Nadine Gordimer

873 Words Nov 11th, 2012 4 Pages
Nadine Gordimer’s short story “Town and Country Lovers” (1980) follows the developing relationship between an Austrian geologist, Dr. Franz-Josef von Leinsdorf, and a young “coloured” (mixed-race) cashier who remains nameless throughout the story. Dr. von Leinsdorf and the young girl begin an affair that ends abruptly when the relationship is discovered by police (interracial sexual relationships were illegal during apartheid).
Apathy and Prejudice
From the opening paragraphs of “Town and Country Lovers,” Gordimer criticizes the apathy of Dr. von Leinsdorf who travels the world as a geologist but “has no interest in the politics of the countries he works in.” Like other well-educated Europeans in Africa, he finds no appeal in either “the
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von Leinsdorf openly voices his prejudice when he is quoted by a newspaper as saying that “he accepted social distinctions between people but didn’t think they should be legally imposed.”
The Gulf Between White and Non-White
While Gordimer focuses primarily on Dr. von Leinsdorf’s perspective as a way to critique his apathy and prejudice, she does provide glimpses into the mind of the young coloured girl to both highlight the prejudice she must endure and to criticize her misguided adoration of white culture. When the girl first enters Dr. von Leinsdorf’s apartment building, she is in awe of the “pool with ferns, not plastic” and the waterfall that pumps electrically over the rocks. She makes an implicit comparison of the Atlantis building with her own home in “a township for people her tint,” noting that the corridors “were nicely glassed-in, not draughty.” The name of the building recalls the white myth of the city of Atlantis, and the mini-paradise created in the lobby of the building flaunts both the white wealth used to create the pool and
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