The novel takes place in South Africa and is set in chronological order. My Son's story written by Nadine Gordimer is a novel that focuses on an African family that is intertwined in two worlds. The setting takes place in South Africa from 1970-1989. Will, the main character and narrator of the story, as a young high school student he looks up to his father, Sonny, as a perfect role model. Sonny, a lover of Shakespeare and a former teacher moves his wife and children. They once resided in a town where they were surrounded with those of the same ethnic background but when Sonny gets fired from his teaching career he moves his family to a city. His wife, Aila and his daughter Baby, resent the fact that they are put into a new world surrounded with white people. They were enraged with sonny because he was a political activist that fought for Africans issues yet he put himself into two different worlds.
Baby becomes rebellious and is greatly affected by her father's affair.
One day when he was suppose to be studying for exams he decided to go to the cinema to watch a movie, but then he say his father walk out of the theater with a white woman. Hannah, Sonny's mistress, bewildered him. As Sonny introduced Hannah to Will very casually he kept his distance, Sonny then changes the subject so there would be no room for suspicion. He tells Hannah "my son is going to be a writer". Though in the back of Will's mind he knew that he did not want to pursue that career his father chose for him. Will thinks Hannah is wrong, scandalous, and insolent.
Will now has to face trials with his family and he is unsure how to confront his mother and sister. He faced with a dilemma and has to choose between keeping the family together or allowing a white woman to separate their family. Will comes to the realization that his father wasn't the perfect role model after all. From that point on he isolates himself from all his surroundings. He even decides that he doesn't want to become the man his father wants him to be.
Through all of the tribulations Will did not want to become a writer though his experiences with his father, Sonny, it inspired him to wrote a novel based on his life. In the story Will stated: "what he did--my father--made me a writer. Do I have to thank him for that? Why couldn't I have been something else?" Point of View The narrator speaks from 1st person and at the end of the book switches to 3rd person. At the beginning of the book he uses first person, speaking from his point of view. This points out that at the time he was naÃÂ¯ve, inexperienced, and knew very little. He looked at all the situations he came across selfishly. He doesn't seem reliable because he's young and does not seems to know exactly what's going on. At the end when he speaks in 3rd person, he's more alert, knowledgeable and older. Will speaks as if he's a young man that understands all his surroundings. He doesn't solely looks at is from his point of view but knows it from all circumstances. Reliability of the narrator increases as he ages.
Theme Now these days' times are hard and life is not just love and riches. However in this novel, Sonny, believes that he is the center of everything. He thinks that he can get everything he wants whenever he wants it. Sonny character shows that he is selfish and strong willed. The theme of the book is that "you can't have everything all at once because at the end you wont have anything at all." Sonny was a respectable person amongst his people but he took it for granted. He lies continuously and looses it in an instant. He liked his social standing but wanted more. Sonny secretly cheats to gain power and to satisfy the fact that he thinks he can have whatever he wants. In the end, he destroys his family, is left without anyone, and feels depressed.
This is significant to me because sometimes I often think that I am the only person that lies on this earth. I will admit that sometimes, I take things for granted and don't think about later in the future. Thus, leaving me dumbstruck and a lot more grateful. I keep it as a lesson learned.
Quotes ÃÂ· "What he did - my father - made me a writer. Do I have to thank him for that? Why couldn't I have been something else? I am a writer and this is my first book - that I can never publish (Gordimer PG. 277)." This quote shows irony because earlier in the book, Sonny, says, "my son is going to be a writer". Thought Will doesn't want to become that because of his father's insolent decisions, Will still becomes a writer.
ÃÂ· "Of course she is blonde" The wet dreams I have, a schoolboy who's never slept with a woman, are blonde (Gordimer page 14)." Will speaks about Hannah; he shares his feeling about why he thinks his father is sleeping with a white woman. He also tries to convey that Hannah isn't like them "coloured people, like us" Instead she is an intruder that has trespassed on his property.
ÃÂ· "It's only since Baby cut her wrists that I've known my mother knew about him (Gordimer PG. 59)." Baby hid everything from everyone. She could no longer have an open relationship with anyone because she felt betrayal from her father. This is another quote that symbolizes that the family is broken and that Will doesn't even know what is going with his family.
ÃÂ· "Though my mother's dignity and beauty make our family an exception, although my father says exceptions change nothingÃ¢ÂÂ¦ (Gordimer pg. 145)." This shows that Aila cares deeply about her family and that her children are her center of life. Baby and Will see their mother as a figure of love, tenderness, and life. She helps them to cope throughout the novel until she gets arrested.
Discussion The narrator's style of writing made it a little difficult to understand. Gordimer uses a lot of imagery, irony, and foreshadowing. Her writing reminds me of dreams; you dream for a long time about something that has happened before or about something that you want to happen, but when you awake you put the pieces of your dream together to get the whole, big picture.