Chapter 4 Short stories Nadine Gordimer's short story The Ultimate Safari



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  • Chapter 4
  • Short stories
  • Nadine Gordimer's short story "The Ultimate Safari," follows the story of an unnamed narrator and her family as they leave their Mozambique village for a refugee camp across the border in South Africa. Gordimer attributed the inspiration for the story to a visit she made to a camp for Mozambique refugees. The so-called "bandits" alluded to by the story's main character and narrator are, presumably, members of Renamo, the Mozambique rebel group that tried for years, with the clandestine support of South Africa, to overthrow Mozambique's Marxist government. By the time the events of this story take place, liberation movements in countries across Africa had long since swept whites from power, with South Africa being the single exception. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, in an attempt to protect itself and its white power structure, the South African government supported the destabilization efforts of rebels in its black-controlled, neighboring countries by financing armed incursions and raids, such as the ones that the narrator describes in the story that addresses the effects South Africa's system of apartheid had on its people and its neighbors.
  • The story continues Gordimer's long-standing efforts to gauge the effects of apartheid by delving into the minds of characters of all races and genders; in this case, Gordimer takes on the persona and adopts the voice of a young black Mozambique girl to narrate the family's arduous trek through Kruger Park and to the refugee camp. Mozambique was going through a difficult period in it's history. Civil war was threatening the lives of many, and speaking out against the government could get you arrested or killed. Nadine Gordimer knew of these dangers and even helped to hide some of her friends from danger, putting herself at great risk. She knew that writing openly about the terrible things in going on in Mozambique could get her killed, and many of her books were banned. For this reason she chose to use a large amount of symbolism .
  • The girl's grandmother and grandfather are very different. The grandmother is strong and big, where as her husband is thin and frail. The grandmother becomes a point of strength for the children, and gives them the help they need to continue their journey. In a way she represents the strong will of all the refugees to survive and work toward peace. As the story progresses the family starts to move through the Kruger park. They must remain very quiet and cannot light any fires, if they are found they will be sent back home.
  • Eventually, the remaining family members, all of whom remain nameless throughout the story, are led by the grandmother to a refugee camp where they are given space in a tent in which to live. There the grandmother eventually ekes out a living carrying bricks while the girl attends school. At the story's conclusion, we learn for the first time some of the basic facts about the girl and her family when "some white people" come to the camp to film the camp and a reporter interviews the grandmother. For instance, we learn definitively that the girl and her family are black, that they are originally from Mozambique, and that the story has taken place over the course of nearly three years.
  • One of the biggest uses of symbolism in the story is how Gordimer speaks of lions. The lions are very dangerous, much like the feared rebel fighters, or bandits. Whenever the lions are around the group must go very far out of their way to avoid them. One night the lions invade the camp and many refugees are afraid for their lives. The leader of the group is forced to yell and flail about in order to scare the lions away and save the people.
  • There are also references to birds, these birds are much like the rebel soldiers as well. The birds are always circling overhead and feeding on dead animals, never leaving any extra meat. The rebel fighters in Mozambique would often come into towns and set them on fire. They would steal all the valuables and food, after this they would poison the well so no one would have clean drinking water.
  • When the people finally reach the refugee camp they find shelter under a giant tent. This tent is home to families from all over the surrounding areas who were looking for safety and proper health care. The girl in the story describes the tent as a new community, a new home.
  • There is a mixture of people, but everyone is living under one roof, in peace. The last, but most important use of symbolism comes near the end of the story. The grandmother has found a job in town and has used the money she made to buy the children school shoes and black polish. Everyday the children must polish their shoes under the watchful eye of their grandmother. They are the only children in the entire camp that have nice school shoes, and are very proud of that. To me these shoes and polish represent hope. A hope for the future that one day better things will come. That perhaps they can return home to Mozambique and find their mother again, without the threat of war and famine. This is a hope that many people of the world share, without hope their is nothing left for people to look forward to.
  • The modern short story is written in prose, not verse. It evolved as a brief literary genre, compact and also realistic. This story can be considered biographical as impacted by the author’s life and personal experiences.
  • English novelist, children's book writer, playwright and social critic, Alan Sillitoe was grouped among the "angry young men" of the 1950s, with John Osborne, John Braine, John Wain, Arnold Wesker, and Kingsley Amis. He introduced in the post-World War II British fiction realistically portrayed working-class heroes. The second son of an illiterate tannery laborer. His father, Christopher Sillitoe, became one of the long-term unemployed during the 1930s Depression. On different occasions he worked as a house painter.
  • Sillitoe used working-class speech in his depiction of characters. His realism was striking to 1950s readers . The various protagonists of Sillitoe's early fiction are generally restless young men from the slum world, who oppose the established order of things, but who are at the same time affected by consumerism and hedonism. Sillitoe r ejected artistic elitism and instead of satirizing cosy middle-class British life, he focused on rebellious individuals and poor people, who have vile lives. Some critics classify him as a ‘regional writer’ as focusing on the setting of English Midlands and Nottinghamshire dialect.
  • The story revolves around the miners’ strike of 1984-5. The dialect of the main character, Joshua and his family is very distinctive. He , during the strike, expresses his fury in obscene language . Still, the biblical register dominates his political opinion as uses terms from the Old Testament to describe the government.
  • Ana Menéndez (born 1970 in Los Angeles, CA) is an American writer and journalist. Menéndez was born to Cuban exile parents who fled to Los Angeles, California in 1964. Menéndez's parents expected to return to Cuba at any time and prepared their children for this eventuality
  • The group of Cuban and Dominican immigrants gathers regularly, mostly ignoring the tourists who come to gape at the colorful old men playing dominos—only Máximo feels victimized, as if the onlookers are trivializing his life and culture, treating him like an animal in a zoo. The mixed sentiments of pride and frustration that come with adjustment to American society are common threads in this moving collection by a Cuban-American, Pushcart Prize–winning author.
  • It is filled with profoundly moving portraits of men and women, in Havana and in the U. S., who have to come to grips with the realities of Castro's Cuba and the consequences of trying to maintain their traditions while living in a new world. The culture shock that her characters experience is nothing new to Menéndez --- her parents came to Los Angeles from Cuba in the early '60s. As with most stories about immigrant families, the dividing line drawn between the old world and the new causes endless suffering for the adventurous ones who tried to find a place to fit in in the world beyond their birth shores.
  • The story first appeared in 1990. Bill Clinton was the president then. It also refers to the Cuban Revolution when Maximo left Havana in the sixties. It has a circular structure and wavers between the past and the present. The dominant theme is of nostalgia and exile.
  • The other short stories in the collection are loosely linked, much the way people in a community are. Characters who work together at a restaurant in Miami’s Little Havana in one story play dominoes together in another, and in yet another story run into each other at a party for a friend who’s finally getting out of Cuba 30 years after the revolution. But what really ties these stories together is the profound sense of loss and isolation running through them. Menéndez beautifully and painfully evokes all that her characters have left behind in coming to the United States: friends, family, livelihoods; elegant homes and fine china; dreams of becoming singers and writers and baseball players.
  • Book 4
  • Place and leisure
  • The purpose of leisure.
  • The theme of place with relevance to leisure.
  • The history of the seaside holiday.
  • Leisure can be positively defined as an activity done for its own sake, not a means to an end. Thus, what is work for someone can be leisure for another.
  • Paul Lafargue was a French revolutionary Marxist socialist journalist, literary critic, political writer and activist; he was Karl Marx's son-in-law, having married his second daughter Laura. His best known work is The Right to Be Lazy. Born in Cuba to French and Creole parents, Lafargue spent most of his life in France, with periods in England and Spain. At the age of 69, he and 66-year-old Laura died together in a suicide pact.
  • The essay was written from his prison cell in 1883. The essay polemicizes heavily against then-contemporary liberal, conservative, Christian and even socialist ideas of work. Lafargue criticizes these ideas from a Marxist perspective as dogmatic and ultimately false by portraying the degeneration and enslavement of human existence when being subsumed under the primacy of the "right to work", and argues that laziness, combined with human creativity, is an important source of human progress.
  • He revolted against long working hours and capitalist exploitation. Leisure leaves room for freedom and intellectual development. Excessive work, thus, creates the’ noble savage’ and dehumanizes people who have the right to be lazy. He advocated the benefits of using technology to have more leisure.
  • Robert Nozick was an American philosopher who was most prominent in the 1970s and 1980s. He was a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974), a libertarian answer to John Rawls' A Theory of Justice (1971). His other work involved decision theory and epistemology. He believes that leisure should be used to make man happy like food, hobbies, etc.
  • The best way to spend leisure, thus, lies in pleasant experiences. He imagines people plugged into an ‘experience machine’ – a piece of virtual reality technology- to feel good. If reluctant, they do not enjoy the pleasure of the experience.
  • Aristotle related leisure to well-being. He endorsed the positive view of leisure as based on activities pursued for their own sake and of ethical importance, not a matter of taste or convenience. By contrast, both work and play are means to an end. The best people are those who function in rational activities.
  • The best way to use leisure is to study philosophy and science. Inquiry leads to intellectual reflection as an ultimate goal of human existence. In its turn, politics can be a form of rational activity to reach wise decisions for the public good.
  • He also introduced ‘the function argument’: human beings have the function of engaging in rational activities as distinguished from animals. Those who excel at them are the best.
  • He also believes that not everyone should or can make the best use of a plenty of leisure. Only those with good reason.
  • Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher as well as the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism. For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia—peace and freedom from fear—and aponia—the absence of pain—and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends.
  • Epicurus's teachings represented a departure from the other major Greek thinkers of his period. He was an atomist, believing that the fundamental constituents of the world were indivisible little bits of matter (atoms, Greek atomos, indivisible) flying through empty space (kenos). Everything that occurs is the result of the atoms colliding, rebounding, and becoming entangled with one another, with no purpose or plan behind their motions.
  • Epicurus explicitly warned against overindulgence because it often leads to pain. As an ethical guideline, Epicurus emphasized minimizing harm and maximizing happiness of oneself and others. He believed that leisure is the core of human existence. Politics only leads to trouble and pain. Pleasure can be found in trivial things. Human beings do not have a function, but can survive as better than each other.
  • The human being
  • For Aristotle, a living being whose main function is reason
  • For Epicurus, atoms motivated by pleasure.
  • Leisure
  • Should be used properly to get the utmost benefit.
  • Should be used in intellectual reflections.
  • A means to enjoy pleasure and avoid pain.
  • Religion and leisure are linked in space as people practice spiritual tourism to visit holy places or during pilgrimage, and also in time as many religious holy days are off.
  • In England, we have :
  • - world heritage site of Stonehenge and Avebury
  • - Glastonbury
  • - Milton Keynes
  • Stonehenge and Avebury, in Wiltshire, are among the most famous groups of megaliths in the world. The two sanctuaries consist of circles of menhirs arranged in a pattern whose astronomical significance is still being explored. These holy places and the nearby Neolithic sites are an incomparable testimony to prehistoric times.
  • It comprises two areas of chalkland in Southern Britain within which complexes of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and funerary monuments and associated sites were built. Each area contains a focal stone circle and henge and many other major monuments.
  • Stonehenge is one of the most impressive prehistoric megalithic monuments in the world on account of the sheer size of its megaliths, the sophistication of its concentric plan and architectural design, the shaping of the stones, uniquely using both Wiltshire Sarsen sandstone and Pembroke Bluestone, and the precision with which it was built. Stonehenge is the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the world. It is unrivalled in its design and unique engineering, featuring huge horizontal stone lintels capping the outer circle and the trilithons, locked together by carefully shaped joints.
  • At Avebury, the massive Henge, containing the largest prehistoric stone circle in the world, and Silbury Hill, the largest prehistoric mound in Europe, demonstrate the outstanding engineering skills which were used to create masterpieces of earthen and megalithic architecture.
  • Glastonbury is a small town in Somerset, England, situated at a dry point on the low lying Somerset Levels, 23 miles (37 km) south of Bristol. Evidence from timber trackways such as the Sweet Track show that the town has been inhabited since Neolithic times. Glastonbury Lake Village was an Iron Age village, close to the old course of the River Brue and Sharpham Park approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Glastonbury, that dates back to the Bronze Age. Centwine was the first Saxon patron of Glastonbury Abbey, which dominated the town for the next 700 years. One of the most important abbeys in England, it was the site of Edmund Ironside's coronation as King of England in 1016. Many of the oldest surviving buildings in the town, including the Tribunal, George Hotel and Pilgrims' Inn and the Somerset Rural Life Museum, which is based in an old tithe barn, are associated with the abbey. The Church of St John the Baptist dates from the 15th century.
  • The town became a center for commerce, which led to the construction of the market cross, Glastonbury Canal and the Glastonbury and Street railway station, the largest station on the original Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway. The Brue Valley Living Landscape is a conservation project managed by the Somerset Wildlife Trust and nearby is the Ham Wall National Nature Reserve.
  • Glastonbury has been described as a New Age community which attracts people with New Age and Neopagan beliefs, and is notable for myths and legends often related to Glastonbury Tor, concerning Joseph of Arimathea, the Holy Grail and King Arthur. In some Arthurian literature Glastonbury is identified with the legendary island of Avalon. Joseph is said to have arrived in Glastonbury and stuck his staff into the ground, when it flowered miraculously into the Glastonbury Thorn. The presence of a landscape zodiac around the town has been suggested but no evidence has been discovered. The Glastonbury Festival, held in the nearby village of Pilton, takes its name from the town.
  • Milton Keynes , sometimes abbreviated MK, is a large town in Buckinghamshire, England. It is the administrative centre of the Borough of Milton Keynes and was formally designated as a new town on 23 January 1967, with the design brief to become a 'city' in scale. It took its name from the existing village of Milton Keynes, a few miles east of the planned centre.
  • At the 2011 census the population of the Milton Keynes urban area, including the adjacent Newport Pagnell and Woburn Sands, was 229,941, and that of the wider borough, which has been a unitary authority independent of Buckinghamshire County Council since 1997, was 248,800, (compared with a population for the Borough equivalent area of around 53,000 for the same area in 1961) with almost all the approx 196,000 population increase since 2001 arising in the urban area.
  • Leisure was an essential activity in the Roman empire. A villa-in the country or by the sea- was an ideal location for the rich. It combines city sophistication with village simplicity. Its picture as a relaxing place of leisure is vivid in literature. The emperor –as the ‘father’ of the public-tried to provide entertainment, public, private, religious, etc. the villa was the preferred location of the elite.
  • A Roman villa was originally a Roman country house built for the upper class during the Roman republic and the Roman Empire. According to Pliny the Elder, there were two kinds of villas: the villa urbana, which was a country seat that could easily be reached from Rome (or another city) for a night or two, and the Villa rustica, the farm-house estate permanently occupied by the servants who had charge generally of the estate. The villa rustica centered on the villa itself, perhaps only seasonally occupied. Under the Empire there was a concentration of Imperial villas near the Bay of Naples. Wealthy Romans escaped the summer heat in the hills round Rome, especially around Frascati . Pliny the Younger had three or four, of which the example near Laurentium is the best known from his descriptions.
  • The Empire contained many kinds of villas, not all of them lavishly appointed with mosaic floors and frescoes. In the provinces, any country house with some decorative features in the Roman style may be called a "villa" by modern scholars. By the first century BC, the "classic" villa took many architectural forms, with many examples employing atrium or peristyle, for enclosed spaces open to light and air. Upper class, wealthy Roman citizens in the countryside around Rome and throughout the Empire lived in villa-complexes, the accommodation for rural farms. Large villas dominated the rural economy of the Po valley, Campania, and Sicily, and were also found in Gaul. Villas were centers of a variety of economic activity such as mining, pottery factories, or horse raising .
  • Horace celebrates his time in the country in his Sabine farm. In the Satire, he believes that his countryside farm provides healthy life, away from the city. He can enjoy philosophical exchanges with his friends. The Satires (Latin: Satirae or Sermones) that explore the secrets of human happiness and literary perfection and illustrate what he means by describing a typical day in his own simple, but contented life.
  • Statius was a Roman poet of the 1st century AD (Silver Age of Latin literature). His Silvae poems celebrate his aristocratic patrons life in their luxurious villas that were like a retreat from troubles of public life. Five poems are devoted to the emperor and his favorites, including a description of Domitian's equestrian statue in the Forum , praise for his construction of the Via Domitiana . Focus is on the wealthy, privileged class of landowners and politicians.
  • Pliny the Younger was a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome. Pliny wrote hundreds of letters, many of which still survive, that are regarded as a historical source for the time period. Some are addressed to reigning emperors or to notables such as the historian Tacitus. Pliny served as an imperial magistrate under Trajan (reigned 98–117). Pliny was considered an honest and moderate man, consistent in his pursuit . He rose through a series of Imperial civil and military offices.
  • He used to spend free time in his villas in Tuscany and near Ostia. Like Horace, he enjoyed retreat from public life there and productive intellectual leisure. He was proud of villas’ excellent location near the sea and its beautiful garden that relates him to nature.
  • His letter echoes Horace’s poem as an evidence of the value of leisure for the Romans and as a reflection of the social hierarchy at the time.
  • Furniture and decorations can also reflect the excessive care for villas as a site of leisure at the time. Many villas were built near the Bay of Naples to enjoy the beauty of nature there. Focus on garden ornaments was excessive.
  • The impressionistic style combine nature and architecture. Another style, ‘sacro-idyllic’- depicts shrines or landscapes in a natural setting. Manmade art was utilized to enhance the beauty of nature, represented by heritage of classical culture and mythology in portraits and statues adorning the villas. Shift to floor mosaics to decorate Romano-British villas coped with using space to mirror high culture. Blending nature and buildings is clear.
  • Thus, studying the Roman villa reveals the relation between leisure, time and place . The rich used to make use of leisure, enjoy nature and prefer staying near the sea to relax physically and mentally.
  • There are two pictures of life at the seaside in the mid 19th century:
  • William Powell Frith was an English painter specializing in genre subjects and panoramic narrative works of life in the Victorian era. His Life at the Seaside: Ramsgate Sand was successful and purchased by Queen Victoria.
  • He described it a ‘costume painting’ away from the past. It was based on modern life. It contains 70 separate figures , based on his visit to town in south-east of England in 1852. it simply represents urban, middle-class holiday near the sea-side in Ramsgate.
  • This was the first of Frith's paintings to depict the contemporary Victorian crowd rather than figures from history or literature. The artist included a self-portrait (peeping over the shoulder of the man on the far right), while the little girl paddling in the centre staring directly at the painter is thought to have been his daughter. There, the crowds were immense, for the beautiful weather and the bank holiday had drawn many people to take the same trip . girls were content to promenade along the sand, watching a Punch and Judy show and listened to the hurdy gurdy player.
  • Eugène Louis Boudin was one of the first French landscape painters to paint outdoors. Boudin was a marine painter, and expert in the rendering of all that goes upon the sea and along its shores. The painting 'Beach at Trouville' of the 1890s shows groups of holiday makers taking the air at the beach. The artist worked a great deal on the Normandy coast, especially at the fashionable resorts of Trouville and Deauville. Two other beach scenes with the same title are also in the Collection, plus a. Between 1862 and 1895 Boudin painted a few hundred such frieze-like paintings.
  • The two paintings include the wide ‘landscape’ format and multi-figure subject. They also represent urban , middle- class, modern life in a very realistic way.
  • Boudin’s painting is smaller in size , painted on a wooden panel as informal and domestic in setting . Still, it was executed with a larger brush , more in liquid form . It has an atmospheric impression of a general scene .
  • By contrast, Firth’s painting is bigger and more formal as designed for public exhibition. Its horizon level is high as figures are more close to the sea. Audience may feel the presence of a narrative voice.
  • 1840 was a crucial year in the history of the British seaside. Black pool emerged as a sea-resort for working class. The railway related it to the outside world . The industrial Revolution, coupled with the advent of technology, led to social and economic changes at the time. Padjamers or rural citizens started to run to the beach. Workers used to have one or two rail excursions to the beach.
  • Blackpool is a seaside town and borough of Lancashire, North West England. The town is a unitary authority area, noted for its political autonomy, independent of Lancashire County Council. By the mid-18th century , it became fashionable in England to travel to the coast during the summer to bathe in sea water to improve well-being. In 1781, visitors attracted to Blackpool's 7-mile (11 km) sandy beach were able to use a newly built private road. Blackpool rose to prominence as a major centre of tourism in England when a railway was built in the 1840s connecting it to the industrialised regions of Northern England. The railway made it much easier and cheaper for visitors to reach Blackpool, triggering an influx of settlers, such that in 1876 Blackpool was incorporated as a borough, governed by its own town council and aldermen. In 1881 Blackpool was a booming resort with a population of 14,000 and a promenade complete with piers, fortune-tellers, public houses, trams, donkey rides, fish-and-chip shops and theatres. Blackpool's urban fabric and economy remains relatively undiversified, and firmly rooted in the tourism sector, and the borough's seafront continues to attract millions of visitors every year
  • A pier is a raised structure, including bridge and building supports and walkways, typically supported by widely spread piles or pillars. The term tends to imply a current or former cargo-handling facility. The first ones were made of wood and soon over shadowed by more advanced means of transport, especially after opening the Tower . Electric lighting was used to attract visitors and the place finally became an industrialized resort.
  • During the second half of the twentieth century, the sea side holiday became the vogue in foreign shores. Excess of money, free time and openness to the outside world led British people to travel abroad during holidays. The internal combustion engine cause motorization of life . Gradually, private cars were afforded by the working class . In 1975, Black pool roads were linked up by the new motorway.
  • Benidorm on Spain’s Costa Blanca became the emblem of the new age of jet airline. It rose to prominence after the decline of deep-sea fishing. Its low coast and adoption of new technology made it very appealing for tourists. Prior to the 1960s, Benidorm was a small village. Today it stands out for its hotel industry, beaches and skyscrapers, built as a result of its tourist-oriented economy. Starting from 1990s, people headed for beaches of South Africa , the Caribbean and the like due to the packages relatively low-budget. The technological innovations also helped to facilitate life in such remote regions. Artificiality created an illusion of sea and sand, even if they hardly exist.
  • In the 18th century, the fashion for bathing in the sea to cure diseases like treating the skin by mineral springs was dominant. For upper class in particular, bathing was a form of therapy . It was all the year round, with the assistance of ‘dippers’. However, it might cause risks like inflammations without medical advice. Fresh air there was considered useful too. Accommodation facilities were constructed to cater for patients’ needs. Commercial activities boomed to enable them and their families to enjoy.
  • In the 19th century, seaside resort flourished. Bathing became appealing, even to average people, as a kind of popular medicine to cure chronic diseases, fatigue ,etc. Catching a breath of fresh air was advised by doctors, away from city pollution. It became a treatment for tuberculosis. Medical parks , piers and the like spread to improve public health.
  • In early 20th century, the vogue became more for outdoor exercise like hiking and camping. Gymnastic activities were favored by youth to build muscles. Swimming also became accessible to the middle-class. In 1920s and 1930s, seaside resorts built facilites for swimming and lidos; complexes of pools. Sunbathing became also in the limelight to treat bones and enjoy sun rays. It was thought to be the best means to promote general health. The suntan gradually became associated with glamor and vivacity. The sea air remained equivalent to pure, ozone-free air.
  • Thus, the desire for health led to the development of seaside resorts. It always over lapped with the pursuit of leisure.


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