26 November 2012
Once Upon An Unimaginable Fairy Tale:
Irony in Nadine Gordimer’s “Once upon a time”
Once Upon a Social Issue Fairy tales have always been told to us as children; whether to comfort or entertain us, they always seem to be a part of everyone’s childhood. “Once Upon A Time”, the title is a characteristic of a fairy tale, but she leads the story to an ending that is anything other than “happily ever after” (Gordimer 12). Although Nadine Gordimer’s title is typical in a fairy tale in the story “One upon a time”, the story she writes is anything but typical. Instead of dealing with characteristics and synonymous with fairy tales, the author uses irony to reflect the idea of humans leading into their destruction.
Because the story about the happy family is as far away from a fairy story as it can be. She uses sentences as “living happily ever after”, the title “Once upon a Time” and words like +witch” (Gordimer 12) to imitate a story for children, but this is not a fairytale. This is a story about the social injustices between people and the injustices in which we see in the world. Gordimer is not trying to write a story for children. She uses the fairytale-like language to clarify the irony in the story. One of the more interesting examples of irony I found in the text was where the author wrote “Consult DRAGON’S TEETH The People For Total Security… One evening, the mother read the little boy to sleep with a fairy story from the book the wise old witch had given him at Christmas. Next day he pretended to be the Prince who braves the terrible thicket of thorns to enter the palace and kiss the Sleeping Beauty back to life: He dragged a ladder to the wall, the shining coiled tunnel was just wide enough for his little body to creep in, and with the first fixing of its razor teeth in his knees and hands and head he screamed and struggled deeper into its tangle. The trusted housemaid and the itinerant gardener,...
Cited: Gordimer, Nadine. “Once upon a time.” Pre-AP English 9 Supplementary Readings: Prejudice and Social Inequity. Milton: n.p., 2012. 12-14. Print.
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