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"Country Lovers" by Nadine Gordimer, an Analysis

Lee is a Social Anthropology graduate with a master’s degree in Management who has a penchant for the written word.

Nadine Gordimer. Author, Country Lovers and other interracial themed fiction.

Nadine Gordimer. Author, Country Lovers and other interracial themed fiction.

Country Lovers (1975) is a story of forbidden love between a black woman—Thebedi, and Paulus, the son of her white masters. It was a story of a love that bore childhood romance that blossomed into adulthood until the harmless flirtation led to sexual curiosity. Eventually, Thebedi got pregnant with his child without him knowing it. When he left for college and did go back, he found out that Thebedi was already married to Njabulo. Njabulo accepted the child as his own, but Paulus overcame fear upon discovering the child took matters into his own hand. The next day, the child mysteriously died (as cited in Clugston, 2010, pp. 44-50). This essay uses a historical approach in criticizing and analyzing the theme of the story.

Country Lovers is a very engaging story because of the intensity and the scandalous nature of the topic. Because of the heightened sense of racial prejudice during the early 1900s, a forbidden romance—an interracial romance is considered a social taboo. And to even consider writing literature that centers on this topic are genuinely fascinating and attention-grabbing to any readers, especially to those aware of American History and the heightened racial tension between the African Americans and the Caucasians in the South. This is very unpopular and unsavory a topic for some but a social reality nonetheless. Moreover, the social stigma attached to mulattos is verifiable proof that though this is a work of fiction, it is grounded on social reality.

Another aspect that adds merit to the story is the credibility of the author. Nadine Gordimer was born in 1923 in South Africa and had a firm conviction on exposing the injustices that the majority of the black people are suffering—her people. These social injustices are the central themes of her writing and have since made an impact on improving racial relationships among countries (Clugston, 2010, p. 44).

Country Lover's central theme pivots on the double whammy that Thebedi experienced—first for being black, second for being a woman. As black, Thebedi is forbidden to have a relationship with a white male, thus "He told her, each time when they would meet again" because they cannot be seen in public together (Clugston, 2010, p. 45). It was through these secret rendezvous that their forbidden sexual encounters took place.

And when Thebedi did get pregnant, she got prejudiced once again because of her gender. She felt powerless to stop Paulus from killing her child. She was unheeded when she testified in court. At first, she claimed that "she saw the accused pouring liquid into the baby's mouth. She said he had threatened to shoot her if she told anyone." Yet a year later, she retracted her testimony and, in a calmer manner, testified that" she had not seen what the white man did in the house" (Clugston, 2010, p. 49).

Though the story exposes the harsh reality that black women are prone to various forms of oppression, it also allows readers to think if they are also active or passive actors of their faith. If only Thebedi had a sense of dignity and self-worth, she could have stood firm and held her ground, if only to save her baby.


Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into Literature. California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.


A on May 09, 2020:

What are some famous quotes that relate to social injustice

N on August 21, 2018:

Nice story

Pharmd857 on August 26, 2014:

Scroll to Continue

Very nice site!

Pharmd978 on August 20, 2014:

Very nice site!

Pharmd534 on August 15, 2014:

Very nice site!

Honey on September 17, 2012:

I trying to find some form of sybolism but I feel the story is very direct.

lee custodio (author) on April 26, 2012:

Hi Jessica! My comment may be too late but it could help you on writing other papers. The only tip I could think of is to focus on just one facet of the story. Often times, there are many social issues being discussed i.e. racial discrimination, gender inequality, status quo, etc. Once you've picked one, then just elaborate on that. Also pick one approach in criticizing your paper if the point you want to discuss is too broad.

Jessica L. Glover on April 23, 2012:

I am also doing an analysis of Nadine Gordimer's Country Lovers and I am finding that there is just so much there to discuss, I keep feeling like the walls are crashing in on me. My paper is due for my online class tonight and although I already have 7 pages I still feel like there is more to discuss. How do you limit yourself?

lee custodio (author) on September 26, 2011:

Thank you for a wonderful comment. yes, prejudice is a social problem that i think would take decades, millennium even and still won't get fixed.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on August 14, 2011:

You wrote a wonderful hub about a century old problem and it is still going on make no mistake. If mankind could overcome prejudice the world definitely would be a better place.

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