In every literary works, the author uses his or her life experience and the immediate social, political and spiritual practices to educate or pass a specific message to the society. For instance in her intriguing epic country lovers, Nadine Gordimer focuses on the social prejudices practiced in an environment which harbors mixed races.
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Through discussing the adventures and social attributes of the characters, Gordimer highlights the aspect of racism. On the other hand, Aurora Morales expresses her poetic skills by enlightening the reader on the aspect of ethnicity as practiced in her contemporary society. Although both Gordimer and Morales apply different forms and style of writing literature, each of them condemns social injustices less seriously.
While Gordimer highlights constrained relationship arising from aspects like racism, Morales boasts of her ethnic culture as a way to call for unity. Through focusing on the social and political relationships and elusive interaction of various characters in the articles, the next discussion elaborates the theme of racism/ethnicity while highlighting their similarities and differences.
Critical analysis of Gordimer and Morales’ pieces of work highlight some differences as per literature. For instance, both authors apply different forms of writing literary works to express their artistic skills. Gordimer writes a short story in form of a narrative giving it ironical title country lovers. Gordimer has organized the story in form of well-structured paragraphs accurately punctuated. Furthermore, each paragraph highlights a different idea.
For instance, the first paragraph gives the picture of the environment or the setting of the story as a farm, which harbors two races blacks and whites. Moreover, the author enables the readers to pick out the main theme of the story from the first paragraph. The rest of the paragraphs give emphasis on the theme by applying aspects like the direct speech, which is a common element in short stories.
More over, Gordimer applies the aspect of narration and vivid description, which draws the picture of her story in the readers mind. For example, she describes Thebedi’s hut, which is made of raw bricks with a chimney thus, mimicry of the white man’s house. Inside the hut there is a bed made from iron, wooden table and boxes.
At the same time, she gives a description of Paulus house as a permanent structure with thick walls to prevent penetration of heat and inside the house there is a kitchen with plenty of foodstuffs and servants, dining room and with numerous bedrooms. Therefore, Gordmer’s description of the two homesteads enables her to emphasize her theme of racism (Spain, 2012, p.770). While the blacks live in abject poverty, the white masters live in large, well build permanent structures.
From the above analysis, Gordimer is against economic differences, which arise because of racism. Although Njabulo is a servant in a white man’s house, he is unable to build a permanent house for his family. The huts are traditional houses of the African society, which are not only unstable but also prone to distraction in strong weather conditions like storms.
On the contrary, Morales express her artistic nature by writing her literary work in form of a poem. Written in four stanzas, each stanza has different number of lines highlighting a different aspect. Each stanza starts with the letter “I”, which is common in most poems.
The first stanza emphasizes on the author’s title child of Americas therefore, underscoring the aspect of ethnicity in the society. There are many aspects of poetry expressed for instance repetition of the expression “I am”, which shows the author is more concerned about her ethnic identity in a foreign environment with multiple cultures (Rich, 1982, 54).
The narrator has accepted her culture, race, ethnic background and identity as an American. In addition, Morales add rhythm to the poem to accentuate the element of rhyme, which is common in poetry. For example, the first two lines in stanza three produce a rhythmic fashion as shown below “I am not African. Africa is in me, but I cannot return.” This intrigues the reader to appreciate the author’s cultural and ethnic identity. Thus, silently appreciating the social diversity found in America.
The second difference evident in the two pieces of literary works is the setting of the Gordimer’s story and Morales’ poem. The short story is set in a farm, in which the owners are whites while the blacks only offer labor. The farm has many families where children play together. Unfortunately, only the white children enroll in school.
The author elaborates the theme of her story by writing “the farm children only play together when they are small but once the white children go away to school, they soon dont” (Gordimer, 1988, p.3). Therefore, Gordimer underscores the racial segregation in her setting. Similarly, children know how to make toys of oxen and bracelets using beans and castor oil seeds (Gordimer, 1988, p.3).
Gordimer shows that the whites are colonizers who oppress the black people and have set social rules in the environment that have culminated into injustices. There are no schools for black children, the black people are servants and neither of them freely visits each other’s house. Romantic interracial sexual relationships are illegal, an aspect, which has been socially accepted. Critical analysis of the story proves that the setting of the story is in Africa with the whites being immigrants who forcefully decided to rule the natives.
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Contrarily, the setting of Morales story is in America. In the first stanza and from the first line, the writer confesses, “I am a child of the Americas” (Morales, n.d, stanza 1). However, although the whites dominantly inhabit America, there are other ethnic groups and races like Jews, Spanish and African among others. However, the narrator applauds other races and countries, which have contributed to the richness of the American culture.
Comparison of the main themes in Gordimer and Morales literary works accentuates some differences. For example, Gordimer silently condemns racial prejudice in her contemporary society by vividly describing the social activities in the farm and its surroundings. The first instance of racial practice Gordimer points at is the separation of the black and white children especially when the latter enrolls in boarding schools.
Although in their early childhood, their parents allow them to play together; this habit dies out as the children progress into adulthood. Secondly, a romantic relationship between different racial groups is a social taboo as experienced by Thebedi and Paulus. Paulus is white while Thebedi is black; however, the two accept their childhood friendship to culminate into an illegal love affair. Gordimer condemn racism when she writes, “He told her, each time, when they would meet again” (clungston, 2010, p.11).
Intuitively it was a taboo for the two lovebirds to have an open relationship. Although their relationship grew, but it seemed like a game of hide and seek. Thus, forcing them to have their sexual adventures in weird locations like the riverbank, away from the public. At this level, Gordimer enlightens the reader on the impact of racism on social development among children.
Furthermore, after a few sexual adventures, Paulus impregnates Thebedi. Ironically, her parent marries her off to a black man to conceal any form of suspicion from the white master (Paulus father). Due to social prejudice, Paulus kills his child to escape embarrassment and further punishment from his parents. Thebedi refrains from stopping Paulus to kill her child because of her identity as a black woman.
Therefore, Gordimer proves that racial segregation is a barrier to social development and can lead to social or human injustices as experienced by Thebedi. Thebedi is sure Paulus killed her child but she is unable to testify openly against him retracting her initial accusations. The author writes “Yet a year later, she retracted her testimony and in a calmer manner testified,” she had not seen what the white man did in the house” (Clugston, 2010, p. 49).
Therefore, Thebedi’s identity as a black woman forces her to accept oppression from the white man. Moreover, the judge not only drags the case for at least a year but he also rules in favor of the white man. According to Gordimer, racism culminates into social injustices like murder and oppression thus, social growth in a multiracial environment.
On contrary, in her epic masterpiece Morales focuses on ethnicity in the society more so, America which, harbors many immigrants. The main theme of her poem is to emphasize self-identity a problem experienced by most Americans especially due to ethnicity. Social diversity is an aspect that America currently experiences. Therefore, the first line of the first stanza confirms the author’s message to the reader “I am a child of the Americas…A child of many Diaspora, born into this continent at a crossroad…” (Morales, n.d, stanza 4).
The native people of America are the American Indians while all the other citizens like Europeans, African Americans, blacks, Spanish and Jews among others are immigrants. All these races have enriched America’s ethnic culture. However, the ethnicity has led to oppression, disunity and lack of identity amid other social problems.
Therefore, Morales poem is not only appreciating her culture but also calling upon other people to embrace and use their culture for the social development of America. In the last line of the last stanza, the author writes, “I was born at the crossroads and I am whole” this statement emphasizes the rich cultural heritage America boasts posses (Morales, n.d).
Although these traditions culminated from a turbulent past experience, all immigrants whether slaves, tradesmen or natives proudly belong to one country, America. Therefore, the ability of the Americans to struggle, persevere and integrate into one society proves that cultural diversity is essential for the social development.
Comparatively, both Gordimer and Morales, focus on social development as an important feature in the society. Gordimer highlights racial segregation as a social barrier, which eventually, leads to oppression and other forms of prejudices in society. Similarly, Morales praises ethnicity as an aspect that should promote cultural growth especial in a multiracial environment.
According to her poem, all Jews, Spanish, African American and Europeans living in America are Americans. Thus, the different ethnic groups should unite to explore and integrate into the unique culture. Both authors express the negative impact of racism and ethnicity in the society. While Gordimer presents oppression and social injustices as the outcome of racism, Morales focuses on lack of self-identity and esteem as the eventual impact of ethnicity when traded on the wrong grounds.
The second similarity evident in the two pieces of work is the application of the literary elements like metaphors and similes. Although the authors use different types of literary techniques, each of them uses these literary techniques to emphasize their themes. In her short story, Gordimer embraces similes especially when comparing the social lives of the blacks and the whites.
For example, after finding out Thebedi’s baby belongs to him Paulus says, “I feel like killing myself” (clungston, 2010, p.10). Paulus statement proves that racism is highly practiced in his society. Therefore, he relates his relationship with Thebedi to death. Analytically, Gordimer uses this element to condemn silently racism because practicing it is equally to killing a human being.
Another simile, which expresses racism appears when the author says, “Already at birth there was on its head a quantity of straight, fine floss, like that which carries the seeds of certain weeds in the veld.” (Gordimer,n.d, par.6) according to this statement, Gordimer shows that Thebedi’s daughter was illegal and therefore, unwanted in her society. Thus, the author highlights inhumanity because eventually, Paulus kills the little innocent baby because of fear, racism and oppression as commonly practiced in his society.
In addition, Gordimer uses metaphors to express black color as ugly thus, not beautiful to look at or admire. For instance, she describes Njabulo skin as “matt, opaque coffee-grounds” (Anderson, 1991, P.20). According to the author, although the black skin is unique, people tend to despite the victim. Therefore, she condemns segregation of the blacks especially by the white people who think their skin color is superior. Eventually, she uses the black and white skin to promote racial unity an element that constantly misses in the society.
Similarly, Morales applies the art of metaphors to express her poetic skills and educate the reader on the importance of embracing ethnic unity. The first metaphors, she coins is “I am not African, Africa is in me…Spanish is in my flesh…I am not European, Europe lives in me…” (Morales, n.d. stanza 1-4). The aforementioned group of metaphors highlights the narrator’s identity, culture and ethnic background.
However, intuitive analysis of the poem reveals that the narrator accepts herself as an African, Spanish and European. When she writes,” Europe lives in me “(Morales, n.d, stanza 1 line 5), it means that the narrator accepts Europeans as Americans who were unable to be accommodated in their original country because of oppression, economic constraints and religious conflicts among other social, political and economic problems.
While the phrase “Spanish is in my flesh” (Morales, n.d, stanza 1 line 3), highlights the integration, intermingling and eventual assimilation of the Spanish people into America thus, giving them a common identity as Americans. Additionally, the metaphor “Africa is in me” mean Africans came into America as slaves, however, with the abolishment of slavery they became Americans.
Surprisingly, the African culture still lingers in African Americans because of the origin and traditions that has not changed for many ages. Therefore, acceptance of all the races in America transforms America into a peaceful country with multiple cultures, racial identities and traditions among others.
The fourth metaphor Morales applies is “I was born at the crossroads and I am whole” (n.d, stanza 4 line 1), her literary expression describes American people as originating from diverse background. Besides, American Indians, there is no other American person who can claim that America is his or her native land.
African, Spanish, Jewish and European cultures are all form a unique American culture while at the same time retaining the individual cultural practices. According to Morales, lack of self-identity especially in relation to ethnicity has slowed down social development culture. Essentially, the different ethnic groups in America should create a rich culture that would build self-esteem of most Americans.
In conclusion, Gordimer constructs her short story to educate the society on the negative impact of racism. She uses different literary techniques like narration, similes and metaphors to put emphasis on her theme. On the other hand, Morales writes a short poem to preach against the use of ethnicity in oppressing others especially in America.
She calls upon all Americans to embrace ethnic unity for the social development. She uses metaphoric expression to emphasize her theme. Finally, both authors not only use similar literary techniques like metaphors but they also focus on a common goal social development in the society.
Anderson, P. (1991). Attitudes to Race in Nadine Gordimer’s ‘Country Lovers’ and Alice Walker’s ‘The Welcome Table’. New York. Indie Print publishers
Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into Literature. California: Bridgepoint Education publishers.
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Gordimer, N. (1988). Town and Country Lovers . New York. Reclam Philipp publishing company.
Morales, L. A. (n.d). Child of the Americas. In Lauraa.diaz-authors page. Web.
Rich, P. (1982). Tradition and revolt in South African Fiction: The Novels of Andre Brink, Nadine Gordimer and J.M. Coetzee. Journal of Southern African Studies, 9 (1), 54-73
Spain, A. (2012). Event, Exceptionalism, and the Imperceptible: The Politics of Nadine Gordimer’s the Pickup. MFS: Modern Fiction Studies, 58 (4), 747-772.