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Jessica Garcia

on 29 May 2014

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Marxist Theory
The Life of Nadine Gordimer
Nadine Gordimer was born on November 20, 1923 in the small town of Springs, South Africa to Eastern European immigrants, Isidore and Nan Gordimer. As a child Nadine's mother withdrew her from school after a brief illness. From then on Gordimer found interest in a world of adventure and ideas in reading. Growing up during the revolution against apartheid "The brutal reality of the system was fully impressed on young Nadine" (
Academy of Achievement
A Marxist Analysis of "Once upon a time"
A Marxist reading of "Once Upon a Time" shows how Nadine Gordimer portrays, through symbolism and irony, how far the bourgeoisie will go to maintain the hegemony (status quo) and oppression of the lower class.
History behind the story
The story was published in 1989 and was written by Nadine Gordimer who grew up in South Africa during a time when segregation was being protested. The "riots" that she talks about in the story are the riots between black and white Africans. Which led the rich white community to be oppressive towards the poor black community.
Marxist Theory
As we read through the story we see the higher class's oppression of the lower class. When the "wise old witch" tells the husband and wife "[Don't] take anyone off the street" she is clearly referring to the black people who lost their jobs.

Overall the story is propaganda against the status quo of the time. Showing us that people are worrying too much about money and protecting wealth and power structure, instead of what really matters which is the safety of your family.
Works Cited
Edward. "Reflecting upon Nadine Gordimer's 'Once
upon a time''"
Edwords Thoughts on Literature
. 14 May 2013. Web. 13 May 2014
Hines, Emily. "A liteerary Analysis of Nadine Gordimer's 'Once upon a time'".
Geocities.ws, Lead System Network
. ND. Web. 13 May 2014
Gordimer, Nadine. "Once upon a time."
Elements of Literature Sixth Course. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
2007. print. 13 May 2014
"Nadine Gordimer."
Academy of Achievement. Museum of Living History
. 2 December 2009. Web. 13 May 2014
wise old witch- represents a gateway to all the misfortune of the family
wall- represents wealth, the bigger the wall the wealthier you are
"Happily ever after"- ironic because the family never truly lives happily ever after
"protection of the wall"- ironic because the wall ends up killing the little boy instead of protecting him and his family
Once Upon a Time
By Nadine Gordimer

Connection to story
The little boy reflects Gordimer based on the "few friends, no literary life, and world of adventure [they both] found in reading" (Academy of Achievement). During Gordimer's childhood many workers were African Americans, this helps us understand why
the community kicks out many of their workers.
Throughout the story roles are defined by the income of the families. For example the size and effectiveness of the walls in the neighborhood show a symbol of wealth for the white.
Status Quo/Hegemony:
The reason that this story fits into the Marxist Theory is because we see all throughout the story how far the higher class will go to maintain their hegemony through oppression.
Marxist Theory
Symbolism & irony
Full transcript