The Relationships in Country Lovers and Desiree's Baby

The Relationships in Country Lovers and Desiree's Baby

  • Submitted By: CAR4786
  • Date Submitted: 03/08/2011 1:27 AM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 1380
  • Page: 6
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‘How are the relationships in ‘Country Lovers’ and ‘Desiree’s Baby’ influenced by the culture in which they are set?’

Culture means the behaviours and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group. ‘Country Lovers’ is written by Nadine Gordimer and is set in South Africa during the time of apartheid. This would have meant that black and white people didn’t mix at all. The main characters are Paulus, the powerful son of a white farmer and Thebedi, a black slave worker on the kraal. Their relationship cannot be successful because they are from totally different cultures and classes, let alone the fact that Paulus is white and Thebedi is black. In contrast, ‘Desiree’s Baby’ by Kate Chopin is set in Louisiana, America. This is a community with a lot of racial tension because the majorities of the black people in southern America are decedents of or were slaves themselves, and most of the white southern Americans believe that black people should remain slaves. The central characters in this story are Desiree, a woman who is abandoned at birth and is raised by the wealthy Valmonde family and Armand, a member of a very powerful family in Louisiana. Both stories share a number of features including the theme of secrecy, the motif of mixed- race babies and the way structure of the story is used to show how destructive culture can be.

It is the hierarchy in Country Lovers that means Thebedi and Paulus can never be equals. Hierarchy is all about who is in control and who has power. Hierarchy stops the relationship between Thebedi and Paulus from working because Paulus receives many privileges and Thebedi is in receipt of a lot of discrimination. Also it is frowned upon for people of different statuses to mix. This can be seen when the white children are sent away to school and the racist boundaries are established. The white children receive good education and care which in effect gives them better oportunities and a good head start for the...

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