Physical setting

The story “The Moment Before the Gun Went Off” by Nadine Gordimer is set in South Africa. Most of the action takes place on Van der Vyver’s farm, except for a scene at the police station. The rural setting is important. The countryside seems to allow occasional moments of connections between white and black South Africans, as most of the area is remote, and the people are not seen by others. 

 The security fence that surrounds Van der Vyver's farm suggests the separation and exclusion of black South Africans.

We can work out the time setting from hints in the story pointing to the legislation which was in force at the time. For instance: “blacks can sit and drink in white hotels now, the Immorality Act is gone, blacks can sleep with whites”. In South Africa, a law forbidding blacks and whites to mix in places like restaurants was dropped in 1990. And the ban on interracial sex was lifted in 1985. This suggests that the story takes place in the early 199os, close to the end of apartheid

Social setting

The social setting ex...

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