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Nadine Gordimer’s July’s People

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1 Nadine Gordimer’s July’s People
An Introduction including Cultural Context

2 Nadine Gordimer images taken from < ../pages/April_14.htm>

3 Nadine Gordimer Born in 1923 in Springs, South Africa
1991 Nobel Prize of Literature Winner Daughter of Isidore and Nan Gordimer (Jewish immigrant parents)  Has witnessed how the minority white people weakened the rights of the majority black people since she was a child.

4 Written in 1981 in the wake of uprisings of the 1970s, July’s People is the imagined end to South African Apartheid. Gordimer’s prophecy was bleak and cynical, and predicted an overthrow of the apartheid system by Black South Africans July's People captures the mood of a South Africa expecting revolutionary violence just like that experienced by neighboring countries. Instead of writing about a revolution, however, the novel assumes such an event will happen and imagines what affect it might have on a liberal white family. In this case, the family decides to accept their servant's offer of refuge and flee to his village to wait out the war. Cultural Context

5 Apartheid  was a system of legalized racial segregation enforced by the National Party (NP) South African government between 1948 and 1994. With the foundation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 (first as a British dominion),racial segregation began to be officially implemented through The Native’s Land Act of 1913. This first piece of segregationist legislation was intended to restrict the ownershipand acquisition of land by blacks throughout the four provinces of the Union of SouthAfrica. When the Afrikaner Nationalists (the National Party) came to power in 1948, the system of apartheid was systematized and institutionalized under extensive legislation. The implementation of the policy was made possible by The Population Registration Act  of 1950, which put all South Africans into three racial categories: Bantu (black African), White, or Coloured (of mixed race). A fourth category, Asian (Indians andPakistanis), was added later. Having legalized racial segregation through the previousAct, the Afrikaner government further enforced the system of apartheid by a series of laws passed in the 1950s. Apartheid

6 Various laws applied in the use of public facilities, like chairs, toilets, bus stops, stair-cases, etc. By Mzoli Mncanca

7 Warnings By Mzoli Mncanca

8 Student Uprising: 1976 Black students were forced to learn in Afrikaans. Protests against Afrikaans started. More than 500 black students killed by white policemen. More than a thousand men, women and children wounded. By Mzoli Mncanca

9 Novel’s Epigraph “Interregnum” “The old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum there arises a great diversity of morbid symptoms.” – Antonio Gramsci Prison Notebooks Definition = gap between governments or social structures What is the tone of the epigraph towards the new? What word choices suggest this? Thus, what is Gordimer’s take on it?

10 Important Themes & Ideas of novel
Power shifts between “master” and “slave”, between the “colonized” and the “colonizer” Critique of white liberalism Critique of complicit, unknowing racism Exposing the falsity & hollowness of class / social structures Effect of language on power dynamics Effect of gender on power dynamics

11 Even though the novel is told in 3rd person narration, the protagonist is clearly Maureen Smales. Gordimer’s disassociating and jarring style mimics the jarring uprooting of Maureen from her comfortable upper class white existence. Disorienting sentences / paragraphs for you = connect to meaning for the character. Gordimer’s Style

12 Symbols of modern world: the gun, the Bakkie & keys, the things the family brings along, Coca-Cola, toilet paper, the radio, etc. Symbols of the future (the children) Minor characters (Martha, the Chief, July’s protégé, etc) The body The boar hunt Etc. Important Symbols

13 Connections to Ponder (come up with more)
Cloudstreet Urban vs. Rural settings Personal journeys of characters Water as renewal/cleansing Post-war dynamics Emasculation of male characters Children as Hope for the future The White Tiger Urban vs. Rural settings Master & Slave Role Reversal Revolution of the poor/oppressed Critique of colonization Exposing hypocrisy of upper class Connections to Ponder (come up with more)


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