What is the significance of the framed narrative technique used in the context of the story "Once Upon A Time"?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Studying framing narratives very carefully is often the way to understanding the point and purpose of the fiction where they occur, and this great short story is no exception. Let us remember that the story begins with the author being asked to write a story for fiction. Initially she refuses, but an experience one night when she wakes up, filled with fear that there is an intruder in her house, encourages her to make a parody of a fairy tale for children which concerns the irrational fear of her countrymen and how fear is driving them to kill the very things that are most important to them. Note the point of the story, as the author states in her framing narrative, after hearing the sounds at night that make her think there is somebody in her house:

But I learned that I was to be neither threatened nor spared. There was no human weight pressing on the boards, the creaking was a buckling, an epicenter of stress. I was in it.

The framing narrative of this short story thus points towards the fact that the biggest problem with South Africa is the South Africans themselves who have let fear control them to such an extent that they risk destroying what is most important to them.

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Once Upon a Time

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