The Ultimate Safari

by Nadine Gordimer

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Student Question

How does The Ultimate Safari reveal individuals' true nature during a crisis?

Expert Answers

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There are a couple of ways to approach this question.  If the idea was to assert the notion that crisis reveals the true nature of the individual, the grandmother would have to be the prime example.  She understands the nature of the situation and the threats to her family.  She is the one who initiates the idea of having to leave and taking the family with her.  When the family crosses Kruger Park, a threshold where it is difficult to differentiate if the family is human or hunted prey, the grandmother's drive to protect her family is revealed.  When the family arrives in the refugee camp, she works to ensure the children have schooling.  Yet, Gordimer is wise enough to fully grasp that there are political and social conditions that exceed the grasp of the individual.  In this light, there are some conditions that go outside the realm of individual autonomy.  The grandfather is lost at the pinnacle of the crisis, and the narrator, herself, is thrust into a position of anguish that would defy anyone to reflect their very best.  In the end, Gordimer renders both sets of characters to the reader.

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