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Can anyone discuss the themes in Nadine Gordimer's "Once Upon a Time"?Explain the...

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mrte90 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 28, 2010 at 10:33 AM via web

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Can anyone discuss the themes in Nadine Gordimer's "Once Upon a Time"?

Explain the central themes that the author wanted to get across to the reader in "Once Upon a Time"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 28, 2010 at 8:31 PM (Answer #1)

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There are some clear themes that emerge from Gordimer's work.  The first would be "the fear of the other."  The family in the short story possess a fear of the dialectical opposite, what lies outside, and feat what could be.  There is an escalating fear which presents itself throughout the short story.  Rather than accept "the other" and attempt to integrate it into their lives, they resist it and their continued resistance features fairly awful consequences.  Another theme that comes out of the short story is the idea that every act of creation inevitably leads to destruction.  The family's fear leads them to embrace a path where they believe they will achieve a perfect state of perfection.  This is something rejected by the story's end.

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