What techniques are used in the novel July's People?

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One of the techniques used in the novel July's People is nonlinear narrative. This is an appropriate technique to use because it reflects the chaos and upheaval of Maureen Smales's life.

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A number of postmodern literary techniques can be observed in July's People by Nadine Gordimer. Arguably the most significant of these is nonlinear narrative. What this means is that the action taking place in the book does not follow a precise chronological order. At various points in the story, we move back and forth in time to the extent that we don't always know quite where we are.

However frustrating such a narrative approach may be, there's method behind the apparent madness. As the protagonist of the novel, Maureen Smales, is dealing with a massive upheaval in her life, it's entirely appropriate that there is a shift in the time frame.

In the midst of the chaos now enveloping her, Maureen instinctively has numerous flashbacks, all of which remind her of the way things used to be before the mass uprising of Black South Africans against minority-white rule. Given that her family's future is anything but secure, it's not surprising that she should constantly be looking toward the past, when things were much simpler.

Although Gordimer's use of nonlinear narrative may be a tad confusing at times, it does at least allow us to get inside the head of someone experiencing huge turmoil in their life.

The best novels are invariably those that heighten the reader's empathy for characters in difficult situations. In that sense, one can only applaud Gordimer for her use of a nonlinear narrative as a way of giving us a better understanding of someone whose life is falling to pieces.

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