How are Nadine Gordimer's political views reflected in Once Upon A Time?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nadine Gordimer is a respected South African writer who wants to share a message with others and who was active in the political struggle against Apartheid. In her short story Once Upon A Time, Gordimer expresses her political views at the very beginning when she speaks of the pressure exerted upon her, the narrator, to write a story for children. She does not take kindly to being forced to conform just because someone thinks that "every writer ought to write at least one story for children." It clearly disturbs her sleep and is responsible for her active imagination as she recounts a "bedtime story." 

The narrator informs the reader that she has no burglar bars or "gun under the pillow" and this also reveals her political stance. She refuses to be forced to believe that, to quote from her bedtime story, the "people of another color" have created this atmosphere of fear and this lack of faith in human nature. She does admit however, that she is affected by stories of people murdered "in broad daylight" and she recognizes the hazards of employing "casual labor."

Gordimer wants the reader to be better informed and to be more aware that danger and threats do not always come from an external source. She is effectively encouraging people to look inward and fix their own problems before they hem themselves in and exacerbate existing difficulties all the while blaming others for their predicament.   

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Once Upon a Time

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