Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar Pistorius case & Gordimer's The House Gun

From Friday's BBC story "Oscar Pistorius granted bail in Reeva Steenkamp case:"
South African athlete Oscar Pistorius, who faces murder charges over the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, has been granted bail after a four-day hearing. The Paralympic champion denies murder, saying he shot Reeva Steenkamp thinking she was an intruder at his home.
I also found interesting the NPR article "In South Africa, Crime And Violence Are Permanent Headlines," which goes into some of the deeper themes involved in the case:
No place has been as riveted by Oscar Pistorius and the Valentine's Day shooting death of his girlfriend as South Africa. But even before this sensational story burst into the headlines, South Africans were fiercely debating issues that are more or less permanent fixtures in this country — crime, and violence against women. Crime has always been high in poorly policed black areas, and whites have felt it more in recent years as well. It seems most everyone has been victimized, and many more than once. Well-off South Africans live behind high walls, they pay private security firms to patrol their neighborhoods, they have state-of-the-art security systems, and some of them are armed. So when Pistorius said in court that he mistook his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp for an intruder breaking into his home, he was offering an explanation that struck a chord with many of his countrymen. Yet South Africa is also a place where violence against women is out of control, from rape on the streets to abuse between a man and his female partner.
I'm not a huge fan of Nadine Gordimer's writing, but her novel The House Gun seems to have at least a little in common with the Pistorius case, and certainly delves into the theme of violence in South Africa:
Privileged whites in post-apartheid South Africa, Harald and Claudia Lindgard have managed to live the better part of 50 years without ever confronting the deepest shadows in their culture... When their architect-son, Duncan, is arrested for murder, both know that the charge is preposterous. But Duncan himself fails to deny his guilt, and his parents are brought by a harsh and ungainly process to accept the possibility that he has committed an unthinkable crime. Nadine Gordimer's The House Gun is a gravely sustained exploration of their long-delayed but necessary descent into an intimate acquaintance with the culture of violence that surrounds them.

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