Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Most of Gordimer’s stories and novels evoke a sense of compassion for the characters, who are enmeshed in circumstances of their own creation. She manages to develop in her readers a genuine sympathy—even an empathy—for them; understanding, forgiveness, identification are her goals rather than condemnation, advocacy, and partisanship. Further, she manages to show the ineffable bond between individuals of different races, social status, and value systems that can be developed and sustained by respect for individuals as such: Almost all of her characters come from divergent backgrounds, yet they somehow manage to find fulfillment in each other. “Town and Country Lovers” shows the gradual growth and maturation of love between couples and suggests that when that love is fulfilled in sexual relations, it is honest and honorable—though it can be destroyed through the interposition of an artificial, arbitrary, and extrinsic morality. Ultimately, this becomes a question of whether persons should be allowed to decide their own course in life or be obliged to accept a dictated one.

At times, the author distances herself somewhat too much from her characters and their situations: This distance is achieved largely through what seems at times reportage, though because both parts of the story involve police and courtroom investigations, the journalistic quality of the written style may be defended as especially appropriate. In part 1, one can imagine that...

(The entire section is 439 words.)

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

European Immigration to South Africa
In 1652, the Dutch East India Company built a fort in South Africa near the Cape of Good...

(The entire section is 606 words.)

Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

In ‘‘Town and Country Lovers,’’ Gordimer provides details about the South African setting that give the reader...

(The entire section is 451 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Short Stories for Students)

1980: In South Africa, black and colored citizens make up 75 percent of the total population. Today: In South Africa, black and...

(The entire section is 211 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

Research laws restricting social behavior and civil rights under apartheid and compare them with similar restrictions in the United States...

(The entire section is 198 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Short Stories for Students)

Gordimer won the Booker Prize for The Conservationist (1974). In this novel, a wealthy proapartheid industrialist in South Africa...

(The entire section is 156 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Short Stories for Students)

Bazin, Nancy, ‘‘An Interview with Nadine Gordimer,’’ in Contemporary Literature, Vol. 36, No. 4, Winter...

(The entire section is 318 words.)