace. This paper will reflect on the stories, Country Lovers, by Nadine Gordimer and The Welcome Table, by Alice Walker. Gordimer and Walker have become activists for fair and unbiased treatment among mankind. Both authors have been rewarded numerous honorary awards for promoting peace. Ironically, Nadine Gordimer is a white woman born and raised in South Africa and Alice Walker is an African American but both authors have kindred spirits and are celebrated for their commitments to fight the cruel elements of racism.
Nadine Gordimer’s Country Lovers is a story about Thebedi, a black girl, and Paulus, a white boy, who fell in love. Gordimer wrote the story from a third-person point of view. The point of view is objective; the characters’ thoughts are not exposed as in the omniscient point of view. The point of view allows the reader to concentrate on the characters’ actions, creating a more dramatic effect. Thebedi and Paulus’ attraction to each other was unforbidden and socially not acceptable in the South African culture in which they were raised. Both children were raised on a South African farm, one that was owned by Paulus’ parents. Thebedi was one of the many black hired hands, slaves, or servants who worked on the Eysendyck’s family farm. The story does not clearly give a time period when the events unfolded, but the era of white dominance that existed over the black people was clearly defined, as the story states, “The farm children play together when they are small, but once the white children go away to school they soon don’t play together any more…so that by the time early adolescence is reached, the black children are making along with the bodily changes common to all, an easy transition to adult forms of address, beginning to call their old playmates missus and baasie little master” (Clugston 2010, section 3.1, paragraph 1). Paulus and Thebedi exchanged gifts and their attraction for each other grew. Thebedi proudly wore a pair of hoop earrings given to her by Paulus but could not tell of the giver’s real identity and stated the earrings came from “the missus” (Clugston 2010, section 3.1, paragraph 3). Likewise, Paulus wore a bracelet made of elephant hair that was given by Thebedi but told everyone that one of the workers from his father’s farm had given him the gift (Clugston 2010, section 3.1, paragraph 2). The fact that each person hid each other’s identities about the gifts suggest that their friendship was not acceptable because of their differences in racial and social statuses.
As Thebedi and Paulus grew older, they frequently met at a remote dried river bed, each one walking a measureable distance from each other so that they would not be seen together. Paulus often spoke about his adventures away from home, as he was home for the holidays from a boarding school. Thebedi would ask questions and listen intently, enjoying Paulus’ company and laughing together (Clugston 2010, section 3.1, paragraph 4). The friendship grew stronger and became sexual (Clugston 2010, section 3.1, paragraphs 5 and 8). The couple continued to sneak around and see each other secretly, sometimes at Paulus’ home while his parents were away, as expressed in the line, ”The door of the parents’ bedroom was locked...
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