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"My Turn, Now": Debunking the Gordimer "Mystique" in "My Son's Story" Author(s): Jorshinelle T.

Sonza Source: Research in African Literatures, Vol. 25, No. 4 (Winter, 1994), pp. 105-116 Published by: Indiana University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3819870 . Accessed: 26/03/2013 15:21
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"My Now": the

Turn,

Debunking
Gordimer "Mystique" in My Son's Story
T. Sonza Jorshinelle

Nadine Gordimer'srole as a white woman writer in South Africa has elicited a substantial measure of controversy. Gordimer'sinternational repute has been undermined by some hostile reactions to her works from South Africans or ex-South Africans (Smith, CriticalEssays 3). Despite Gordimer'sstrong disavowal of apartheid,radicalwritershave raiseddoubts about her commitment to the South African experience. In a 1965 essay entitled "Les Grandes Dames," critic Lewis Nkosi placed Gordimer and Doris Lessing in the same humanist category and, in a more recent study, Abdul R. JanMohamed juxtaposed three "colonial novelists" (Gordimer, Joyce Cary, and Isak Dinesen) and three "African" novelists (Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and Alex La Guma).1 Ironically, while Gordimer is dismissed as "colonial," she has received the backhanded compliment of seeing her novels banned in her own country (Newman 15).2 However, on the whole, critics agree in citing the loneliness of Gordimer's dissent (Smith, CriticalEssays2-8, 13-17). Unfortunately, attacks made on Gordimer'sworks are not limited to what is perceived by critics as her ambivalent position in the political spectrum of the South African experience but are extended to her supposedly evasive engagement with the black women's strugglefor liberation. Consequently, the critics have been divided as well in their evaluation of Gordimer as a woman writer. Of significance is Dorothy Driver's 1983 essay, "Nadine Gordimer: The Politicisation of Women." In this seminal piece

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which examines Gordimer's works from a feminist perspective, Driver observes: "There are no self-defined characters as heroines" (31). Driver adds that female characters derive power from their men, thereby making Gordimer'stexts "male-centered"(31).3 To reinforce Driver'sobservation, Cecily Lockett documents her encounter with Gordimer at the 1988 COSAW Conference in an essay, "Feminism(s) and Writing in English in South Africa": [Gordimer's] speech showed that her thinking on gender has not of shiftedat all;the sketchynatureof her talkand its tritereiteration her rather datedconceptof literary that she was androgyny suggested doing her duty as a literature figureratherthan engagingwith the
topic. (1)4

Elaine Fido, on the other hand, disagreeswith Lockett's view. In an essay, "The Guest of Honour: A Feminine View of Masculinity," Fido asserts:"Byexamining the relationship of masculinity to power and, therefore, to politics, Gordimer shares her concerns with a growing number of feminist writers"(97).5 Robin Visel elaborateson the same point of view in the essay "Othering the Self: Nadine Gordimer'sColonial Heroines," statof her consciousness ing that Gordimer'sidentification with the "blackness" is an outward movement toward "the exhilarating larger world of black Africa" (33).6 The difficulty in situating Gordimer's advocacy of sexual and racial rights continues to confront critics and readers alike. What John Cooke calls "the problem in placing Gordimer"(8) escalates into some sort of"mystique." The meanings of her works evade us; the shape of her career eludes us; and her attempts to clarifyher position vis-a-vis racial and gender issues have not convinced some of her most astute critics. This paper presents the argument that the ambivalence or the "mystique" surrounding Gordimer's works is the appropriate response to the South African experience. Despite the recent victory of Nelson Mandela, reconciling racial and gender conflicts is a complicated process that defies simplistic political solutions. In hindsight, the history of both blacks and whites caught in the net of violence in South Africa reveals the need for provisional solutions that can only be carriedout in the protracted stages. Nadine Gordimer'sliterary works, in recording social and political events marked by enormous complications, exemplify the same shifts and tentativeness. The contradictions, for instance, evident in Gordimer'srhetoric and political action tend to obscure her position with regardto the racial and gender conflicts in South Africa. Her benign declaration that she is "only a writerwho happens to be a 'woman"'(Visel 97) somehow undergoeserasure when she actively organizesand mobilizes women to negotiate collectively for their rights.7Also, by quoting Bazarov in Fathersand Sons, Gordimer neutralizesher political line that she writes only because "life happened to be like that" (Clingman 11). She later slides into another mindset when she says, "Politics is a character in South Africa"(Clingman 10).8

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of Gordimer's "voice" The multipleanddialogicresonance accounts for the complexityof her statusas a white womanwriterin South Africa. in the politicaldynamAlso, the visibleshiftsmaybe historically grounded forracialandgender in South African icscurrently the struggle takingplace "if one find excusesforGordiLockett observes that could emancipation. of women'sissuesin the early1980s,it becomesmorediffimer'srejections with cult to do so in the 1990s.Eventhe democratic politicalmovements on havebegunto placemoreemphasis so clearlyidentifies whichGordimer of womenin South Africa"(13). Given the presentpolitical the problem to clarify areencouraged situationin South Africa,writers like Gordimer racial and In a post-apartheid theircommitments. era, gendersubjugation, even persistingin their insidiousand subtleforms,need to be addressed moreaggressively. commitmentto the South Gordimer's Thus, as this papercalibrates a majorchangethat evolvedover40 Africanexperience,it also identifies yearsin the writer's politicalandfeministoutlook,as indicatedin a recent to her previous novel, My Son'sStory(1990).9Compared works,a radical text revealsa moreintenseengagement. shift takesplaceas the Gordimer The novel unfoldsthe emergence of the "definitive the text,"subverting the new Gordimer clarifies her South Africa, "mystique." By anticipating as one who lead. the need for blacks to position recognizes of informs the reader thatGordimer has,in the making MySon'sStory black SouthAfrica's surrendered to women the position destiny, privileged of whitewomen.Hannah,the whitewoman,is represented asflawedin her activism.It is Aila who undertakes the revolutionary with intenstruggle in the historical herself asthe rightful drama sity,thuspositioning performer enactedin South Africa.Forthe firsttime, Gordimer valorizes the black woman's it the centrality it deserves. participation byproviding the novel transforms the male-centered text intoa more Furthermore, activism as a black male is his "disabled" "womanly" space.Sonny's through with a white members doubt his mistress; questionable relationship party of his because connections with Hannah. is It the black woman, allegiance of the blackcolonialthrough Aila, who reconcilesthe split-consciousness hermeaningful of everyday withhistory andof politicalaction interweaving with politicalthought.Forthe firsttime, the malecharacter relinactually his roleasmentorandleader, an abdication thatGordimer quishes suggests andhints at in an earlier in James novel,July'sPeople (Gordimer Lecture). undercuts the maletext withmoreimmediacy andsavagery. MySon'sStory A close examinationof the novel revealsthe ascendancy of black in the revolutionary characters a that resonance struggle, perspective gains in Gordimer's recentstatementthat blacksshouldlead and whiteswould novelsappropriately 81). Gordimer's merelyhave to follow(Schwartz generatecolorlinesthataredecidedby "consciousness; andin a country where damnsitself"(Clingman12), an affiliation withora segregation "apartheid fromwhatit meansto be blackbecomesa self-defining ideology.

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Gordimer's use of the insider-outsider narrator effectively draws boundariesbetween blacks and whites. Will, the point of view in the story, critiques and therefore demythifies the father's heroic role in the struggle and exposes the self-serving interest of his mistress.Within a largercontext; Will's assertionsare indictments against the "contaminatedconsciousness" of colonials who, in the guise of Sonny as a cultural workerand Hannah as an international human-rights activist, perpetuate the dominance of the Eurocentric system. Through Will as the narrator,Gordimer identifies the traces and residuesof the oppressionviolating the black body politic. The writer privileges the point of view in the novel with convincing credibility. When Will, the son, as narratorclaims, "Itwas I who had discovered him, not he, me" (3), he is able to penetrate the socially constructed facade built by Sonny in his role as revolutionary hero. Will discredits the fame his father has acquiredas a distinguished speakerat rallies and demonstrations. Despite Sonny's role as "the pride of the old people" (5) because "everything he did evinced distinction" (7), the son undermines such claims to glory by dismissinghis father as a "genericdiminutive" (5). As the narrator's lens zooms in, Sonny's real characteremerges.Gordimer, in creatan ing amazinglyclear portraitof Sonny through Will, reduces the ambivalence in her own political alignment. As a black revolutionary in South Africa who has a "colonial mentality"(17), Sonny is damned. His predispositiontowardthe dominant culture is indicated by various facets of his life. Of significance is how he has translated the landscape of his mind by erecting boundariesseparatingthe black and white of his colonial identity. For instance, he isolates his family from the veld where the proletarianblacks are. He imprisonshis children within the safe confines of his bourgeoisworld by keeping them busywith more upscale white, middle-class activities-ballet for his daughter and tennis for his son-instead of allowing them to play with the poor blacks. The son observes, "My father made a circumscription of our life within the areas open to us like a charmed circle" (20). To sustain that charmed circle, on his children: "He readsto us publications Sonny imposes "miseducation" from England with stories of brave fighter pilots and King Arthur's Round Table for me and romantic fables retold in picturesfor my sister"(20). Consequently, as Sonny replaceshis indigenous culturewith an irrelevant worldview, he undergoes a crisis as the paradigmsof his identity are destabilized.The son, Will, whom Sonny names afterWilliam Shakespeare, comments: "We didn't have any particularsense of what we were" (20). If "consciousness" is an index of one's allegiances, then Sonny's may be labeled as "foreign"in his own country. Ironically, without his knowing it, who he is has been constructed by a system operating within white identity categories. Gordimer clarifiesher appraisalof a colonial by providing the mental landscapewith its demographicsituatedness.The split in the colonial's consciousness is charted in terms of borders. His comrades in the movement orderSonny and his family to stay in a white area, a neither-here-nor-there

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location. The son succinctly describes their predicament: "So we went across the city, tried to get lost in foreign territory,deceiving each other" (30). The family trespassing into neutral terrain is Gordimer'spolitically loaded statement about false consciousness. Through Will, Gordimer further underscoresSonny's fragmentation by depicting him as a satellite of foreign powers.As middleman, Sonny facilitates the setting-up of other hegemonic outposts in South Africa. He functions as a negotiator of white values as he passeson to his family and peershis superficialconcern with white values, his reliance on the civilizing mission of the Rotary and the Lions Club, and his relentless practice of consumerism. Sonny, in his capacity as the middleman, facilitates and operates the Eurocentric structures of power-the school, the missions, and big business-within the black enclaves (Fanon 35-106).1?Paradoxically,Sonny is caught in a double-bind. While he perpetuatesthe dominant system to further oppresshis people, he also conspires with social forces to bring about his own destruction. Sonny unwittingly becomes both villain and victim. When Sonny falls in love with a white woman activist, Hannah, he furtherdiminishes the black male colonial in the political process.The mistress functions as an extension of Sonny's "white mind." Will says, "Of course, she is blonde. The wet dreamis an infection broughtto us by the laws that have decided what we are and what they are-the blonde ones" (14). The alliance of Sonny and Hannah is suspect;when both occupy a broader space within which foreign intervention operates, they pose a greater threat. Gordimerundercutsthe strength of that alliance by constituting it as "collusion"with the power structures. Thus, the commitment of Sonny and Hannah to the Black Cause is representedas "diminished."A case in point is their perception of the revolutionary struggle in the realm of ideas and abstraction, not in the arena of Realpolitik. Sonny "became fascinated, as an intellectual exercise, with the idea of power as an abstraction,an extra-religiousmystery"(17). Hannah, in the same vein, carriedon "anabstractedfight againstevil which is the mystification of religion"(89). True to form,when they both had the opportunity to put their lives on the line, they evaded their political responsibility. For instance, Hannah and Sonny dodged the opportunity to concretize their revolutionary impulse during the demonstration for "the cleansing of the graces"(held in honor of the nine young Africans killed in a rally). During the melee of tear gas and shootouts, a young bloodied activist crossed their path and fell at their feet. They could have saved him. Instead, they ran, terrorizedby the Afrikaner police. Their betrayal of a son of Africa is Gordimer'sstrong statement against the spectator status of any freedom fighter. Predictably,Sonny and Hannah are depicted as revolutionarieswith, ironically, essentializing and universalizing tendencies. Hannah's description of Sonny as a "goodman"and of their love nest as "everywhere" erodes the specificity of location and identification. Sonny definitely is in character when he is initially attracted to Hannah because of the latter's use of his favorite quotation, "Happyfor battle" (35). Using the word "battle"within

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a quotationis the closestthey, as philosophizing couldget revolutionaries, to the experience of warfare. with bookson tranAlso, theirpreoccupation scendenttopicsandtheirobsession with cultural artifacts as symbols-for or a Van Gogh reproduction-indiexample,a driedhead of a sunflower catestheirinclinationtoward view of culture. Theirvicarious a neutralized with labels in the wordsof party them, experience presenthistoryrightly as"disaffected" members, (179). HannahandSonnyaretrapped in the realmof ideasandabstraction; as such,theircreationmythcan neverusherin a new life. Hannah,in forgwith Sonny, can never bear the sons who will ing a barrenpartnership inherit the futureof Africa.As mistress,she can never fit in the role of withwhomthe liberators "motherland" of BlackAfricacan identify. Conseas characters in the creation in the Gordimer quently, mythdevelopedby of birthandrenewal. Like novel, HannahandSonnydefythe possibilities fossilized in a medallion "fixed of the zodiac" creatures, theyfindthemselves (224). The imageof HannahandSonnyjoininghandsas they commemoratea tombsignifies the finalityof death.As faras Gordimer is concerned, the alliancebetweena white femaleactivistanda blackmalecolonialcan nevergenerate the excitementof eventfulbeginnings. Gordimer's emergingcertaintyabout political and feminist issues revealsitselfthrough the physical boundaries with whichshe marks offand isolatescolonial space from the rest of the community.The space that concealed,and, therefore,not Sonny shareswith Hannah is segregated, interactive. the observes the death-likeatmosphere around Will, narrator, it. Accordingto him, the cottageoccupiedby his fatherandHannahlacks the organicconnectedness that a home with peopleand everyday life has. Thus, the love nest assumesan air of unreality.To illustrate,the room "where brasandpantslie about" (132) hasa temporal look,as if the grubby loversthemselves aretransients. Trueenough,Sonnyfeels"strange" (142) as he is slowlyevicted when Hannahintroduces a white malefriendinto whathe regards assacred his legitimate ground. Sonnynowsurrenders right to possess an equitable with a white woman. he realizes thata space Finally, blackmanoccupying whitespaceis always the alien:"Over the momenthe seesthe foreigntree,the elementlikehimselfthatdoesn'tbelong..."(141). The senseof wherehe is, as someoneestranged, becomesalmostphysical. Gordimer's useof actualboundaries to elaborate the blackman's persistent exclusion reaffirms her on racial issues. psychological position of HannahandSonny as transgressing However,in her presentation colonials, Gordimerredeemsthe white woman along gender lines. For instance, in a curioussort of extendedfamily,Hannah imaginesherself linkedto the womenin Sonny'sfamily. Will observes thatshe mustbe some sortof sisterto Aila sincehis fatherlikedboth of them.In Hannah's roleas she and Aila into her member, family incorporates Baby protectivecircle. She willinglyhelpsboth motheranddaughter in theirsubversive political Will informs the reader that "Hannah didn'texcludeAila. She operations. conceivedAila asan equal,not an adversary" (68). When Aila finallyjoins

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the undergroundresistance, Hannah, in a celebratorygesture, cries tears of joy. She acknowledges the enormous responsibility that black women have assumed in South Africa's struggle for liberation. As a result, the white woman activist happily and willingly relinquishesher role as the majorperformerin the theater of revolution to her black sister. Gordimerclearly reducesSonny's claim to masculinity (in contrast to Hannah's "enabling")as a tactic to strengthen her feminist position. Sonny's need for Hannah is like a psychological void, an emptiness upon which he inscribeshis inadequacies. His overwhelming need to be legitimized by a white woman signals his sexual insecurities. Will reports that Hannah's approval was "sun to Sonny's face" (64). As a black male colonial, Sonny enjoys the superficialtermsof his inclusion into the white society. He is convinced that his sexual encounters with one white woman, no matter how colonial the terms of intimacy may be, singularly qualify him to pass as white. Furthermore,he mistakenly misinterpretsthe ritualsof decorum and proprietyas signs of real integration. Forexample, he is ecstatic when Hannah takes him to a coffee bar:"And with a white woman companion, to pull out her chair and sit opposite her" (64). Sonny's awe of a woman belonging to the dominant race manifests itself more strongly when he initially looks up to Hannah as mentor. Gordimer avoids categorizing the white and black woman homogeneously by recognizingthe many differenceswithin their historical transformations. To illustrate, the author subverts Hannah's influence over the black male and transfersthat power to Aila, a black woman. On the other hand, Sonny's reverence for the female is shown slowly veering toward his wife as he becomes disenchanted with his white mistress. As Aila's selfless dedication to the revolutionarymovement graduallyunfolds before him, he simultaneously realizes that Hannah's political career merely glosses over hidden, ambitious intentions. The major revision-Sonny's reverence for the female is transferredfrom his white mistress to his black wife-signals that Gordimer both assertsthe feminist rupturein the monolithic patriarchal text and identifies it, within the context of South African experience, as unmistakablyblack." The ascendancy of the black woman in Gordimer'snovel is shown through the characterizationof Aila as freedomfighter;and, in a dreamwork where the black woman as wife materializes as a revolutionary figure, the author generates a blank text on which history is inscribed. The text is silent, anticipating the coming of historical moments. Aila develops her storyand voice in a political odysseythat moves fromsilence to articulation. The underground self she assumes in performing her revolutionary tasks minimizes her use of and access to common and conventional communication. By muting familiarspeech, Aila manages to construct a new language that has its foundation in conflictive revolutionaryaction and thus is always changing. Her political maturityrunscounter to that of Sonny and Hannah, whose revolutionaryactivities are merely propelled by an explosion of ideas and words, and therefore moves from noise into forced silence. Aila tells

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Sonny, "It'snot what you have to feel about it, it's how you feel" (123). As she liberates her text from the "constructed speech" of patriarchy, she invents her own authentic speech derived from the bloodshed and struggle. For Aila, "the body speaks and all is silenced" (92). Will concurs when he points out in the end, "That's what struggle is, not a platform slogan repeated like a TV jingle" (277). Gordimer undermines Sonny's reliance on the imperial language by both divesting it of meaning and establishing Aila's profound silences as truth-generating. In doing so, Gordimergives credence to feminine speech that, in having yet to rise from the debris of Europeandominance in black South Africa, is still developing. Sonny's awe of the English languageand its rhetoric, evidenced by his statement "When you have to tell people something, you have to know how to expressit properly,so that they will take you seriously"(26) is undercut by Aila's creative language,one that is genuinely mass-based. GordimerrepresentsAila's silence as mobile, the kind that undergoes an exhilarating transformation. Aila's fluency reveals a movement from dominance to liberation, from "containment"to articulation. At the startof the novel, Aila's silence is deprived of individuation. The neutrality of her language translates itself into a "neuteredsexuality":"Itwas not possible to have thought about what her small body was under her clothes. Her lovely lips and teeth formed a smile that greeted a man exactly as it did an old woman or child" (7). The androgynousAila in the beginning of the novel embodied the "problematic" as she was being socially constructed by others: "[They]did not know what to say to her that would drawa response"(5). Aila refusesto mimic the patriarchallanguage, making it difficult for others to decipher her silence. As Will puts it, "Mymother was sayingsomething else" (81). In this context, the absence of Aila's speech introduces a more functional kind of communication since it insists on silencing the constructed speech. The tension between Aila's silence that so desiresto be spoken and the conventional speech that has to be silenced is definitely disturbing:"Itwas irritablyfelt by others" (7). Gordimer, in disrupting the homogeneity of the dominant language through Aila's silencing of it, triggersa new signifying of blackness. Like Aila's language, the newly emerging blackness requiresthat the privileged identity of the superiorrace be silenced. Similar to Aila's language, it also unsettles the onlooker/listener. By "emptying" Aila's text, Gordimer attempts to erase the preconceived notion about "blackness."The author makes audible the silences that are not heard in Africa and makes visible what is not seen: "Whites don't know what they are seeing when they look at us"(261). At first,Aila's language reflectsthe same ambiguity.As woman, she is neither "heard" nor "seen."At the startof the novel, her language is embedded in Sonny's patriarchal construction of her. Will informs the reader: "Her quiet absorbed his subsumed half-thought, hesitations disguising or dissembling facial expression and fitted together the missing scene" (73).

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She was tabularasa, an open text upon which he could impose his dominance. However, at the same time, the "openness"of her text is dynamic; it refuses to be contained. As Aila loses faith in Sonny's constituted speech, she develops her own fluency. The discovery of Sonny's infidelity compels her to create a life outside her role as wife. As she grows more independent of Sonny, she aggressively assertsher individuality. She engages in more activities outside the home, enlarges her social circle of friends, and extricates herself from the bonds of familial distress.The men take over the daily chores in the house as Aila's public sphere broadens. In Will's perception, she even begins to look like a strangerin her own house. When he looks at the chair usually occupied by his mother during meals, he is convinced that the old Aila will never come back. The loss is felt in Will's sad realization:"Thereseemed a space around her that kept us off' (59). The passportAila obtains enables her to visit her daughter, who has gone underground,shows Aila much changed in a new haircut and signifies her transformedidentity. As Aila's individuality emerges, she develops her own language. Her fluency becomes more self-defining and her voice is now heard as she makes decisions on her own. She rejects Sonny's warningsabout the dangersposed by her regularvisits to Lusaka,a place populated with hard core revolutionaries. When her daughtermarriesa comrade in the resistance, Aila decides that the family should keep quiet about it. Will is startled by the change: "Since when did Aila decide what was politically expedient" (169). He also notices the politicization of her vocabulary:"Where does she get that kind of jargon?It's not her turn of phrase"(169). What is obvious in Aila's subversion of Sonny's decision-making capabilitywithin the family itself is that she "enables" her silence by silencing the patriarchal language. Will's description reinforces that growing dominance: "She hushed me...long before I could understandspeech" (206). Aila passesthe final test in the revolutionaryprocess;she offersher life to her country. Against everyone's wishes, she goes undergroundand takes greaterrisks.Will observes that Sonny is only "one of the crowd,"while his mother is the real performer: "To imagine the freedom songs and salutes for Aila" (226). Thus, Gordimerrevises the languageof revolution through the black female text so that thoughts now coincide with political action.12 While Aila places bombs in enemy houses, Baby cuts her wrists, covers the wounds with African artifacts, and joins the military arm of resistance. Evidently, the desire for liberation among women supersedesthat of men in My Son's Story.As the novel ends, Sonny is relegated to the minor role of a diplomat, while Will as the narrator is distanced from center stage as a mere "recorder." My Son's Story indicates Gordimer's role as a white woman writer within a dominantly black South Africa. The novel erases the "mystique" surroundingwhat her critics perceive as her ambivalence on issuesregarding race and gender. Thus, the text generates the transparenciesthrough which

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Gordimer's clearly defined mindset emerges. She demystifies male dominance by subvertingSonny's power;undermines the vanguardrole of white activists in the shaping of the revolutionary struggle;valorizes the indigenous and homegrown culture; and, finally, reinstates the significance of black women in the resistance against apartheid. The author'snarrativeprocess is revolutionary;she peels off the patriarchal and hegemonic skin of the Eurocentricsystem and, at the same time, adds layer upon layer of narratives to articulate the expose. Will's story interweaveswith and resonates in the narrativeadvanced by the omniscient point of view. Both stories reinforce one another without reducing their integrity to a totalizing discourse.The narratoroffersthe possibility of alternative "voices"to say that events may or may not have taken place. On the whole, however, the fabricof the text creates credibility within a story that, in being renderedand dramatized,is actually made to take place and, therefore, "happens." Thus, Gordimer'srightful participation in the revolutionary struggle in South Africa as a white woman writer also "happens."Aila's battle cry, "My turn, now" (233) resonates in the author's definitive position on the "silenced"issues in South Africa. The political grounding of the racial and gender imperatives in one of Gordimer's recent novels finally "resolves" what was earlier cited as "the problem of placing" her. Gordimer has now arrived in the country she has always envisioned as the new and free South Africa. NOTES the elusivenature of Gordimer's works aredocumented 'Responses regarding in John Cooke, TheNovelsof NadineGordimer: Private Lives/Public 7. Landscapes The sameobservation is indicated in herpreface to the second by Olive Schreiner editionof TheStory Farm. Schreiner cites the "colonial situation" of a ofanAfrican whitewriter in SouthAfricaas"settled andalienat the sametime"(1). 2InNadineGordimer, JudieNewmansuggeststhat "Gordimer maybe perceivedasdoubly in SouthAfrica,asa whiteandasa woman" (15). marginalized 3Driver's of her white womendefinethemselvesin essayinsiststhat "many termsof how maleswishto see them.Theywearthe marks of make-up so theylook two-dimensional" (31). in SouthAfricais a politicalact. She castsdoubt 4Lockett saysthatfeminism on Gordimer's commitment to the politicsof gender (1). oppression 5Fido's of Gordimer's works.She cites the analysiscalls for a reevaluation is beingtakenawayby patternwhere"theimageof vibrantmasculinity" recurring femaleprotagonists (99). This is echoed by StephenClingmanin his book, The NovelsofNadine Gordimer: theInside, whenhe statesthatafterthe '60s, History from "wesee howpowerfully of femaleliberation (97). presentiments emerge" the whitewoman's 6Viselclaimsthat "through rebellionagainstthe patriarchal orderas she struggles to defineherselfin a hostile environment, the heroine uncovers the connectionbetweenpatriarchy andracism under colonialism" (33). constantdenialaboutherfeminist 7Gordimer's hasbeenrepudiperspectives atedbycritics,including malewriters suchas StephenClingman andJohnCooke.

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Inan interview withEleanor Gordimer statesthat"a WatchelaboutMySon'sStory, same cause" co-intellectual attraction and sexual attraction serve the political feministconcerns. RobinVisel'sthesisaboutthe writer's (907), thusreinforcing 8Gordimer clarifiesher non-alignmentby stating in her interviewwith to anykindof politicalline. I Watchel:"Ihavenevertriedto shapemyimagination the sameposihaveneverallowedmyself to writepropaganda" (903). She reiterates tion in herencounterwith StephenGray,"AnInterview withNadineGordimer"; "AWriterin SouthAfrica: ArthurRavenscroft, NadineGordimer" 22;Gordimer, is "A Writer's Freedom" 49. The best positionin Gordimer's politicalperspective works foundin Driver's the observation thatGordimer's "toe essaywhereshe makes the politicalline butnot the party (32). politics" in statesthatGordimer'sJuly's the "impasse" (1981) breaks 9Clingman People this in his essay"Masters and the author's works(193). RowlandSmith reiterates andHerFiction." Servants: NadineGordimer's July's People have cited this "syndrome" Africanwriters '?Most amongnative intellectuals. Frantz Fanonhas thoroughly this phenomenonin his book The investigated Wretched of theEarth. 1'Theauthor's inclinationto privilege in herwriting herblackconsciousness is part of the developmentof her work regarding the "native question."See 45-71. Clingman 12This position contradictsHomi Bhabha'sambivalentanalysisof Aila's silenceaslanguage. to Bhabha, "Thesilencethatdoggedly followsAila's According nowturs intoan image of the 'interstices,' the in-between of the dwelling hybridity andrace" (149). historyof sexuality WORKS CITED Homi."TheWorldandthe Home." Text31/32 (1992): 149-58. Social Bhabha, The Novels Nadine Gordimer: theInside. London: Clingman, Stephen. of History from Allen andUnwin, 1986. Private Lives/Public Baton Cooke,John.TheNovelsofNadine Landscape. Gordimer; Louisiana StateUP, 1985. Rouge: The Politicisationof Women."English in Driver,Dorothy."NadineGordimer: Africa16(1983): 29-54. TheWretched Trans.ConstanceFarrington. New York: Fanon,Frantz. of theEarth. Grove,1968. A Feminine Viewof Masculinity." World LiteraFido,Elaine."AGuestof Honour: ture inEnglish Written 17 (1978):30-37. Nadine.James Lecture. The New YorkInstituteforthe Humanities. 14 Gordimer, Oct. 1982. New York: July's People. VikingP, 1981. New York: 1990. Farrar, MySon'sStory. "AWriter's Freedom." inAfrica 2 (1975):49. English withNadineGordimer." 22 Literature Gray,Stephen."AnInterview Contemporary (1981):269. AbdulR. "TheDegeneration of the GreatSouthAfricaLie:OccaJanMohamed, sionforLoving." Critical onNadine Gordimer. Boston: G. K.Hall,1990. Essays 90-96. and Writingin Englishin South Africa." Current Lockett,Cecily. "Feminism(s) 1-21. Writing(1990): Nadine Gordimer. London: 1988. Newman,Judie. Routledge,

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Grandes Dames." 1965. Nkosi,Lewis."Les Arthur. "AWriterin SouthAfrica: NadineGordimer." London Ravenscroft, Magazine5 (1965):20-28. Pat."Interview: PatSchwartz Talksto NadineGordimer." Conversations Schwartz, with Nadine Gordimer. Ed.NancyBazin andMarilyn UP of Jackson: Seymour. 1990.78-83. Mississippi, Olive. TheStory Farm.1883.New YorkandLondon: GarSchreiner, of an African landP, 1975. "Masters andServants: NadineGordimer's Smith,Rowland. July's PeopleandHer Fiction." 62 (1984):93-107. Salmagundi onNadine Gordimer. , ed.Critical Boston,Hall, 1990. Essays the Self:NadineGordimer's A ColonialHeroines." Ariel: Visel,Robin."Othering Review International Literature 19.4 33-42. (1988): of English "Nadine Gordimer." 98.4 (1991):899-910. Queen's Wachtel,Eleanor. Quarterly

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