Between Revenge and Reconciliation: A Cultural Reading of Alex La Guma’s The Stone Country and Nadine Gordimer’s July’s People


  • Leon Bashirahishize Ecole Normale Supérieure du Burundi (College of Education-E.N.S.)


apartheid, black, racial discrimination, reconciliation, revenge, South Africa(n), white


This paper examines how the South African writers of Apartheid—Alex La Guma and Nadine Gordimer—approach, in their novels The Stone Country and July’s People, the concern of racial evils brought by the discriminatory regime in South Africa. The study puts in confrontation two writers of different racial backgrounds and gender to explore how they capture the issue of racism that is corroding the South African society in its social, economical, cultural, ethnic, religious and racial ensemble. In fact, while La Guma is a coloured (black) male writer, his counterpart Gordimer is a white female writer. This racial attribute that distinguishes the two writers is particularly significant and plays a greater role in the analytical process to identify the common point they share and the point of divergence that renders them polar while approaching the same issue of racism. The discussion is guided by a Cultural approach of Foucault (1972) to understand the various instances found in the works that reflect cultural and social dynamics that pertain to the two warring communities (black and white) which populate South Africa. In the end, regardless of racial background, it is observed that both writers converge on the same idea that racism is a dehumanising and destructive evil that needs a quick action to stop and eradicate its aftermaths. However, the ways to achieve its eradication vary from one to another—La Guma basing on revenge and violence while Gordimer seeking for reconciliation to end racial discrimination.


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Gordimer, N. (1981). July’s People. Pretoria: Sigma Press Ltd

La Guma, A. (1967). The Stone Country. London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd

Brutus, D. (1991). Protest and Conflict in African Literature. London: Penguin Books Ltd

Foucault, M. (1972). The Archeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language. New York: Pantheon Books

Gordimer, N. (1978). The Late Bourgeois World. London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd

La Guma, A. (1962). A Walk in the Night. Ibadan: Mbari Publications

Tomson, M. B. (1989). Black Identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Zouiche, F. (2002). The Novels of Chinua Achebe. Revue des sciences humaines, 3(1), 208-216



How to Cite

Bashirahishize, L. (2020). Between Revenge and Reconciliation: A Cultural Reading of Alex La Guma’s The Stone Country and Nadine Gordimer’s July’s People. Hybrid Journal of Literary and Cultural Studies, 2(2), 1-10. Retrieved from