The Ultimate Safari

by Nadine Gordimer

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Discussion Topic

The reasons behind the grandmother's decisions to leave the village and her husband in "The Ultimate Safari."

Summary:

The grandmother in "The Ultimate Safari" decides to leave the village and her husband due to the increasing danger and instability caused by the civil war. She prioritizes the safety of her grandchildren over staying with her husband, who is too ill to travel, and sets out on a perilous journey to find refuge and a better future for her family.

Expert Answers

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Why did the grandmother decide to leave the village in "The Ultimate Safari"?

The marauding group of bandits that tore apart the narrator's village, kidnapped her mother and father, and threatened the stability of the family causes the Grandmother to want leave the village.  The group that seems to be funded by the South African government in the hopes of destabilizing the Mozambique government is charged with causing disruption and chaos in all the villages.  With the disappearance of the father and then the mother of the narrator, the Grandmother has little choice but to exert her matriarchal influence and suggest that the family make the trek across Kruger Park to the border.  It is through the grandmother's actions that the family leaves and the story develops.

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Why did the grandmother in "The Ultimate Safari" decide to leave her husband behind in Kurger Park?

Before the grandfather wandered off into the long grass, he was quickly becoming very weak. They had to lift him from stone to stone when they crossed a river. When he disappeared, the group looked for him throughout the afternoon and all night. The next day, they looked for him again. That afternoon, when they had waited and searched for over 24 hours, the leader of the group told the grandmother that they must move on or the children would die.

It was at this point that the grandmother decided to go on with the children. Her husband was probably dead anyway (they had seen the vultures circling). If he was not, he might well be too weak to continue the journey. It is also quite likely that he went off into the long grass to die, knowing that as it was, he would only be slowing the party down. In these circumstances, waiting for him would have meant that his sacrifice was in vain.

For everyone's sake, particularly that of the children, it seems to me that the grandmother's choice was the best she could have made in the circumstances.

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