Discuss the genre of "Once Upon a Time."

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Gordimer's work is part of the short story genre.  Traditionally, this genre defines itself in terms of being able to use "oral story- telling traditions" as well as "a swiftly sketched situation that quickly comes to its point."  These elements are employed by Gordimer in her story.  On one hand, it does open up in a fairy tale type setting, but this is used to help "sketch" the overall situation in a very brisk and quick- cadenced manner.  The use of the fairy tale scenario is used to both highlight the expositional happiness of the family and help bring about the story's sad conclusion.  Gordimer narrates the story throughout, almost in a spoken manner.  This also helps to move the story along in a very swift manner.  The short story genre enables Gordimer to explore the themes of fear of "the other" and the modern definition of tragedy in terms of perfection and destruction in a manner that quickly arrives at "its point."  The frame story that opens the narrative also helps to dislodge the idea that this story is not part of the short story genre, as Gordimer uses this frame element to bring out some of her own predispositions and some of her own ideas about freedom, fear, and the parameters of the author, elements that are revealed in an illuminating manner throughout the short story.

dilawaiz | Student

this story is a kind of fairy tale.the thing ehich makes it like a fairy tale is its opening line "once upon a time".

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Once Upon a Time

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