Compare and Contrast
If one literary work is a ballad or a play, if one is longer or shorter than the other one, if the tone is the same between the two works, if the language differs between the two works or if it is the same, and whether one works using metaphors, while the other uses similes, will give a person clues as to what the short story and the poem have as far as form, and style. The content of the short story of “Country Lovers” and the poem “What It’s like to be a Black Girl” have women who deal with unfairness for the reason of their race and has the main character or protagonist being a black female.
Racism can be something that some people experience almost daily just like in the short story “Country Lovers “. The short story called “Country Lovers” was written by Nadine Gordimer in 1975” (Clugston, 2010). This short story is about a forbidden love between a young black girl named Thebedi and a young white boy named Paulus Eysendyck which took place on a South African farm. The main characters Paulus and Thebedi were raised together. The setting of the story takes place in mainly three areas, which would be the farm house where the boy lives, the river where they meet to hide their relationship, and the village where the girl lives.
The settings in the story help my understanding of the theme because it gives me a distinct awareness as to how the social classes play a part in the prohibition of love. The boy lives in a beautiful home that is described to be of a high social class. In the text the home is described as, “The kitchen was it lively thoroughfare, with servants, food supplies, begging cats and dogs, pots boiling over, washing being damped for ironing, and the big deep-freezer the missus had ordered from town, bearing a crocheted mate and a vase of plastic iris (Clugston, 2010)”.
This quote from the text helps me imagine a well-to-do home for the boy. Paulus Eysendyck was the child of the farm owner and Thebedi’s dad worked for Mr. Eysendyck on his farm. Paulus (a white boy) and Thebedi (a black girl) played together and spent much of their youthful days with each other. As time passed they began to grow up and the closeness between the two also grew apart. They both knew that they could not be together openly. All the way through this short story there are many extraordinary consequences.
The first takes place when the narrator talks about Paulus going away to school “This usefully happens at the same time when the author states about the age of twelve or thirteen; so that by the time early adolescence is reached, the black children are making along with the bodily changes common to all, an easy transition to adult forms of address, beginning to call their old playmates missus and baasie little master” (Clugston, 2010).
However, the attachment formed between them as children is still there. Both Paulus’ and Thebedi’s parents never forbid them from seeing one another but there was always this unspoken knowledge that they knew it was wrong because they always seemed to be hiding the fact that they did spend a lot of time with one another. An example of this would be when Paulus came home from school and brought Thebedi a gift. She told her father the missus had given them to her as a reward for some works she had done-it was true she sometimes was called to help out in the farmhouse. She told the girls in the kraal that she had a sweetheart nobody knew about, tat away, away on another farm, and they giggled, and teased, and admired her. There was a boy in the kraal called Njabulo who said he wished he could have brought her a belt and earrings. ” (Clugston, 2010).
There’s loss of innocence and forbidden love as described here when Paulus watches Thebedi wade in the water, “The schoolgirls he went swimming with at dams or pools on neighboring farms wore bikinis but the sight of their dazzling bellies and thighs in the sunlight had never made him feel what he felt now when the girl came up the bank and sat beside him, the drops of water beading off her dark legs the only points of light in the earth–smelling deep shade. ” (Clugston, 2010).
They were not afraid of one another, they had known one another always; he did with her what he had done that time in the storeroom at the wedding, and this time it was so lovely, so lovely, he was surprised . . . and she was surprised by it, too—he could see in her dark face that was part of the shade, with her big dark eyes, shiny as soft water, watching him attentively: as she had when they used to huddle over their teams of mud oxen, as she had when he told her about detention weekends at school. (Clugston, 2010). The racialism sets in hard towards the end of this short story when Paulus Eysendyck arrived home from the veterinary college for the holidays. This is where he finds out that the young black girl Thebedi had given birth to a baby. When he finds out about the baby he goes to Thebedi’s hut to see for himself. When he reaches the hut and see’s the baby first hand “He struggled for a moment with a grimace of tears, anger, and self–pity. She could not put out her hand to him.
He said, “You haven’t been near the house with it? “’ (Clugston, 2010). By his response when finding out that the two of them had created a life during their prohibited connection shows how he knew that such thing was not accepted in his society. As the story goes on Paulus returned to the hut where Thebedi and the infant child lived; and it states “She thought she heard small grunts from the hut, the kind of infant grunt that indicates a full stomach, a deep sleep.
After a time, long or short she did not know, he came out and walked away with plodding stride (his father’s gait) out of sight, towards his father’s house” (Clugston, 2010). As you read on you get the realization that Paulus killed the infant child that day when he returned to Thebedi’s hut. “The baby was not fed during the night and although she kept telling Njabulo it was sleeping, he saw for himself in the morning that it was dead. He comforted her with words and caresses. She did not cry but simply sat, staring at the door” (Clugston, 2010).
Reading this part of the story tells me that Paulus was very afraid that the community would find out about the relationship between the two and he tries to cover it up as if nothing ever happened between the two of them of which shows you how difficult life must have been back then with the racial discriminations. At the very end of this story the police had dug up the baby and brought charges against Paulus for murder. Thebedi up on the stand said “She cried hysterically in the witness box, saying yes, yes (the gilt hoop earrings swung in her ears), she saw the accused pouring liquid into the baby’s mouth.
She said he had threatened to shoot her if she told anyone” (Clugston, 2010). Over a year had gone by when Thebedi returned to the court house; but this time she told the court that “she said she had not seen what the white man did in the house” (Clugston, 2010). Nadine Gordimer penetrates the normal life that guards a person from our own evaluation. As an aspect this insight, the writer also pierces the dissimulations of clandestine operatives, those ordinary-looking folk in one’s circle whose real lives are based on active opposition to the police state.
What are exposed are not their secrets, but their humanity. Because of her testimony “The verdict on the accused was “not guilty”(Clugston, 2010). The poem “What It’s Like to Be a Black Girl (For Those of You Who Aren’t)” (Clugston, 2010), which was written by Patricia Smith in 1991. An explanation in its purest form of “What it’s like to be a Black Girl (for those of you who aren’t)” by Patricia Smith, is just that, an explanation. From the first three syllables “First of all,” the author gives a sense of a story being told.
She uses jagged sentence structure and strong forceful language to also show the reader the seriousness of her topic. Smith’s poem gives the audience an insider’s view into a young black girl’s transition into black woman-hood at a time where both being a black girl and a black woman was not as welcomed. Puberty is usually defined by the biological changes a young girl’s body undertakes around the age of 9 up until about 14. “It’s being 9 years old and feeling like you’re not finished,” writes Smith, “like your edges are wild, like there’s something, everything, wrong. (Smith, 4) These thoughts run through the minds of puberty stricken young girl. The poem, “What’s it like to be a Black Girl”, is a look into the mind of a black girl in a society that is fueled with racism and discrimination, both of race and gender. This person is transitioning from a young black girl into young black women and trying to accept the changes that are taking place within her body. She has been taught to be ashamed of who she is, what she looks like, and where she comes from. She wants her features to look like those who are accepted in society.
Nadine Gordimer was born in 1923, “She has lived in South Africa since birth and, except for a year spent in university, has devoted all her adult life to writing—completing 13 novels and 10 short story collections, works that have been published in 40 languages. Her strong opposition to apartheid, the socioeconomic system that oppressed the majority black population in South Africa (1949—1994), is a dominant theme in her writing, with her later works reflecting challenges accompanying the changing attitudes in the country toward racial relationships.
She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991” (Clugston, 2010). Patricia Smith who was born in 1955, was an African American poet and performance artist, has won the National Poetry Slam four times. The hardships that these women suffer during their life can be suffered by anyone but growing up in a discriminatory atmosphere creates a more dramatic story or outcome. The great thing about reading is that it brings you to another place, time and feeling. At times a story can make you smile with the character, and other times make you cry with him.
Even with some stories and poems the literature may even allow the reader to identify with the characters. In conclusion, reality can often be a lot like a piece of literature, in that a person may be going through the exact same thing, or something similar, and be feeling the same way. It is effortless to view the tough and unspoken racism demonstrated in Nadine Gordimer’s “Country Lovers” as well as how the girl feels in Patricia Smith’s What It’s Like to Be a Black Girl (For Those of You Who Aren’t).