The Pickup Questions and Answers
by Nadine Gordimer

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What happens in the beginning of The Pickup?

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In the beginning of The Pickup by Nadine Gordimer, we are introduced to the two main characters. The first is Julie Summers, who is a white woman. Julie is driving through the streets of Johannesburg when her car suddenly breaks down. She asks around for the nearest mechanic and is eventually introduced to Abdu, the second main character. Abdu is a laborer who has overstayed his permit and is now an illegal immigrant.

Abdu sees the industrialized, democratic South Africa as a land of opportunity compared to his unnamed Arabic homeland. Furthermore, he sees Julie as a representation of the status and legitimacy that he longs for in his life. Julie herself wants to simply be open to encounters, and the two begin an affair. As the novel's plot thickens and the settings change, the reader tragically sees the conflicting interests of the two main characters before they can.

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