A City of Dead, A City of the Living: Summary
Writer: Nadine Gordimer
Born: November 20, 1923
Nationality: South African
Samson Moreke lives in a community in a house number 1907 with his wife Nanike. They have a baby with them and Nanike is pregnant. Elder son is reading in a school and is left in a hostel. The community they are living has two rows of house on both sides of the street. The street leads towards the shebeen-keeper. The houses are made economically. They consist of two rooms and a kitchen. People from the village in search of job, come to live over there until they don’t find work. They adjust themselves in the small place inside and outside the house. This has become a tradition. Kitchen floor, sofas, etc. are used as bed when guests come to the house, In Moreke’s house, though he doesn’t have a car to keep, there is a garage. The garage is being occupied by other people. There is a small park at the back of the house where he keeps a dog, some chickens and has grown some grapevine. His relatives use to visit him. He is interested in reading newspapers- and talking to people. His friends especially women are polite to his wife. His wife is at her thirty, feels herself beautiful even if she has lost her front tooth. One night, Moreke comes with a friend of Mtemby, the cousin of Nanike. Moreke reveals that he is going to stay with them for some more days. Wife is reluctant. At last he is allowed to sleep on sofa. He has nothing with him but uses everything from Moreke. They introduce him as a cousin of Nanike to others.
But the man never comes out of home to look for a job. He is one among who attacked at police station. A ‘couple at garage’ might have noticed him. So Nanike cheats them by saying that he has just been discharged from the hospital.
The man tempts Moreke politically against Urban Council and asks to support the committee that fight against the injustice. He Calls the political leaders as “dummies” who promise but provide nothing to the people. The man remains at home unnoticed. When Moreke is out, he helps Nanike in the kitchen. One day he brings a gun at home. Nanike provides oil to clean the gun. At night, Moreke and the man talk about the politics. The man narrates a story of South Africa where people provide their citizen with all sorts of facilities. But here in their community, nothing is provided to the people. The man asks Moreke to support the community and deny the rent to the-council. Next day, Moreke writes a letter to his son at school. The man advises him to bring his son to the house and live together.
They plan to hide themselves at home. Man asks Moreke to play a chess game but he doesn’t know. So they play chess like game Moreke used to play with his coworkers. Nanike, on Sunday, wants to go out to buy a beer. The man allows her to go. She meets her neighbor at street and other people, too. She reports about the man who blasted the police station and is living in her house since one week. She also reports that the man carries a gun with him. The police arrest the man at last. But she cannot realize why she did it.