What It’s Like to Be a Black Girl by Patricia Smith Essay

Comparison of “What it’s like to be a black girl” and Country Lovers Many people don’t realize just how far back African American Literature dates back to, it really started back in the 18th century. These types of scripts have a tendency to concentrate on topics of racism, inner struggles, slavery, prejudice, and the quest of sovereignty as well as equality. The two well-known writers on this subject matter are Nadine Gordimer and Patricia Smith. During the course of this paper, actualities of the short story Country Lovers, by Nadine Gordimer and the poem, “What it’s Like to Be a Black Girl,” by Patricia Smith, will be associated and compared to each other in respects to form, style, and content.

When reading this short story and poem, the reader will come to realize that both of the main characters are the protagonist black females, only because they both have to deal with judgement from others because of who they are based on their race or the color of their skin.

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In the short story entitled “Country Lovers” which was written by Nadine Gordimer in 1975” (Clugston, 2010), is about a prohibited love amongst a young black girl named Thebedi and a young white boy named Paulus Eysendyck.

The two leading characters Paulus and Thebedi were raised up together since they were little children. The two of them frolicked together and consumed much of their juvenile days with one another. Time passed, they begin to mature, and they became detached from each other. As the two children became older, they realized that could not be seen in public together, for the reason of race and their family status in the community. During the course of this short story there are numerous dramaturgical effects. The first takes place when the narrator talks about Paulus going away to school “This usefully coincides with the age of twelve or thirteen; so that by the time early adolescence is reached, the black children are making along with the bodily changes common to all, an easy transition to adult forms of address, beginning to call their old playmates missus and baasie little master” (Clugston, 2010). Though, the connection formed among them as youngsters was still present, neither Paulus’ or Thebedi’s parents not once banned them from hanging out with one another, but there was constantly this silent awareness that they both recognized it to be immoral, since they constantly seemed to be disguise or fabricate the fact that they did spend a lot of time together.

A sample of this is when Paulus arrived home from school and gave Thebedi a gift. “She told her father the missus had given them to her as a reward for some works she had done-it was true she sometimes was called to help out in the farmhouse. She told the girls in the kraal that she had a sweetheart nobody knew about, tat away, away on another farm, and they giggled, and teased, and admired her. There was a boy in the kraal called Njabulo who said he wished he could have brought her a belt and ear–rings” (Clugston, 2010). As the story continues the reader will see the damage of the loss of purity and prohibited love, as expressed here when Paulus takes notice of Thebedi as she splash in the water “The schoolgirls he went swimming with at dams or pools on neighboring farms wore bikinis but the sight of their dazzling bellies and thighs in the sunlight had never made him feel what he felt now when the girl came up the bank and sat beside him, the drops of water beading off her dark legs the only points of light in the earth–smelling deep shade.

They were not afraid of one another, they had known one another always; he did with her what he had done that time in the storeroom at the wedding, and this time it was so lovely, so lovely, he was surprised . . . and she was surprised by it, too—he could see in her dark face that was part of the shade, with her big dark eyes, shiny as soft water, watching him attentively: as she had when they used to huddle over their teams of mud oxen, as she had when he told her about detention weekends at school.” (Clugston, 2010). The reader gets a taste of how bad discrimination can be just before the end of this short story, when Paulus Eysendyck comes home from the veterinary college for the holiday season. This is when he discovers Thebedi had a baby. When he discovers information about the baby, he goes to Thebedi’s shed to see for himself if the information was true he was hearing. When he gets to the shed he gets a glimpse of the baby first hand “He struggled for a moment with a grimace of tears, anger, and self–pity.

He said, “You haven’t been near the house with it?”’ (Clugston, 2010). By his antiphon after the discovery that the two of them produced a life for the period of their prohibited affair, demonstrates just how much he recognized, the fact that such thing would not be accepted within his society. As the story goes on Paulus comes back to the shed where Thebedi and the newborn lived; and it stated “She thought she heard small grunts from the hut, the kind of infant grunt that indicates a full stomach, a deep sleep. After a time, long or short she did not know, he came out and walked away with plodding stride (his father’s gait) out of sight, towards his father’s house” (Clugston, 2010). As the reader reads on the reader develops the understanding that Paulus murdered the newborn that day when he went back to Thebedi’s shed. “The baby was not fed during the night and although she kept telling Njabulo it was sleeping, he saw for himself in the morning that it was dead.

He comforted her with words and caresses. She did not cry but simply sat, staring at the door” (Clugston, 2010). After interpretating this part of the story conveys to me that Paulus was actually fearful that the public would find out about the relationship between the two and tries to cover it up as if nothing ever happened between the two of them. Which show’s you how difficult life must have been back then with the racial discriminations. At the very end of this story the police had dug up the baby and brought charges against Paulus for murder. Thebedi up on the stand said “She cried hysterically in the witness box, saying yes, yes (the gilt hoop ear–rings swung in her ears), she saw the accused pouring liquid into the baby’s mouth. She said he had threatened to shoot her if she told anyone” (Clugston, 2010). Over a year had gone by when Thebedi returned to the court house; but this time she told the court that “she said she had not seen what the white man did in the house” (Clugston, 2010). Because of her testimony “The verdict on the accused was “not guilty”(Clugston, 2010).

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