Nadine Gordimer’s short story “Some Are Born to Sweet Delight” is set in the 1980s, and the action of the story happens over the span of several months.
This time period can be seen by the fact that, at the beginning of the text, the owner of the house forbids Vera’s family from taking in Irish lodgers. This policy is most likely set because between the 1960s and 1990s there was a territorial and ethnic conflict in Northern Ireland known as “The Troubles”. Acts of violence were committed throughout the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Vera’s father mentions “bombs affixed under the cars of members of Parliament and financiers”. This incident could refer to the car bomb attack that happened in 1979 at the House of Commons and for which the Irish Nationalist Liberation Army claimed responsibility. It could also refer to a series of car bomb attacks committed by the Irish Republican Army in June and August 1988.
The explosion of Vera’s plane could also be an allusion to the terrorist attack on the Pan Am Flight 103 which happened in December 1988. The plane crashed above Scotland due to a bomb set by a Libyan terrorist group.
The story takes place in an unnamed place in the UK. This is suggested by cues such as “the old Empire”, referring to the former British Empire, “travel to the Continent, America – anywhere”, where the continent is Europe as opposed to UK, “a royal birthday”, referring to the British royal family, and “an English speaker”, s...