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"Once Upon a Time"
Transcript of "Once Upon a Time"
1. Does the story have a theme? What is it?
Is it implicit or explicit?
Theme is defined in the book as "its controlling idea or its central insight. It is the unifying generalization about life stated or implied by the story" (Johnson 191).
Element of Fiction: Theme
"...then the wall should be higher. And the wise old witch, the husband's mother, paid for the extra bricks as her Christmas present to her son and his wife--the little boy got a Space Man outfit and a book of fairy tales" (Gordimer 234).
This quote shows the juxtaposition between
the world that this family lives in and how the
parents desire their son to view it. They provide
him with toys and fairy tales to enhance his
creativity while in the mean time they are literally
building walls between him and the world.
By: Nadine Gordimer
Setting: During Apartheid is South Africa
Fathers Mother: AKA the wise old witch
The author doesn't use characterization with the intent to emphasize the characters as a stereotypical suburban family and to parallel the whimsical fairytale style of writing.
"In a house, in a suburb, in a city, there were a man and his wife who loved each other very much and were living happily ever after" (Gordimer 232).
Originally told orally, dates back to ancient Grecian times
Often told in rhymes or rhythmic verse
early 14th century Europe started writing down these stories, most notably Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
In the US one of the first and most famous short stories was Charles Brockden Brown’s "Somnambulism" from 1805.
History of the Short Story
"Once Upon a Time"
In the beginning of the short story, the author uses expected phrases from many of the well known children books that we all grew up hearing. This type of
unique point of view is
demonstrated throughout the
story in hopes of startling the
reader the further they read.
The implicitly stated them of “Once Upon a Time” is apartheid, the former policy of separation and discrimination against the blacks in South Africa. Though the author does not implicitly state the suburb or races apart of the short story, South Africa is common on her other stories. Another implicitly stated theme of “Once Upon a Time” is human fear jeopardizes happiness, which is apparent in their desire to stay safe even if their precautions could harm them as well as their happiness.
1. Does the story have a theme? What is it? Is it implicit or explicit?
The implicitly stated them of “Once Upon a Time” is apartheid, the former policy of separation and discrimination against the blacks in South Africa. Though the author does not implicitly state the suburb or races apart of the short story, South Africa is common on her other
stories. Another implicitly stated theme of “Once
Upon a Time” is human fear jeopardizes happiness,
which is apparent in their desire to stay safe even if
their precautions could harm them as well as their
About the Author
Nadine Gordimer was a South African writer who was passionate about apartheid and created a short story that earned her a Nobel Prize in 1991. She died on Sunday in Johannesburg at age 90. She won 1974's Booker Prize for The Conservationist and was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1991. The Nelson Mandela Foundation paid tribute to Gordimer, saying they were "deeply saddened at the loss of South Africa's grand dame of literature".
'Once Upon a Time' is a symbolic short story about the end of White dominance and the beginning of South African society.
In this story, the author is asked to write a children's story. She refuses, saying that she should not have to write something she doesn’t want too.she is awaken to a sound in the middle of the night, and she tells herself a bedtime story about a family who lives in the suburbs in order to fall back asleep. This family lives in a town where everyone thrives and desperately wants security. They go to extreme measures to secure their home from the dangers that come from Apartheid.the security measures included everything from an alarm system to electronic gates. In the end it was the thing they were sure was going to protect them that did the opposite,while pretending to be sleeping beauty’s prince, the son becomes tangled in the security coils and tragically dies.
Criticism facing this short story circle around the behind the scenes historical background that is this stories setting. Written about South African apartheid, the narrator focuses on the white, suburban families instead of the oppressed “coloured” people. This raises concerns, because the focus of danger and peril is placed on the oppressors, not the oppressed. The dangers of the entrapped and wealthy family are the entirety of the plot, and this misses the real focal point of apartheid, being the native South Africans struggle for equality and civil rights, making them out to be “riots” and dangerous in nature.
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By: Lauren LaDuke, Emma Vaughan,
Anne Marris Russell, & Mckenna Cook