When comparing and contrasting the poem “What It’s Like to Be a Black Girl” by Patricia Smith with the short story “Country Lovers” By Nadine Gordimer. The character in “What It’s Like to Be a Black Girl” is based more upon recent time while “Country Lovers” is based in a older time frame. However, both stories are uniquely about wanting to be loved. The poem and the short story are both great examples of the difficulty of life between two different ethnic backgrounds. While one concentrates more on tragedy the other is faced more with acceptance that leads to tragedy.
Love although can’t be explained, has many explanations to how one can love. Whether your love goes as deep as loving through tragic times or looking for someone to love you at all times. Both of these stories focus on issues of racism, inner struggles, slavery, prejudice, and the pursuit of freedom as well as equality. At the end, everyone wants and needs to be accepted and will do whatever it takes. The poem “What It’s Like to Be a Black Girl” details the struggles of what African American women go through just to be noticed.
The poem breaks down how it is okay to be “Black” yet look “White” because that’s the look men want. In the poem the character addresses the issues about how African American women would spend countless hours in changing their appearance just to be accepted and loved by thee. “First of all, it’s being 9 years old and feeling like you’re not finished, like your edges are wild, like there’s something, everything, wrong,” (Clugston. 2010). She goes in further detail describing how she hides her natural look because she accepted that her natural look isn’t what society has pinned as natural or beautiful.
So she adds blonde hair to her head and changes her eye color to look more like a “Marilyn Monroe”. “It’s popping a bleached white mophead over the kinks of your hair and primping in front of mirrors that deny your reflection. ” (Clugston. 2010). From any other perspective the struggles of African Americans may not be fully understood. In the poem “What It’s Like to Be a Black Girl” she explains within a couple sentences the struggles of not being accepted in your own skin.
It’s as if she has accepted what she must do in order to be noticed or to be loved. All she wants is to be loved by a great man no matter the ethnicity however she believes she must change her appearance in order to be noticed by such man. “It’s finally having a man reach out for you then caving in around his fingers” (Clugston. 2010). In comparison “Country Lovers” tells a story of a young white boy who befriends the daughter of a black help on his parents farm. The two become close friends as their likes for each other develop and bring tragedy.
The boy had a reputation of flaunting and flirting however the young girl felt she was different from the rest of the girls. Nadine Gordimer writes, “When he had even met one who, at a wedding he had attended with his parents on a nearby farm, had let him do with her in a locked storeroom what people did when they made love—when he was as far from his childhood as all this, he still brought home from a shop in town a red plastic belt and gilt hoop ear–rings for the black girl, Thebedi” (Clugston. 2010).
Sadly the young girl never realized the gifts were not from love but just another gift to keep quite. As time past the boy grew older and never noticed what he was doing to the young girls heart. Gordimer writes, “The trouble was Paulus Eysendyck did not seem to realize that Thebedi was now simply one of the crowd of farm children down at the kraal, recognizable in his sister’s old clothes” (Clugston. 2010). This would play a huge part in what brought the tragic ending to the story. Thebedi ended up finding another young man, Njabulo whom she would marry.
Njabulo was the child of farmer as well however he was black. He was much like her father which made it easier for the father to accept their marriage. Typically the son in law would have something to offer the family in trade for the daughter however this young man had nothing to show. Her father liked this young man so much to the point he accepted the marriage even without a trade off. “Njabulo’s parents met with hers and the money he was to pay in place of the cows it is customary to give a prospective bride’s parents was settled upon.
He had no cows to offer; he was a labourer on the Eysendyck farm, like her father” (Clugston. 2010). Love although can’t be explained, has many explanations to how one can love. Whether your love goes as deep as loving through tragic times or looking for someone to love you at all times. Both of these stories focus on issues of racism, inner struggles, slavery, prejudice, and the pursuit of freedom as well as equality. At the end, everyone wants and needs to be accepted and will do whatever it takes.
Courtney from Study Moose
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