The short story Once upon a Time is written by Nadine Gordimer in 1989. The title of the story will at first glance mislead the readers, as they might assume the short story will have a happy ever after ending, like in most fairy-tales.
The story tells us about a family who lives in a suburb, and they fear the dangers that comes with other ethnic appearances.
Gordimer’s short story has an out of the ordinary reversal fairytale genre. The story begins ‘’ In a house, in a suburb, in a city, there were a man and his wife who loved each other very much and were living happily ever after. They had a little boy, and they loved him very much.
They had a cat and a dog that the little boy loved very much.’’ In effect, this beginning line simplistically describes the setting with assistance from the childish diction and parallel syntax which Gordimer uses to create a fairytale-like setting.
In the short story, the family is portrayed as a very fearing family, as they think that danger is lurking outside the walls of their own house. We get an impression that the family is living in the more wealthy, white and privileged part of the suburb.
Even though the family lives in fear, Gordimer implies that the family isn’t evidently or deliberately racists. This is pointed out as the family has a plaque hanging on the gates of their home, which features a race-neutral person. ‘’it could not be said If he was black or white, and therefore proved the property owner was no racist’’. Instead, the family is fearing the alleged criminal component that dwells in the area.