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July's People > Week 2

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 304 comments Week 2: chapters 7- 12


message 2: by Alexa (new)

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 435 comments I'm finding that I'm beginning to be able to deal with her thin line between thought and dialogue - I'm starting to be able to "go with the flow."

Fascinating how little (any?) conversation there is about race - yet the entire underlying subtext is about "how can this racial inequity be just?" For me. I can't help wondering if others see that subtext as clearly though. If one were to approach this novel from a completely different mindset, would it be as obvious? Perhaps so, it got itself banned, right?


message 3: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 304 comments For me, the subtext about race leaps out. So much about SA is about race, both what is said and unsaid. I always wonder if in other countries it plays as big a role.

Something that I keep thinking about, although I may be a bit behind with this, is how little July & his people have benefitted from the revolution. And how much this mirrors current rural South Africa within a very different context.


message 4: by Alexa (new)

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 435 comments At this point the revolution is just ongoing fighting, at least that's the impression I'm getting from their few radio broadcasts. Would anyone anywhere have benefited yet? The local shop-owner ran away when the soldiers came but then came back again - other than that everyone here seems oblivious. But then you also have to wonder how trustworthy of a news source July is. It does leave one wondering how connected July's village is....


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 315 comments I find that I'm am able to understand a little better than the first week of reading. I still feel that I may be missing some things though.

I guess in a society where inequity is based on race, possibly everything has some sort of racial undertone or this book would not have been considered "dangerous" and therefore, banned.


message 6: by Alexa (new)

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 435 comments Yes it does get easier to read, but possibly becomes even more uncomfortable of a read, if that makes sense!


message 7: by Anastasia Kinderman, The Only (new)

Anastasia Kinderman | 659 comments Mod
Alexa, I am really appreciating your comments on this book. They are insightful and thought-provoking.


message 8: by ☯Emily , The First (new)

☯Emily  Ginder | 1227 comments Mod
I can't really get into this book. I'll try one more time. Too many other books to read.


message 9: by Alexa (new)

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 435 comments At times I felt like I had to force myself, page by page. It definitely falls into the category of "this is good for me."


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 315 comments If this book were now so short and with short chapters, I would have CNF'd it.

The style in which Gordimer chose to write this makes me hostile.


message 11: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 304 comments I think Gordimer herself was projecting a hostility toward the reader, I feel it too. I find the emotionality of the book a bit overwhelming, especially within the current political climate.

Alexa, true, the village is disconnected. I think they are in what was then the Northern Province and is now Limpopo and Mpumalanga (they went North out of Jhb away from the last). There are still villages there, and in Kwazulu and Eastern Cape where it looks like the people have been forgotten by time, they are just so disconnected.
I'm wondering around attitudes and way of life, July is still so subservient to the Smales, even the bakkie has an explanation. I think it's his wife who comments that now there will be no more money, which is a significant effect on their lives.


message 12: by Alexa (new)

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 435 comments Yet doesn't that emotionality come from us? Really Gordimer's tone is mostly quite flat, a mere factual recounting and dialogue. Not much emotion at all. I think that's part of what makes it so difficult to read. We really miss the emotional reactions of the characters, we want to know their feelings, and without them we feel (as readers) somewhat lost and adrift. So we compensate by supplying our own emotions, and those are what overwhelm us (or at least me).


message 13: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 304 comments I'm wondering how she gets us to feel that though, with such stark prose, we all feel fairly similar, are emotional reactions are fairly mirrored. And we are reading the book many, many years later. It feels engineered to illicit this reaction.

Thus far we have only been given a look at Maureen's past, her fairly liberal (very liberal for back then) upbringing. Her relationship with the woman employed by her family stands out enough to make headlines. I keep thinking about all the white SA kids who spent their formative years loving and being taken care of black women, only to later on neglect the rights of these self-same women Karen Stockett called this to light too in her novel.


message 14: by Anastasia Kinderman, The Only (new)

Anastasia Kinderman | 659 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "I think Gordimer herself was projecting a hostility toward the reader, I feel it too. I find the emotionality of the book a bit overwhelming, especially within the current political climate."

Can you give us a snapshot of what the current political climate is in SA, Lisa? Like what are your impressions?


message 15: by Alexa (new)

Alexa (AlexaNC) | 435 comments I'm not sure the years matter, after all, there are still far too many examples of stark racial inequality, all over the world, and I think most of us feel guilty that we live in a world where this is true. This book manages to make it clear that being a "good" person, a person who tries to live with a personal sense of justice, is irrelevant given the structural injustice we profit from.


message 16: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) | 125 comments I think Gordimer is deliberately keeping the emotional tone flat since I suspect the Smales are so traumatised that they cannot afford to get overly emotional at this stage. At some level they know that if they get emotional about the situation, they may not be able to keep it together very much longer.

If they get emotional then recriminations will start flying. I gather Bam had an opportunity to move them to Canada and Maureen talked him out of it. In addition, they are already commenting on each other's failure to plan for a getaway of some kind.


message 17: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) | 125 comments The balance of power is starting to shift between July and the Smales. For the past 15 years, he would have been dependent on them in the city. His pass would expire if he lost his job and he would have to return to the village or face imprisonment. The Johannesburg prison where he would have been sent if he was caught was an awful place which treated black persons with a complete lack of dignity or humanity. It has been reconstructed and is now the site of the South African Constitutional Court http://www.constitutionalcourt.org.za...

The scene with the bakkie keys is indicative of the power shift. They are now dependent on July to fetch supplies and for protection. There is also the scene where Maureen wonders whether she can approach July's quarters in the village although she would have done so in town.


message 18: by Anastasia Kinderman, The Only (new)

Anastasia Kinderman | 659 comments Mod
Carolien wrote: "The balance of power is starting to shift between July and the Smales. For the past 15 years, he would have been dependent on them in the city. His pass would expire if he lost his job and he would..."

Thanks for the link, Carolien. Amazing.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 315 comments Caroline,

Thanks for the link.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 315 comments Oops, Carolien! :)


message 21: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 304 comments Anastasia, how much political detail are you looking for? Just current or more contextual? It's a big answer.


message 22: by Anastasia Kinderman, The Only (new)

Anastasia Kinderman | 659 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "Anastasia, how much political detail are you looking for? Just current or more contextual? It's a big answer."

I suppose current with some context, assuming it isn't too much trouble. I don't want to make you write an essay. ;)


message 23: by Anastasia Kinderman, The Only (new)

Anastasia Kinderman | 659 comments Mod
My favorite line from the book: "The black faces of his companions were alight with the relish of excitement coming, the thrill of chastisement promised for others." Kids are kids everywhere!


message 24: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 304 comments Absolutely!


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