The Moment Before The Gun Went Off: Van Der Vyer's True Identity

1250 words - 5 pages

Vladimir jeanIn Philosophy the word identity is used to designate a sense of self that develops in the course of a man's life and that both relates him to and sets him apart from his social milieu. To talk about our identity, we try to answer the question, "Who am I?". Identity gives us a location in the world and presents the link between us and the society in which we live. We have different kinds of identity: national identity, social identity, cultural/racial identity, class identity, familial identity, gender identity, sexual identity, etc. Some people say all these identities are formed beyond our control, but I believe this not to be the case. Society, politics, and experiences can greatly influence a person's identity but do not create a person's true identity. A believe a person's identity is under their immediate control. There is a person's true personality and the one they choose to respond to society with. This is true in the case of Martin Van der Vyver a character of the short story "The Moment Before The Gun Went Off" written by author Nadine Gordimer. "A story set in South Africa during the days of apartheid.The story takes place in South Africa, on Marais Van Dr Vyver's large farm, presumably in the 80's or 90's. Marais Van der Vyver is a white South African man of Dutch descent, the region Party leader and Commandant of the local security commando. Van der Vyver is married to Alida, but has had a secret affair to a black woman thus resulted in a son, Lucas. Lucas probably does not know that Van der Vyver is his father, or at least we are not told so in the text. Lucas is also one of Van der Vyver's black employees. One day, Van der Vyver took Lucas hunting (as they had done several times before). Lucas stood back on the truck to point out the game, whilst Van der Vyver sat inside the cab with the rifle beside him. The old rifle had once belonged to his father, and since his father had a policy about not having any loaded guns in their house, Van der Vyver had taken the rifle out of the cupboard assuming it was not loaded. But he was wrong. In excitement of spotting a kudu, Van der Vyver drove rather fast over a pot hole. The jolt caused the fire of the rifle, and the bullet went through the roof of the truck and into Lucas' head that stood bent over the roof. Lucas died by accident, but Van der Vyver had to give his statement of what happened at the police office, knowing that this would be reported all over the world. That means that both he and his family's lives are ruined. But neither the police nor the media knew that Lucas was not just Van der Vyver's worker, he was his son.T he story is told through the point of view of the farmer, at first it seems that all the farmer really cares about is the negative publicity he will receive. "Bad enough to have killed a man without helping the party's, the governments, the country's enemies as well". He also states that "They'll (Africans rebelling against apartheid rule) be able to...

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