The Moment Before the Gun Went Off | Analysis

This study guide will help you analyse the text “The Moment Before the Gun Went Off” by Nadine Gordimer. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, theme and message, and we will help you put the text into perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Moment Before the Gun Went Off”
Author: Nadine Gordimer
Date of Publication: 1992
Genre: Short Story

Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014) was a South-African writer who also received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991. Most of Gordimer's literature (novels and short stories) explores the theme of racial issues, especially during the apartheid regime in South Africa.


Here, you will find a short excerpt from our study guide:


From the title of the short story, "The Moment Before the Gun Went Off", readers can almost immediately assume that the text they are going to read will deal with a violent event caused by someone shooting someone else with a gun. However, note that the title reveals almost nothing about the real sequence of events that made Van der Vyver kill Lucas or about the fact that the shooting was an accident. Also, note that the title of the short story is actually part of a longer phrase used in the story: “The moment before the gun went off was a moment of high excitement shared through the roof of the cab, as the bullet was to pass, between the young black man outside and the white farmer inside the vehicle.”

The above fragment shows that Van der Vyver shooting Lucas was not intentional, but an accident caused by the rather quick drive over the pot-hole and the spotting of the buck.

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The Moment Before the Gun Went Off | Analysis

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