Playing at Home: An Ecocritical Reading of Nadine Gordimer’s The Pickup

Dana C Mount


In Nadine Gordimer’s The Pickup, Julie Summers finds her sense of place in an unnamed desert country. By following the man she falls in love with back to his homeland, Julie must leave her comfortable cosmopolitan life behind. Although the text superficially presents the reader with this simple love story, the tone of the narration itself undermines Julie’s quest and troubles her easy adoption of a new home. This article draws on South African ecocritical and postcolonial approaches to explore the ways in which Julie’s privilege informs her relationship with her environments. Namely, this article is interested in showing how the text subtly questions whether a return to the land is possible in a context (of legacies of apartheid and realities of globalization) when land is never neutral (if it ever was). By framing her text around questions of citizenship tied to place, Gordimer presents a critique of the restorative power of the pastoral through the slippery character of Julie Summers.


Postcolonialism; Ecocriticism; Environment; South Africa; Nadine Gordimer.

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The Johns Hopkins University Press

ISSN: 1920-1222

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