The woman

Outer characterisation

In Nadine Gordimer’s short story “City Lovers”, the woman works as a cashier at a supermarket (p. 40, l. 42) and was previously employed as a machinist in a clothing factory (p. 44, ll. 44-45). Her age is not specified, but she is described as being young (p. 40, l. 43).

She is identified as “coloured”, a term that was used “to distinguish people of mixed blood from those of pure African descent” (p. 40, ll. 34-36) (although you should note that ‘coloured’ is now considered an offensive term). She identifies herself as “not black; her family was very light-skinned” (p. 42, ll. 2-3).

She is “small and finely made” (p. 41, l. 11), and her “very small face was quite delicately hollowed” (p. 41, ll. 16-17). Dr von Leinsdorf notes that she “did not show a typical big backside” (p. 41, l. 13), suggesting she is thin. Her skin is smooth, and she has “crêpey hair, but it was drawn back flat into a little knot” (p. 41, ll. 17-20). She has a gap between her two front teeth (p. 42, ll. 16-18). She wears a skimp...

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