26 November 2012
Once Upon An Unimaginable Fairy Tale:
Irony in Nadine Gordimer’s “Once upon a time”
Once Upon a Social Issue Fairy tales have always been told to us as children; whether to comfort or entertain us, they always seem to be a part of everyone’s childhood. “Once Upon A Time”, the title is a characteristic of a fairy tale, but she leads the story to an ending that is anything other than “happily ever after” (Gordimer 12). Although Nadine Gordimer’s title is typical in a fairy tale in the story “One upon a time”, the story she writes is anything but typical. Instead of dealing with characteristics and synonymous with fairy tales, the author uses irony to reflect the idea of humans
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The story's second paragraph also portrays a perfect family taking all the normal precautions to keep them safe. "It was not possible to insure the house...against riot damage"(Gordimer 12) tells us that they were not able to protect themselves from everything and the repetition of “YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED” (Gordimer 12) tells readers that this story is in fact warning them that with each move they make they build their own prison and bring on their own destruction. As well as the sign "YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED" wasn’t just ironic but also has significance of foreshadowing by making an effort to continue to make their house safe, they brought it upon themselves that such misfortune should happen. There is also a mention of an intruder on the sign. By the end of the story, we realize this intruder does not have to be a person at all but could be an internal intruder in our lives. In the case of this family, the intruder is their inability to pay attention to the important things in life and just barricade themselves from others. Irony adds to this final effect in that everything the parents do to protect their home becomes useless. The gate speaker is used by the boy as a walkie-talkie. The alarm is set off but no one cares. The high wall is mocked by the cat jumping over it. The ultimate destruction of this is their own son’s death.
In the story, “happily ever after” (Gordimer 12) is constantly repeated which is ironic because they live in an