Analysis of The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer

Title: The Conservationist

Author: Nadine Gordimer

Context: The Conservationist (1974) is a post colonial novel by Nadine Gordimer.  In terms of technique and design, this is a more complex novel as compared to the earlier novels of the South African writer Nadine Gordmier. The author has done a character study of a successful industrial executive in South Africa and a South African critique, by extension.

Synopsis: The story is about the wealthy Mehring having all possible possessions and privileges, South Africa can offer. However everything that he owns is unwilling to remain his objects. Be it his wife, his mistress and his son, all desert him. His workers and foreman also do not give him importance and ignore his stewardship.

The middle aged businessman, Mehring is a completely boring, rich and racist white man. He has it all, even if he is not very smart. He is white, has many mistresses and wealth. On a whim, just to enjoy extra hobbies during the weekend, he also purchases a 400 acre farm close to the city. He is unhappy and disgruntled despite having everything. His beliefs and actions make this violent man’s racism quite clear. He is of the belief that the black and white hierarchy is natural and inevitable.

In one occasion the body of a black body is found on his farm. After conducting an investigation thoroughly, the body was buried at the same place where it was found. Mehring is haunted by this idea. The intense floods bring up the body, after which Jacobus the farm caretaker gives the body a proper burial. In the drought, followed by flood, his farm is destroyed and the land too rises up. In the process of disentangling the personality of Mehring, her protagonist, she abandons her narrative style of being conventional.

Other works by the Author:


1953 – The Lying Days

1958 – A World of Strangers

1963 – Occasion for Loving

1966 – The Late Bourgeois World

1970 – A Guest of Honour

1979 – Burger’s Daughter

1981 – July’s People

1987 – A Sport of Nature

1990 – My Son’s Story

1994 – None to Accompany Me

1998 – The House Gun

2001 – The Pickup

2005 – Get a Life

2012 – No Time Like the Present