Oral History by Nadine Gordimer

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Nadine Gordimer is a writer that has lived through numerous world-changing events. She has lived through World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Korean War. She even made it through the American Civil Right's Acts, as well as an uncountable amount of natural disasters. However, she did not base her writing style or preference on any of these notable events. Gordimer summed up her writing style by stating in the introduction of one of her many stories "a writer is selected by his subject – his subject being the consciousness of his own era" (Anthology 2919). This direct quote from Gordimer says everything that we need to know about her writing style.

Gordimer was born on November 20, 1923, in a small village, Springs, located just miles away from Johannesburg, South Africa. Gordimer was born into a family of white minorities in this gold-mining country. Her father was of Jewish decent; her mother was of English decent. Being a white minority in South Africa had little implications on her when she was young. However, she would soon realize that people spanning all portions of the globe would hear her point of view.

Gordimer's education was minor when you think of it in today's terms. Being a Christian, she attended a small Anglican school in Springs. After being educated throughout her adolescence, she moved on to Witwatersand University, located in Johannesburg, South Africa. She only attended this university for one year, never earning a college degree. Regardless of her education, she devoted her life to writing collections that dealt with the racial tension that plagued her home country. Her first set of short stories was completed in 1949, at the mature age of 26. Throughout her career, she has written a myriad of essays, short stories, and novels.

A short story that focused solely on the racial tension in South Africa was Oral History. The entire short story is laced with images of the oppression that her country is faced with on a daily basis. Although the story focuses on one village, one chief, and one moral, it is evident that she is portraying the entire country of South Africa. Her focus, while telling this story, is to provide horrific images of how racial segregation has divided her country into two parts, white and black. Oral History is a microscopic depiction of what type of oppression has been endured within her home country.

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