Themes and message

Ethnic and religious conflict and discrimination

The main theme of the short story “Some Are Born to Sweet Delight” written by Nadine Gordimer is ethnic and religious conflict.

The story is built around the ethnic and religious tensions that overtook the UK during the 1980s due to the conflict in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles. The conflict revolved around the decision of whether or not Northern Ireland should separate from the UK. Acts of violence like car bomb attacks, civil disobedience, and armed conflicts were a common occurrence during this time, and they were mainly conducted by Irish Catholics and directed against Protestant British authorities. Mistrust towards Irish people grew in the UK and ultimately led to discrimination and segregation. This event is reflected in the text by the “ ‘No Irish’ ” rule of the house where Vera lives.

As a Muslim man from an Arab country, Rad is also a victim of discrimination in the UK. He has limited job opportunities, and he is probably turned down by other housing offers. Vera’s parents also display a xenophobic attitude, worrying that the fact that their daughter is in a relationship with a foreigner will reflect badly on her job and on the family’s image.

The story also touches upon the unstable socio-political situation in Rad’s country, which used to be a part of...

The text shown above is just an extract. Only members can read the full content.

Get access to the full Study Guide.

As a member of, you get access to all of the content.

Sign up now

Already a member? Log in