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Word Count: 1,148
Nadine Gordimers Once Upon a Time begins with the telling of two stories The first is about the author who awakes in the middle of the night afraid of a possible intruder Then to distract her mind she creates a second story The story is a fairytale of an affluent family living in the suburbs which have a baseless fear of the impoverished because of preconceived beliefs about racial tension In response they attempt to create the perfect home security- system The two stories relate through their theme of unfounded fear based on handed-down beliefs In addition the stories reflect the negative effect and consequences of the defenses that people create to protect themselves from their fear Fear is a natural human response and safeguard to threatening situations yet it does not need a real danger to reveal itself Often irrational thinking will lead to exaggerations and generalizations of the improbable which fosters anxiety For example the man and woman within the fairytale story are far removed and protected from any harmful occurrences at the onset of the story There were riots but these were outside the city where people of another color were quarteredthese people were not allowed into the suburbs 253 At this point the family has not yet encountered violence the wife is still terrified people might come up the street and tear off the plaque You Have Been Warned and open the gates and stream in253 Similarly personalizing and focusing only on the emotional aspects of events it creates irrational thinking For example the familys maid disturbed that a fellow housemaid was accosted by thieves and afraid that she would fall victim implored the employers to have burglar bars attached to the doors and windows of the house 254 The family maid personalizes the emotional fear that her friend experienced and reacts to that emotion In addition unwarranted fear stems from the refusal to become conscious of biased ideologies they
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