Nadine Gordimer

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How does "Happy Event" by Nadine Gordimer reveal stereotyped social attitudes of whites towards Blacks in South Africa?

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Once instance of stereotyping in Nadine Gordimer's "Happy Event" occurs when, to placate her two quarreling Black servants, Ella gives them each a cheap item, as if they are children. In fact, she compares the gifts to giving her own children "a handful of sweets" to "equalize some difference" between them. The gifts are an old shirt and a cheap blue satin nightgown. This fits racist stereotypes of treating Black people if they are children and as if not worthy of more expensive items.

Stereotyping occurs, too, when Ella doesn't notice that Lena is heavily pregnant. This reveals that to Ella, Lena is just a servant she doesn't really see, a being not quite fully human to her. It's hard to imagine Ella would have missed a white friend's end-of-term pregnancy.

Probably the worst stereotyping comes in court, when the magistrate asks the doctor if a woman could go back to her normal housework only thirty-six hours after giving birth. The doctor, showing he believes stereotypes that Africans are more like animals than Europeans, says that while it would not be likely for a European woman, it would be for an African. After all, as the text says, "everyone" (everyone white) knows that the Black people have more "stamina." In reality, whites and Black people recover at the same rate from childbirth.

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