Nadine Gordimer’s literary work is rich with themes of apartheid, brilliant insight, concise ideas, and shifting points of views that make her work so unique. Her writing is stitched together in the most unusual way, unlike any other author. In a simple one hundred pages of My Son’s Story, you can find an explosion of politics, strong opinion, and pushed limits, buried underneath a seemingly ordinary story. It takes much more than a skim over the page to fully comprehend her depth. Without any pre-knowledge of her themes, diving into a work of hers can be overwhelming. The readers must dig into the novel and fully immerse themselves. When you are able to explore all of the layers hidden in her stories, you are able to fully understand Nadine’s work.
Nadine, a strong campaigner against apartheid, incorporates complex themes and insight of racism, particularly prevalent in South Africa during the time of her most famous works. The depth that makes her novel so intriguing stems from this theme of racism. A notable quote from My Son’s Story is the line of “Whites don’t know what they are seeing when they look at us” (Gordimer 261). Here, Nadine writes from the perspective of Will, a black male. She does this to emphasize the way his society views those of his color versus the way society views the whites. Another strategy the author uses is explained in an online article, saying “Gordimer reveals situations when reality suddenly takes another course and we are caught in our roles and expectation, in the traps of skin color, class, family, and the body itself” (Watsberg 1). Perhaps the most admirable skill of Nadine is her ability to touch on the subject so delicately. She is not shoving her beliefs down the readers throat, not persuading anyone to think a certain way, nor claiming that her views are right. Nadine simply “makes audible the silences that are not heard in Africa and makes visible what is not seen” (Sonza 2).
The ability to keep an incredibly controlled voice while writing about such controversial matters is an art of its own. Somehow, she does it, while maintaining a fine line between her personal and political views in her writing. She insists that her political theme “enriches, not molds, my fiction” (Coles 2). There is something so crisp about the way Nadine words her message. She avoids fillers and extra cushioning words, leaving her sentences concise and to the point. In a single paragraph she is able to say what most would take a few pages for. Another talent of Nadine is her ability to take the reader away from the real world and into the story. A fellow reviewer best describes this journey by saying “Gordimer knows how to manipulate the minds of her readers and hold them capture in the world she points around her characters” (Watsberg 1). These traits not only bring a breath of fresh air to her book, but aid to forming an epigrammatic style.
In My Son’s Story, two ______ stuck out to me. The first example is the use of...