Once Upon A Time By Nadine Gordimer

Decent Essays

Nadine Gordimer’s short story “Once Upon a Time” is about a fairy tale that goes terribly wrong. The narrator is initially roused by something that sounds like an intruder. To help herself go back to sleep, she tells herself a “bedtime story.” Here, a South African family lives in a gated community away from rioters and burglars; to keep themselves safe, all of the neighbors build immense walls and genius security systems. The family’s young, curious boy is always fascinated by the security, and he eventually makes the mistake of climbing into the DRAGON’S TEETH, mangling him to death or near-death. Gordimer incorporates ignorance, fear, and suspense to make this story incredibly compelling and astounding. Ignorance creates the fairy tale’s problems. For example, the author states there are many rioters and wrongdoers, but the family lives in a subdivision away from them. “People of color” (Gordimer 1) are also contained in another area. These minorities are “not allowed in the subdivision, except as reliable housemaids and gardeners, so there was nothing to fear” (2). This clearly shows the family’s intention is to hide away from the despair of others and live “happily ever after” (1). The entire neighborhood also fails to realize it is burying itself alive. Their alarm systems constantly go off; whether they are caused by cats or burglars does not matter because people become accustomed to the alarms and “the din roused the inhabitants of the suburb no more than the

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