Country Lover’s: A Forbidden Lover Story I chose to discuss the short story by Nadie Gordimer, Country Lovers, I will identify the theme and the literary elements that helped me with my analysis. I would consider the story Country Lovers to be the story of racial barriers that created a forbidden love story. There are many literary elements that aid my analysis, and support my interpretation of the stories theme. I will discuss how symbolism, characters, and settings supported the forbidden love story theme. The story Country Lovers is a depiction of racial boundaries and social stratifications in a South African farm in the 1900’s.
This was a time when there were strong racial dividers, and mingling between races was not tolerated. This story is about a boy, a girl, and summer love. The girl named Thebedi works on the farm of the boy named Paulus father. The consequences of crossing racial and social class boundaries, forced the young lovers to hide their relationship. The setting of the story takes place in mainly three areas the farm house where the boy lives, the river where they meet to hide their relationship, and the village where the girl lives.
The settings in the story help develop my theme, because it gives me a clear idea and understanding in how social class plays a part in the forbidden love. The boy lives in a beautiful home that is described to be of a high social class. In the text the home is described as, “The kitchen was it lively thoroughfare, with servants, food supplies, begging cats and dogs, pots boiling over, washing being damped for ironing, and the big deep-freezer the missus had ordered from town, bearing a crocheted mate and a vase of plastic iris ( Clungston, 2010)”.
This excerpt from the text helps me visualize a wealthy home, one that the girl would be considered to be hired help; but instead she is having a secret love affair with their son. Another line in the story that supporst the setting of Thebedi being a of a lesser social class than her lover is, “The women were away on the lands, weeding, as they were employed to do casual labour in the summer; only the very old remained, propped up on the ground outside the huts in the flies and the sun (Clugston, 2010)”.
This is a comparison using setting in how the social dividers played a role in forcing their love to be hidden and considered forbidden. The use of symbolism helps identify some of the phrasing in the story to better understand how Nadine Gordimer wants us to interpret the story. In the story before the boy and girl becomes a lover it says, “She put on her pair of shoes-white sandals, thickly Blanco-ed against the farm dust-when he was on the farm, but these were taked off and laid aside, at the river-bed (Clungston, 2010). This use of symbolism using the word white when referring to her shoes makes me see the innocence and purity of Thebedi this signifying that she was pure, but that they were soon to become lovers. Symbolism gives the writer the ability to use wording to keep the story interesting, but also using words that have common symbols that can be interpreted while reading. The characters in this story were a major role in the forbidden love theme.
The characters in this story were a white high social class boy, and a poor black working girl. There are many references in this story that supports the interpretation of their ethnic and social backgrounds. The boy Paulus at age fifteen was described as,”six feet tall and tramping round at school dances with girls from the “sister” school in the same town; when he had learnt how to tease and flirt and fondle quite intimately these girls were the daughters of prosperous farms like his father (Clungston, 2010). This is an example of how Paulus was expected to only date girls within the same class in which he lived. In the story a line which, I found to describe Thebedi and how she would have been perceived to Paulus family is,” This usefully coincides with the age of twelve or thirteen; so that the time early adolescences is reached, the black children are making along with the bodily changes common to all, and easy transition to adult forms of address, beginning to call their old playmates missus and baasie little master (Clungston, 2010)”.
This line moved me greatly because it speaks to me as if the black children were not worthy of the same rights to education, sports or teenage liberties as the white children were. The black children were expected at a young age to obtain responsibilities of an adult; essentially becoming a servant to the higher social classes. The emphasis on characters and the boundaries they had, helped me feel the importance of keeping their love affair a secret.
The ending of this story resulted with the conception of a baby between the boy and girl. She tried to pass the baby off as her new husbands, but the “light” skin baby was questioned. Paulus was devastated when he found out about the birth of the baby, and visited Thebedi and the baby. The baby died the night after Thebedi’s visit, and he was later tried for killing the baby. He was found not guilty. The theme of forbidden love in this story ended in tragedy.
This is a tragedy of an innocent baby being murdered because of racial and social boundaries. The theme addresses critical social issues of how racial and social boundaries were apparent at the time of this story. These issues were so intense that to hide any evidence of crossing those boundaries Paulus committed murder, instead of their forbidden love being revealed. References Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into literature. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. (https://content. ashford. edu/books)