What can be inferred from the unstated ending of Gordimer's story?

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What readers can infer about what Gordimer leaves unstated is that the little boy dies, that she is using the story to critique apartheid in South Africa, and that she hopes the family will learn that building walls will not keep them safe.

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One inference that can be made from the ending of Gordimer's "Once Upon a Time" is that the parents recognize their mistakes.

At the end of the story, Gordimer leaves the family's reactions unstated.  She does not delve into what the mother and father thought as they carried "the bleeding mass" of their son into the house.   One inference that can be made is that the parents realized their folly regarding all of their security measures.  

Throughout the story, Gordimer describes the family as scared of the outside world. They enact security measures such as the gate, the wall, and the barbed wire thicket to keep the outside world away from them. However, when their child is destroyed by these measures, we can infer that the parents would reflect on their actions. They would have to rethink the world they have created. The desire to keep the family safe had the opposite consequence.  It endangered their boy, the love of their lives because as he crawls inside the coiled barbed wire, he "screamed and struggled deeper into its tangle."  

Gordimer shows the parents extracting their son and bringing him inside.  She does not state their thoughts to this painful reality.  We can infer that the parents would have to reconsider their fears of the outside world.  Their fears have essentially killed their son.  This can be an inference based on what is offered at the end of "Once Upon a Time."

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What can you infer about what Gordimer leaves unstated?

An inference is a reasonable deduction. In "Once Upon a Time," readers can infer that the little boy who gets tangled up in the razor wire at the top of the wall around his house dies, though this is never stated outright. Razor wire is designed to inflict maximum damage to deter people from climbing over it, and readers learn that the little boy "screamed and struggled deeper into its tangle" and that it takes a massive effort to get him cut out.

Readers can also, in a broader sense, infer that Gordimer is commenting on the apartheid that was still legal in her South African homeland at the time she wrote the story. Like all fairy tales, "Once Upon a Time" takes place in a mythic, timeless world that is associated with no one particular country, but given Gordimer's political beliefs and anti-apartheid work, it is reasonable to believe that Gordimer was condemning the inability and unwillingness of white people to deal effectively with the racial injustices in their country.

Finally, readers are left to infer whether or not the family changes their political outlook and way of life as a result of their personal tragedy. We can infer that Gordimer hopes the family will realize that building walls will not solve problems or make them safe.

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In Gordimer's Once Upon a Time, what can you infer about what Gordimer leaves unstated at the end of her story?

Nadine Gordimer's short story Once Upon A Time reveals a family's futile attempts to protect itself from an unknown force which threatens its safety. The parents go to great lengths to create a perfect family but cannot escape this concern that "people of another color" may invade their space and "stream in." First, they install electronic gates, then burglar bars and an alarm system but this is not enough because the cat triggers the alarm thereby rendering its purpose ineffective. Then they build the wall higher because the "unemployed" people are loitering and may even be able to climb over the wall into the garden. The parents notice that other families have gone to even greater lengths by adding broken glass, spikes and even "concentration-camp style" barbed wire to their walls which has no aesthetic value but it is the barbed wire which appears to be the most appropriate for their needs. They feel that it is an obvious deterrent and "anyone would think twice" before attempting to thwart their efforts and get through the fence.

It becomes apparent to the reader (and is therefore what is inferred) that the story that the mother reads to her young son is the story of Sleeping Beauty and the irony is completely obvious when the next day, the little boy sees the comparison between his own home and the "terrible thicket of thorns" or brambles which the prince who will save Sleeping Beauty must overcome. While it is the prince in the story who will manage to cut his way through the thorns, and the story will have a happy ending, the little boy only becomes more entangled in his version of thorns and it seems that the "bleeding mass" which now represents the little boy is no longer alive, having become nothing more than "it" (a bleeding mass). It is therefore also inferred that the boy has or may die from his injuries. 

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