This study guide will help you analyze the short story “Amnesty” by Nadine Gordimer. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Presentation of the text

Title: “Amnesty” (1991)

Author: Nadine Gordimer

Genre: Short story

Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014) was a South African writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991. Gordimer’s novels and stories usually deal with racial issues, especially during the context of apartheid in South Africa. The short story “Amnesty” was published in 1991 in The New Yorker and was later included in the collection Jump and Other Stories


Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 


The story’s message is that people cannot expect change unless they are willing to work for it. This idea is illustrated by the narrator’s fiancé, who ends up imprisoned because of his fight for the rights of black people in South Africa. The story also highlights the importance of determination, as the narrator’s fiancé continues his fight against apartheid even after he is released from prison. 

Another message might be that ignorance helps people maintain the illusion of freedom. Before learning about her fiancé’s fight for a free South Africa, the narrator has led a simple yet peaceful life in the village, unaware of the concept of freedom or the fights led in the cities. Toward the...

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