Nadine Gordimer is one of South Africa’s most important writers. Once Upon Time, her short story about apartheid in South Africa, was published in 1957. Once upon time there was a town named Johannesburg. Once upon time the people who lived in it were white and black; but by law they had to be very careful when they spoke to each other, because some were Boers (Afrikaners) and some were English (British). You might think that everybody would understand that each person could speak his own language—he wouldn’t want to speak anything else—and why couldn’t he just go on speaking it?
But these two languages are not like any others. They are so different from each other that they are almost separate languages, not just different ways of speaking the same one. Once upon time it could have been all right because everybody was white. Once upon time you could have said that black people just didn’t exist for the whites. Once upon time it could have gone on being all right until some change came which made it impossible to go on being just white any more—and then nobody really knew what to do about it.
Once upon a time the blacks were only servants, like Mr. Tambi’s boy in Sophiatown; they lived somewhere else when they weren’t working, and the masters hardly ever saw them, or had any idea what they were like when they themselves were alone together by themselves. Once upon a time black people were not allowed to own land in the white town, and if they came into it to live or work they lived nowhere except in certain streets called locations which were fenced in.
Once upon a time these streets had names like Vilikazi and Dinizulu and Kwane; but when the blacks who lived in them began to be more and more crowded together so that no real streets could be kept clean any longer, then they became known by numbers instead of by names. Once upon a time it could have been all right because everybody was white. Once upon a time nobody had ever heard of Sophiatown or Alexandra or District Six—places where black people weren’t even allowed to walk on the pavements, let alone live there.
Once upon a time black people could not have meetings or processions which white people might have to pass by on the street, and they had to carry passes with them if they wanted to leave their locations, just as if they were criminals. Once upon a time you couldn’t be arrested for something unless there was someone who was willing to come forward and say he’d seen you do it; but once upon a time sometimes it happened that nobody saw anything although you had done something very bad indeed. Once upon a time black boys didn’t go to school; they worked in the mines instead.
The protagonist of Once Upon a Time by Nadine Gordimer is a young black male who addresses the audience in the story, and says that he is going to tell us about how it all began one fine day. He also states that this would serve as his confession and he will be waiting for us at A Hickory-dickory Dock. Once we get there, we are greeted with what looks like an old grandmother seated upon her porch; she gets up slowly and thanks us for coming to hear her story.
Based on that description alone I already know I am dealing with something entirely different than anything anyone has ever told me before. The next two chapters tell the audience about a young black man from town who is being taken to prison by two white men. When they get there, the protagonist realizes that his three friends have been caged up with him, and he tells them how it all began one fine day. Once again we are reminded of what this fantastic tale is going to be about which makes me eager to listen closely to what else these people have in store for us.
Shortly after the prologue has concluded, Nadine Gordimer goes into detail of why our protagonist was put into jail even though he did not do anything wrong; apparently what happened was that he just kept on walking while everyone else went straight. Once this gets cleared up it seems as though everything will be okay, but it is not because white people are still racist towards black people. Once the man gets out of jail, his wife tells him that their child can’t play outside because he has to sit in there with her while his father works.
Once they get home, Gordimer questions if this was really what the family wanted for their son. Once again I am feeling satisfied with the story up until this point, but things start to get complicated when Gordimer throws us a curve ball by adding another perspective. Once Upon a Time Nadine Gordimer begins chapter three off with a new character narrating about how everything used to be back when he was younger; because of this I thought at first that it had something to do with our protagonist’s father, but it does not.
Once the story comes to a close I find myself extremely confused as to where all of these characters are going and how they will ever come together. Although Once Upon a Time Nadine Gordimer may seem like another fairy tale, it tells a much different story that requires us to think about how society is really evolving over time. Once we get into the end of Once Upon A Time By Nadine Gordimer , I was even more intrigued by how Gordimer wanted her readers to perceive this short story because that is when everything falls back into place for me, and after a second read through I believe I have figured out what she wants us to realize.
The last two chapters follow our protagonist’s son as he grows up into an adult with his own family of his own. Once this has happened, Gordimer wants us to understand that the protagonist’s son will be able to change everything because he is stronger than the white people who treat him like dirt; once all of this happens, I am not too sure if Nadine Gordimer wanted her readers to think about what else could happen after the story is over or if she was trying to make them realize something entirely different.
Since Once Upon a Time By Nadine Gordimer does not tell me any details on how it ends, I am forced to come up with my own conclusion based on what I have read already; some others may feel differently about Once Upon A Time ‘s conclusion, but personally I like the story I made up in my mind for Once Upon a Time Nadine Gordimer because it will benefit society in the future.
Once we get to Once Upon A Time ‘s conclusion, I realize that everything is going to be okay and Gordimer feels content with how she has concluded her short story. Once this happens I see Once Upon a Time By Nadine Gordimer as another fairy tale that tells much more than just a fantastic world filled with imagination; instead, Once Upon a Time By Nadine Gordimer tells how much society has changed over time and what generations of people will have to do in order to change things for the better.