The Train from Rhodesia Questions and Answers
by Nadine Gordimer

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In "The Train from Rhodesia," what has the young wife collected on her journeys? Why does the old man sell the lion at such a low price?

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The young woman, who is on her honeymoon with her groom, has collected several souvenirs, wood carvings of bucks, hippos, and elephants. After looking at the old African's carved lion, she decides it is too expensive. Her husband, however, continues to bargain with the old man to get him to lower the price. Finally, as the train is pulling out of the station, the old man gives in and sells the lion for a fraction of what he had asked. He is so poor, he has to take whatever the rich tourist will give him, whether the price is fair or not. The woman is disgusted with her husband for taking advantage of the old man. The money meant very little to her husband, but it may well have meant survival for the old African man. This incident points to the central theme of the story: the dehumanizing effects of racial segregation in Rhodesia at that time--apartheid.

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