I am acquainted with Gordimer’s last works, that is, post-apartheid (1994) novels such as ‘None to Accompany me’, ‘The pickup’, ‘Get a life’.
‘The House Gun’ (1998) is one of these, an excellent example of Gordimer’s intricate plot that allows her to use social and political issues seen through the perspective of unique individuals and the way their lives are affected by unexpected and apparent ‘alien’ conflicts. As always with Gordimer, in ‘The house gun’ she makes use of magnificent intertexts (Thomas Mann, Herman Broch, Shakespeare, and many others) letting us feel that she is dialoguing with a rich array of literary references.
In this ‘liberated’ South Africa a young and sexually conflicted white murderer needs the help of a black lawyer. We see this clash through his parents’ efforts to help him, and this echoes in their jobs, friendships and their own personal relationship. And the pertinent question: what would have happened if the gun hadn’t been there? The obvious answer: there wouldn’t have been any murder. This fable evokes reflection on the fact of the general rise of violence in the world. The gun bought like any commodity in many countries – in the United States, Great Britain, France, or Japan – serves domestic violence and promotes murder.