Once Upon a Time

Genre of a Bedtime Story: Narrative Technique in "Once Upon a Time" 12th Grade

Throughout Nadine Gordimer’s short stories published in 1989, titled Jump and Other Stories, the South African author constantly combats the status quo with her controversially poignant content. In one of the short stories, Once Upon a Time, the narrator tells herself a bedtime story about a nameless family in a wealthy neighborhood during apartheid that experiences tragedy through the manifestation of their own fears for protection against outside threats. Throughout the short story, Gordimer conforms to typical conventions of a fairy-tale through her writing’s simplicity and inclusion of certain stereotypical phrases. However, she also deviates from typical fairy-tale conventions by starting with a parallel frame story outside of the fairy-tale as well as a reverse order of formulaic events. Ultimately, these combined conventions enhance the reader’s perspective while experiencing the narrative as well as the story’s literary value exponentially.

First and foremost, Gordimer refrains from more heightened writing during the “bedtime story” in order to apply the simplistic writing that is usually seen in the typical fairy-tale genre. For instance, Gordimer begins her bedtime story with “in a house, in a suburb, in a city, there...

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