It wasn't so long ago that no black man would dare to show such a lack of deference towards any white woman, however unrespectable. Motsamai is perceived as racially and culturally whole, while those whose grandfathers were born in another country generate only 'mongrel cross-patterns'.
Motsamai, 'the stranger from the other side of the divided past', is described as being able to trace his ancestry 'through a language spoken, through oral legend, song and ceremony lived on the same natal earth', though in fact he has spent more time abroad, studying law at Gray's Inn, than the Lindgards. Some of this romanticisation comes from Harald and Claudia, but some is in the narrative voice, like a reference to the lawyer bringing 'from the Other Side his particular kind of mother-tongue prescience'. As for the other Other Side, the other side of sexual orientation, there are some rather awkward impositions of meaning.
There is no moralising about homosexuality as such, but the dead man's attitudes towards sex were casual to the point of nihilism.
To him sexual contact was as necessary and as trivial as a drink of water, and he refuses any context of emotional obligation. Quite how this squares with his choosing to have sex with Natalie, despite a misogynist aversion, not to mention him having a live-in intimacy with another man, isn't clear. Carl's lover David doesn't have so much as a walk-on role in the book.
The only gay character to have a part to play is Khulu, a friend of Duncan's, who supports his parents during their time of trial.
In his manly tenderness he embodies black gay pride and functionality, and indeed he wears in court the tryst rings and necklaces which are 'the insignia of the gay'. He has a positive value in the book but no actual sex life tryst rings but no trysts. It is with black rather than gay authenticity that Khulu judges the Lindgards' reluctance, late in the story, to consider taking in Natalie's baby, which may be Duncan's but may just as well be the dead man's: 'As if with his people this would need a second's thought!
In his culture, 'a mother would be wailing'. Harald and Claudia are people who might have disapproved of the way things were under the old dispensation, but didn't risk anything to oppose oppression: ' They thought of themselves as simply not that kind of person; as if it were a matter of immutable determination, such as one's blood group, and not failed courage.
It would be a doctrinaire reader of The House Gun who expected Gordimer to choose protagonists with whom she could identify politically, but it doesn't seem unreasonable to hope for some human sympathy in the absence of the political. Much of the novel seems to contrive a rather dry comeuppance for these people who imagined their lives untouchable in all the turmoil. The narrative voice comments with an excessive certainty of its own on the characters' unawareness: 'The tests of morality they've known each has known of the other are ludicrous.
The Lindgards are at different times sundered and brought together by their experiences, but Gordimer has chosen to set out their marital conversations differently on the page from all the other dialogue. Instead of a dash to indicate the beginning of speech, there is nothing at all. It is up to the reader to construe on page 77, for instance, that the sentence beginning 'There are women who say These pages are hard going, not because they are dense but because they are so wilfully confusing.
But then the whole book shows a stylistic ineptness, a tin ear, even a grammatical incompetence, startling in a veteran. Relative pronouns 'from to whom or what', 'before he takes up to what it must be applied', 'whatever it is to which' cause Gordimer particular problems. On every page there are passages that privilege impersonal expressions over personal ones, sentences which require efforts of decoding out of all proportion to their sophistication: 'The sorrow that it was the shameful degeneracy, sickness of this conspiracy of rejection that had revitalised the marriage brought a collapse into grief.
Gabby Giffords. Mike Thompson.grupoavigase.com/includes/114/1975-cena-en-la.php
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