During the time of slavery in South Africa, the South African people were deprived of their homeland because the colonists colonized it. The white colonists snatched their land brutally and took their freedom of rights. In Nadine Gordimer’s, “ Country Lovers“ and Kate Chopin’s“ Desiree’s Baby“, both authors illustrate injustice and inequality within a society through the use of characterization, setting, and conflict. Both authors explore the characterization of the male characters depicted in both short stories.
In “Country Lovers”, after two weeks, Paulus a white man comes home from his veterinary college; he hears from his mother that Thebedi has a baby. He visits Thebedi`s hut in the village Kraal. He asks Thebedi to show the baby to him. Then Thebedi brings her baby and shows it to Paulus. However, when he is looking at Thebedi’s baby’s skin color carefully, he tells her immediately to not carry her baby daughter outside; instead the baby must stay in the hut. Furthermore, he suggests Thebedi to give her baby to someone so Paulus does not face any consequences. “Don’t take it out. Stay inside.
Can`t you take it away somewhere. You must give it to someone. ”(Gordimer 42). This quote illustrates how he feels ashamed to see his baby girl for the first time because he feels he fears the loss of his honor and reputation in society. He does not want his reputation to be tarnished just because he is the father of Thebedi`s child. This shows that his character is a very self-centered and a cowardly man because of injustice and inequality within a society. In the second story, “Desiree’s Baby”, Desiree desperately wants to know the reason why their baby`s skin color is half white and half black.
In return, Armand slowly sets her fingers free from his arm, pushes her hand away from him. Armand angrily responds to her is that it is her fault. “ He coldly but gently loosened her fingers from his arm and thrust the hand way from him. Desiree: “ Tell me what it means! ‘She cried despairingly. It means, “ that the child is not white; it means that you are not white“ ( Chopin 46). This quote demonstrates that Armand responds to her very angrily because he feels ashamed of his son’s skin color.
He believes that it is his wife’s fault because Desiree does not know who her ancestors are because she is an orphan, therefore she does not know anything about her ancestors, whether they are black or not. This caused Armand to abruptly respond to his wife that their son’s skin’s color is partly black because of Desireee. However, the truth is the reason why their son’s skin tone is partly black is because of Armand`s mother. But he later finds out after his wife commits suicide. This shows through his character that he is ashamed of his son`s skin color because of injustice and inequality within a society.
Therefore, both male characters are shown they are ashamed to see their children who are half black and white because of injustice and inequality in society. Both authors demonstrate setting through the use of similar socioeconomic conditions that prevail in both stories. In “Country Lovers”, in the time of Apartheid regime, Njabulo marries Thebedi because since his childhood he loved her. He could not offer his dowry to Thebedi because he is a poor farmer in Eysenduck farmland, just like Thebedi`s father. “ He had no cows to offer he was a labor on the Eysenduck farm, like her father“ (Gordimer, 41).
This quote illustrates how he could not offer cows to his wife because of his socioeconomic condition in the village. He has to work as a farmer because he is forced to work for the white people. This is the only job Njabulo could offer to his family. They cannot have a powerful job as the white people because they are black. Unfortuantly, the white people’s socioeconomic status is a farm owner because they are rich due to their race. In contrast, Njabulo and the rest of the villagers are less powerful because of the Apartheid regime.
Therefore, Thebedi`s husband has to be a poor farmer because of the injustice and inequality in society. In “Desiree’s Baby”, the second story, during the time in Louisiana, the slaves have to work for Armand`s plantation such as “picking cotton“ for harvesting the plantation. This quote illustrates how the “negroes“ are slaves who are forced to work for Armand`s plantation because they are the property of Armand. They have no right to refuse to stop working because only Armand can control these black people. Armand is a very rich man who owns a plantation because his socioeconomic status is wealthy.
In addition, e is rich because of his white skin. The white people treat them as slaves and force them to work such hard labor because of injustice and inequality within a society. Therefore, both authors have the similar socioeconomic conditions that prevail in both stories. Both authors use similar catalysts for the conflict in both stories. In “Country Lovers”, when Paulus looks at his daughter`s skin color he is very shocked and he could not control his negative emotions within him.
He could not control them because he feels very guilty and shameful for commiting a grave mistake with having a child with Thebedi. ` He struggled for a moment with a grimace of tears, anger, and self-piety“( Gordimer, 47). This quote illustrates how Paulus could not cope with his negative emotions because he feels he disgraced himself for committing a mistake that impacted his life greatly. He wished he never had a secret relationship with Thebedi because he is striving to stop his negative emotions. In addition, the catalysts of the conflict would be the baby because ever since the day Paulus discovers that Thebedi has a baby girl, he is having a hard time to control his negative emotions.
However, if Thebedi and Paulus did not make love then Paulus and Thebedi would not have a conflict in their relationship. The reason he feels intensely negative in himself is because of injustice and inequality in society. In the second story “Desireee’s Baby”, Armand did not love his wife anymore because of his baby`s skin’s color. He feels that if his son stays in his house then it would cause an “unconscious injury“ to his name. “Moreover he no longer loved her, because of the unconscious injury to his name and his home. “ (Chopin, 47).
The reason why he thinks his son would cause unconscious injury is because when Desiree questioned Armand about their baby’s skin color, she was unaware when she caused this injury, because she purposely did not want to blame her husband that it was his fault that their son’s race is half black and half white. She did not know that having a baby with a race partly black would affect him that greatly. Therefore, he does not love his wife because of the catalyst of the conflict who is their baby that caused a problem in their relationship.
Therefore, both characters have a similar problem with the catalyst of the conflict who are Thebedi’s baby and Desiree’s baby. In conclusion, both authors, Nadine Gordimer and Kate Chopin, demonstrate injustice and inequality within a society through the use of characterization, setting, and conflict. The first point is similar socioeconomic conditions that prevail in both stories, the second point is characterization of the male characters depicted in both short stories, and the third point is similar catalysts for the conflict in both stories.
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