The House Gun by Nadine Gordimer

By Williams, Megan | Herizons, Spring 2001 | Go to article overview

The House Gun by Nadine Gordimer


Williams, Megan, Herizons


THE HOUSE GUN BY NADINE GORDIMER

Nadine Gordimer's latest novel, The House Gun, tells the story of Claudia and Harald, two middle-aged white, liberal South Africans and their struggle to come to grips with the murder their 27-year-old son has committed. Gordimer uses the courtroom drama that ensues as a way of bringing to light the disquieting truths and contradictions of race and gender relations in the country. The couple, for instance, discovers that their son Duncan, who shot dead his roommate with the ubiquitous "house gun" after finding him in bed with his female lover, lives in a reality completely foreign to them: the house Duncan shares with his friends includes blacks and whites, straights and gays. Indeed, Duncan himself, they learn, is bi-sexual. The suave defence lawyer, moreover, who takes on their sons case is black and a former anti-Apartheid activist. This both comforts them (surely, they reassure themselves, this will help in a post-Apartheid court) and leaves them feeling like antiquated remnants of a world of all-white privilege no longer extant.

Gordimer exhaustingly depicts the uncomfortable process Harald and Claudia undergo as they follow the court case of their son. Nonetheless, in reading The House Gun, I couldn't help but feel that Gordimer, as a writer, has somehow not come to terms with this very different South Africa herself. …

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