The woman

Outer characterisation

In Nadine Gordimer’s short story “City Lovers”, the woman works as a cashier at a supermarket  and was previously employed as a machinist in a clothing factory. Her age is not specified, but she is described as being young.

She is identified as “coloured”, a term that was used “to distinguish people of mixed blood from those of pure African descent”  (although you should note that ‘coloured’ is now considered an offensive term). She identifies herself as “not black; her family was very light-skinned”.

She is “small and finely made”, and her “very small face was quite delicately hollowed”. Dr von Leinsdorf notes that she “did not show a typical big backside”, suggesting she is thin. Her skin is smooth, and she has “crêpey hair, but it was drawn back flat into a little knot”. She has a gap between her two front teeth. She wears a skimpy coat and a cheap wool hair net. When she ...

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