The main characters in “Country Lovers” by Nadine Gordimer are Paulus Eysendyck, a white boy, and Thebedi, a black girl. The narrative follows their relationship from childhood to young adulthood, focusing on the conflict that emerges between them and on its consequences. 

The secret relationship between Paulus and Thebedi is used to illustrate the prejudices of the apartheid system in South Africa. Paulus and Thebedi hide their affair, and they are not in an equal relationship. The two characters are used to show that relationships between black and white people were hard to maintain and even impossible in a system such as that of apartheid. Thus, a love story between individuals is contrasted with the strict norms of society.

You can read a full characterization of Paulus and Thebedi in the following pages.