Once Upon a Time's events are presented in strict chronological order. Give some examples of phases that move readers from one time to other.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Gordimer's short story, strict chronology of events is important because it shows the levels to which the family becomes more and more obsessed with their safety and security.  Each step towards realizing this vision of ideal protection is actually a great step towards their inevitable destruction.  That is to say, as the family becomes increasingly driven to insulate themselves in their world of wealth and privilege, their imaginative fears about the outside world begin to grow.  Chronology allows the reader to see this in a fashion where it becomes more apparent that each step is going to bring the family closer to some dramatic end, in this case the death of their child at the hands of the very same protective measures enacted.  This is brought out through foreshadowing.  The author reveals this through repetition of phrases and thematic elements.  The beginning elements reflect that the family loves one another "very much."  They love their child "very much," and their family pet "very much."  Such a way of phrasing reflects the protective element which will doom the family under the guise of displaying "very much" in terms of affection.  The "You Have Been Warned" repetition also reflects that there is an ominous tone being struck, as if something unholy awaits.  The description of the mother in law, who initiates the discussion of protection from the outside world, and the constant "Let's take heed of their advice," reflects the insecurity of the family and the irrational pursuit of an ideal of perfection.  Each step the family takes foreshadows the inevitable end that the danger does not lie outside of the house, but rather with the looming and senseless fear within it.