"Country Lovers" by Nadine Gordimer, an Analysis
Country Lovers (1975) is a story of forbidden love between a black woman—Thebedi and Paulus, the son of her white masters. It was a story of a love that bore out of childhood romance that blossomed to adulthood until the harmless flirtation lead to sexual curiosity. Eventually, Thebedi got pregnant with his child without him knowing it. When he left for college and did go back, he found out that Thebedi was already married to Njabulo. Njabulo accepted the child as his own but Paulus overcome with fear upon discovering the child took matters to his own hand. The very next day, the child mysteriously died (as cited in Clugston, 2010, pp. 44-50). This essay uses a historical approach in criticizing and analyzing the theme of the story.
Country Lovers is a very engaging story because of the intensity and the scandalous nature of the topic. Because of the heightened sense of racial prejudice during the early 1900s, a forbidden romance—an interracial romance is considered social taboo. And to even consider writing a literature that centres on this topic is truly fascinating and attention-grabbing to any readers, especially to those who are aware of American History and the heightened racial tension between the African Americans and the Caucasians in the South. This is very unpopular and unsavoury a topic for some but a social reality nonetheless; and the social stigma attached to mulattos is but a verifiable proof that though this is a work of fiction, it is grounded on social reality.
Another aspect that adds merit to the story is the credibility of the author. Nadine Gordimer was born 1923 in South Africa and have strong conviction on exposing the injustices that the majority of the black people are suffering—her people. These social injustices are the central themes of her writing and have since made impacts in improving racial relationships among countries (Clugston, 2010, p. 44).
Country Lovers main theme pivots on the double whammy that Thebedi experienced—first for being black, second for being a woman. As black, Thebedi is forbidden to have a relationship with a white male, thus “He told her, each time, when they would meet again” because they cannot be seen in public together(Clugston, 2010, p. 45). It was through these secret rendezvous that their forbidden sexual encounters took place.
And when Thebedi did get pregnant, she gets prejudiced once again because of her gender. She felt powerless to stop Paulus from killing her child. She was unheeded when she testified at court. At first she claimed that “she saw the accused pouring liquid into the baby’s mouth. She said he had threatened to shoot her if she told anyone.” Yet a year later, she retracted her testimony and in a calmer manner testified that” she had not seen what the white man did in the house” (Clugston, 2010, p. 49).
Though the story was able to expose the harsh reality that black women are prone to various forms of oppression, it also allows readers to think if they are also active or passive actors of their faith. If only Thebedi have a sense of dignity and self worth, she could have stand firm and hold her ground, if only to save her baby.
Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into Literature. California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.