Trace the development of the theme of fear in Nadine Gordimers, "Once Upon a Time"?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two components to this tracing of fear in Gordimer's work.  The first would be in Gordimer herself.  She is susceptible to the worst fears in her own mind, jumping from incident to incident of crime in the neighborhood.  She lacks any focus and rational thought in this setting.  Invariably, she ends up understanding the full implications of the situation and learns how to understand her fear and not succumb to the worst aspects of it.  This is in stark contrast to the story she creates, as the family essentially lives in fear of the "the other," the world outside and the more sinister elements of human consciousness.  All of the family's actions are done out of fear, out of this paranoia of the outside world.  Eventually, it is this fear which kills the family's happiness, as the barbed wire ensnares the child who is acting on his own imagination, the last refuge from fear.