What is the short story "The Moment Before The Gun Went Off" about?

The short story "The Moment Before the Gun Went Off" is about a white South African farmer during the apartheid era who accidentally kills a young Black man. As one can imagine, the killing generates considerable controversy. Later on in the story, we discover that the young Black man was actually the farmer's son.

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The short story "The Moment Before The Gun Went Off" is about appearances and how they can deceive. Gordimer uses dramatic irony to offer insight into the realities of the story's central tragedy.

At the beginning of the story, she gives us a glimpse into the main character's inner dialogue. Gordimer's skillful use of the third-person omniscient viewpoint lays bare the humanity of Marais van der Vyver, the white farmer who shot Lucas (the twenty-year-old farmhand in the story). We are privy to van der Vyver's private thoughts and fears in a way that the larger society in the story isn't.

After the accident, van der Vyver struggles with grief and fear. This juxtaposition of emotions appears to be incongruent at first glance. However, Gordimer provides an explanation for it: although heartbroken by Lucas's death, van der Vyver also fears that the accident will result in retaliation against his family and other white people.

In the story, Gordimer uses the imagery of burning police stations and...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1118 words.)

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