The central message of Country Lovers is to criticize apartheid by describing a love story between two normal teenagers. This message is brought out in the following three ways. Firstly, Gordimer depicts the lifestyles of black and white in an objective way. Readers can see the differences between the lives of black and white. Hence, reader would understand the unfairness of apartheid. They can know how harsh and sad the lifestyles of black. When the black are small, they have fewer possibilities than the white. Whites can go to town, go to cinema…But blacks are left behind. Their year is dropping behind the white.
From the schooling and opportunities the white and black received, the poor education that the black received is criticize by Gordimer. As black don’t get proper schooling, they always remain poor farmers. Moreover, Kraal, where black live and work is dirty. The huts’ floor is of mud and the workers are working in the sun and fly. Even though black are working house, white are the people who benefit as they are the owners and masters. White lives in farmhouse and black live in huts. White always have privilege under apartheid. Gordimer wants readers notice the inequality among black and white.
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Despite the skin colours, black and white are the same. However, their treatment is completely different. Their lives is different. The status of white is always higher than black. Gordimer is voicing out for the black who are being compressed. Secondly, the contrast between the characters’ childhood and adult experience is like a review on “before” and ” after” of adopting apartheid. When black and white are small, they don’t realize the differences of their skin colours. They are innocent and playing together before going to school. Black are not stupid at all.
For instance, Thebedi is a brilliant girl who teaches Paulus to make an artwork. When Thebedi and Paulus are small, they play together. When they are teenagers, Paulus, the white, becomes proud and playful. He shows off his experience to Thebedi. From this, we know that Thebedi is ignorant to the outside world. Beside the gap between their experiences about the outside world, their friendship is also going to be more secretive. Thebedi has to lie to his father and their meeting venue is more secretive then before too. Sometimes, they meet in dark to ensure no one would discover their relation.
They are attractive to one another but they are not suppose to have a relationship just because Thebedi is a black. They have to restrain their relationship. This fact suggests apartheid separates black and white. Also reflect how apartheid ruins human relation. Because of apartheid, Paulud murders his own son to cover the truth without considering her lovers, Thebedi’s feeling. A family is destroyed. Black and white drift apart and can’t be friend. Lastly, from the natural and unnatural setting suggest how apartheid destroy Thebedi and Paulus relationship.
Thebedi and Paulus grow up from childhood sweethearts to having sexual relationship. This is a natural process. The places the two lovers meet are natural landscape, for example down the river bad and in the mesh of old, ant-eaten trees. The setting reveals Paulus and Thebedi should become lovers, and then finally get married. This is a logical development which contrasts with the unsettling setting of the locked storeroom where Paulus make love with a girl. This empty experience is compared to the sexual experience between Thebedi and Paulus.
From these two different setting, again, we can see how these two natural lovers are being separated and forbidden to love one another. In addition, the setting of kraal contrasts with the midtown and farmhouse where white live in. White have tidy, large and beautiful house but black live in dirty and poor environment. This suggest one more the difference of black and white lives under apartheid. As a conclusion, Gordimer criticizes apartheid is unfair and may separate people. Country Lovers is a reflection of the bad consequence that apartheid may lead to.