Nadine Gordimer

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What is your analysis of "Some Are Born to Sweet Delight"?

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In this story, Nadine Gordimer explores issues of complicity in relationship to predetermination or coincidence. The class divisions of British society figure strongly in the unfolding events even as Vera rejects national, ethnic, and religious prejudice. Vera’s heartfelt desire is to move out of her family’s class status—literally "up" from their basement flat. Her limited worldview is linked in part to class, in terms of her education and opportunities to date. We learn little of Rad’s reasons for moving to her country or for the radicalization that led to his decisions to first join the terrorists and later use Vera to fulfill his plot.

While Gordimer suggests that coincidence placed Vera onto the path of meeting Rad, she also makes the reader wonder about Vera’s refusal to ask questions and her naïve acceptance of Rad’s strong will, in regard to pregnancy, marriage, and travel. Are we meant to regard Vera as another victim, equally innocent as her unborn child and all the other passengers? Or does she bear some responsibility by refusing to ask hard questions? The relevance of the title remains ambiguous, given that there is ultimately no “delight,” as to whether Vera as well as Rad was born to “endless night."

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The title of Some Are Born to Sweet Delight is essentially the core of the meaning behind the story itself. This line is taken from William Blake's poem "Auguries of Innocence," where Blake states that "Some are born to sweet delight, some are born to endless night." Gordimer applies this observation to the relative ease of life enjoyed by people born in the western world compared to the difficulty of life endured by immigrants.

Vera, having been born in the western world, has enjoyed the privilege of a stable life and relatively just political system. She enjoys a job that allows her a rich social life and the ability to travel. Rad, on the other hand, has had to leave his country and suffers discrimination greatly while trying to find a better life in the western world.

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