Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Through the juxtaposition of two stories of love, the author has managed to suggest that the laws against interracial association (apartheid) are a cruel interference in what are at times genuine cases of affection, if not love. Leinsdorf comments that he does accept social distinctions between people but does not believe that they should be legally imposed; Thebedi (also in an interview in a Sunday paper) says that her affair with Paulus had been “a thing of our childhood”—a natural outcome of human relationships unaffected by legalisms. Both relationships are terminated through the interference of neighbors rather than through the direct efforts of the authorities: In Part 1, it is suggested that a neighbor or the caretaker at the apartment house was the informer; in Part 2, the other laborers or their women are suspected of informing. However, the situations are alike: There is always someone prepared to adopt a holier-than-thou attitude and to cooperate with officialdom to the discredit of a member of the group.
In both stories one sees parallel elements and can conclude that a general pattern applies in South Africa, regardless of whether love is found in city or country, in youth or middle age, with black or mulatto, by immigrant European or native Afrikaner, with farm girl or city cashier. In both parts one sees that the treatment of whites by courts is more favorable than that of nonwhites. Nadine Gordimer is not an advocate of miscegenation or of interracial romance. Rather, she suggests that interpersonal relationships should remain exactly that and should not become the concern of government policy. Romance or sex between members of different racial groups should be guided by concern for the involved parties rather than by legislative edict.