This study guide will help you analyze the short story “Comrades” by Nadine Gordimer. We will show you examples of the elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it.

Presentation of the text

Title: “Comrades” (1991)
Author: Nadine Gordimer
Genre: Short story

Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014) was a South African writer. In 1991, she received the Nobel Prize in Literature for the impact of her literary works on humanity. Most of Gordimer’s literary work deals with issues related to apartheid in South Africa.


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Racial segregation and its consequences

The social setting addresses the issue of racial segregation in South Africa during apartheid. Racial segregation means separating people according to the color of their skin. In South Africa, this meant that black people were forced to live in particular places and suffered economic hardships as they were only allowed to do certain jobs and did not receive a good education, for example.

In the story, white and black people are expected to live separately, mainly interacting when white people employ black people, such as in the case of Hattie and her maid. Furthermore, racial segregation leads to black communities suffering from poverty and lacking essential items, proper living conditions, economic advantages, or a good education. This is also illustrated through the boys who have not been in school for several years. In contrast, white people – Hattie included – can afford getting an education, travelling, and commodities that black South Africans find strange and overwhelming

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