Themes and message


Nadine Gordimer’s short story “City Lovers” takes place in the social context of the apartheid system in South Africa, a system based on racial segregation. Racism is a major theme of the story.

Racism is seen through the segregation methods that separate white people from non-white people. On one hand, white people live in luxurious and developed areas: “In the entrance of the building called Atlantis there was a pool with real ferns, not plastic, and even a little waterfall pumping over rocks” (p. 41, ll. 47-51). On the other hand, black and mixed-race Africans are housed at the periphery of the city, in “black townships” (p. 41, ll. 45-46). As a mixed-race  woman, Dr von Leinsdorf’s lover also lives in a “township reserved for people her tint” (p. 41, ll. 46-47). Unlike the houses of white people, the house she lives in does not have a telephone (p. 42, ll. 29-31), and her family is not well-off (p. 46, ll. 13-14).

It is interesting to note that racist views against black Africans are shared by both white people and mixed-race p...

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