The Train From Rhodesia Essay

1163 words - 5 pages

"The Train from Rhodesia"

The Train from Rhodesia, a short story written by Nadine Gordimer, takes place during a brief stop in an impoverished African village. The story concerns a young married couple, in which the young woman is interested in a carved lion an old native has to sell but claims the price is too high. Her husband later bargains with this old native and obtains the lion for an unfairly low price, which causes his wife to feel isolated and confused towards this complex society regarding racism. At first the story did not seem to deal with racial problems, but with the use of symbolism and imagery Gordimer was able to illustrate the racial discrimination and the social divide between middle and upper class citizens and the poor African natives in South Africa.

In the short story, The Train from Rhodesia, the title is very important in symbolizing and taking part in converting the theme of this short story. The train being the main symbol in this story takes place both in the beginning and end of the story. The title is refereeing how a train form Rhodesia, a place where the white class is in control, show that the wealthy and superiority are in the train. This leads us to realize from the beginning of the story that there is going to be a social barrier between the rich and poor, or better yet between the whites and the blacks. The title is very important and has important meanings when dealing to portray the issue of racial discrimination, which the natives constantly received from the whites, in many different aspects.

At the beginning of the story Gordimer emphasizes the social divide between the rich and poor. Nadine Gordimer symbolizes poverty in many ways throughout this story. Having the children barefooted and with nothing to sell begging for pennies depicts how impoverished the village they live in is. Gordimer adds to this illustration when she describes the stationmaster's children, "the children had just collected their mother's two loaves of bread" (Gordimer 51). This illustrates the hunger and malnutrition that the villagers and their children go through. Meanwhile, the train's passengers sit comfortably in their cabins with enough food to throw away. "A girl had collected a handful of the hard kind, that no one like, out of the chocolate box, and was throwing them to the dogs," portrays the rich and wealthy life the passengers inside the train possess (Gordimer 52). Another symbol of poverty is raise by the bargain between the old native selling a lion sculpture and a young white husband which wishes to buy this lion for his wife. The old man at first is asking for "three and six" in which later due to his severe necessities and after realizing that the young couple is not going to buy it for the prize being asked has to lower the prize to "one and six." (Gordimer 52, 53) This illustration recognizes the old man's poverty due to the fact that he had no choice but to accept whatever scraps of money...

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