"The Train from Rhodesia"
The Train from Rhodesia, a short story written by Nadine Gordimer, takes place during a brief stop in an impoverished African village. The story concerns a young married couple, in which the young woman is interested in a carved lion an old native has to sell but claims the price is too high. Her husband later bargains with this old native and obtains the lion for an unfairly low price, which causes his wife to feel isolated and confused towards this complex society regarding racism. At first the story did not seem to deal with racial problems, but with the use of symbolism and imagery Gordimer was able to illustrate the racial discrimination and the social divide between middle and upper class citizens and
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Gordimer adds to this illustration when she describes the stationmaster's children, "the children had just collected their mother's two loaves of bread" (Gordimer 51). This illustrates the hunger and malnutrition that the villagers and their children go through. Meanwhile, the train's passengers sit comfortably in their cabins with enough food to throw away. "A girl had collected a handful of the hard kind, that no one like, out of the chocolate box, and was throwing them to the dogs," portrays the rich and wealthy life the passengers inside the train possess (Gordimer 52). Another symbol of poverty is raise by the bargain between the old native selling a lion sculpture and a young white husband which wishes to buy this lion for his wife. The old man at first is asking for "three and six" in which later due to his severe necessities and after realizing that the young couple is not going to buy it for the prize being asked has to lower the prize to "one and six." (Gordimer 52, 53) This illustration recognizes the old man's poverty due to the fact that he had no choice but to accept whatever scraps of money they could give rather than nothing at all. Gordimer makes clear that the villager's lives are so impoverished while the train's passenger's life is the complete contrary, which adds to the understanding that the vendors at the station depend upon the passengers on the train for their living.
Nadine Gordimer also portrays racism in many ways