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Summary of Tomorrow’s South Africa : July’s People

July’s People takes place during a future revolution in South Africa.Amid such chaos,traditional roles are overturned and new ones must be forged.In light of the uprisings of the 1970s Nadine Gordimer presented a very bleak and cynical prophecy to white and black South Africa.That prophecy suggested no solution to problematic race relations but foresaw an inevitable overthrow of the apartheid system of the Afrikaner Nationalists.Instead of writing about a revolution,however,the novel assumes such an event will happen and imagines what affect it might have on a liberal white family.The novel is highly appreciated for its originality and uniqueness.There are some different point of view regarding the novel among critics.Carolyn Plummer is one of the critics who writes her view about July’s People through her essay Tomorrow’s South Africa:Nadine Gordimer”s July’s people.The article is about showing the power plays between two classes of people and what happens to them when the balance shifts in an unexpected way.It focuses on Bam and Maureen Smales, enlightened white liberals,who are rescued from the ensuing violence by July, the black man who has been their faithful servant for 15 years.
The essay by Carolyn Plummer is about the course and growth of the novel and its protagonist Maureen which represent the political growth and rebellion of South Africa itself.The essay is about the political and social aspects of the overthrow of the white reign and how it affected the liberal white family Smales.The whole story is narrated through the Maureen’s consciousness who is the wife of Bam Smales and mother to their two children.After revolutionary violence just like that experienced by neighboring countries,the family decides to accept their servant July’s offer of refuge and flee to his village to his village seeking protection.As the days progress and we see more and more of Maureen’s inner psyche we realize that the old order that she was accustomed to,the respect she took for granted in a patriarchal society based on her role as a wife or a daughter,the power she took for granted naturally based on her skin colour has collapsed due to the change in the whole political system.Maureen finally realizes white’s mistreatment and negligence towards black and the idea of superiority over them which were taught to them from birth.She has to let go of all that she knew and has to embrace life’s challenges as they present themselves to her.
Carolyn focuses on the realization of Maureen when she feels guilty at her own mistreatment and inappropriate behaviour as well as the behaviour of her father and husband.Maureen changes in a way that is similar to a mental rebirth.As Maureen grows as a person she becomes more and more self-reliant,but her self-reliance is considered as transgression from traditional roles.What Maureen and South Africa have in common is that both are being opposed when they are trying to find their way but the time has come for them as they take charge of their destiny for better or for worse.Maureen struggles to adjust to her new,drastically altered circumstances.
While the story is not told from any particular character's point of view,it is largely described through Maureen's eyes that the reader sees things.Her paranoia feeds the reader's paranoia, And while it never outlines what motivates people to behave in the ways that they do,it certainly highlights that humans are so much more complicated,interesting and less predictable than the stereotypes might have us believe.The ending is filled with ambiguity.But Carolyn seems as a optimistic in this point and she thinks this as a positive change for all people and women in particular.And with such ambiguity it's hard not to think about it for days afterwards.

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