The Ultimate Safari

by Nadine Gordimer

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Why did the grandmother decide to leave her husband, dead or alive, behind in Kurger Park? What would you have done if you were her?

Expert Answers

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Before the grandfather wandered off into the long grass, he was quickly becoming very weak. They had to lift him from stone to stone when they crossed a river. When he disappeared, the group looked for him throughout the afternoon and all night. The next day, they looked for him again. That afternoon, when they had waited and searched for over 24 hours, the leader of the group told the grandmother that they must move on or the children would die.

It was at this point that the grandmother decided to go on with the children. Her husband was probably dead anyway (they had seen the vultures circling). If he was not, he might well be too weak to continue the journey. It is also quite likely that he went off into the long grass to die, knowing that as it was, he would only be slowing the party down. In these circumstances, waiting for him would have meant that his sacrifice was in vain.

For everyone's sake, particularly that of the children, it seems to me that the grandmother's choice was the best she could have made in the circumstances.

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