Introduction & Overview of Mrs. Plum

This Study Guide consists of approximately 43 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Mrs. Plum.
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Mrs. Plum Summary & Study Guide Description

Mrs. Plum Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Bibliography on Mrs. Plum by Ezekiel Mphahlele.

First published in Mphahlele's 1967 short story collection In Corner B, "Mrs. Plum" was written during the early 1960s while the author was living in Paris. The collection, which includes stories about life in Nigeria and South Africa, was published by the East African Publishing House in Nairobi, Kenya, though the author had taken a teaching position in Denver, Colorado, by that time. Such was the life of this homeless writer. Mphahlele's work had been banned in his own country of South Africa, and In Corner B was not available there until the banning order was lifted in 1979."Mrs. Plum," makes up four chapters, by far the longest story in the collection, and is sometimes considered a novella rather than a short story. It depicts the changing relationship between Karabo, a black South African cook from the village of Phokeng, and her employer Mrs. Plum, a white liberal living in the suburbs of Johannesburg during the years of apartheid. As Karabo observes Mrs. Plum's conduct over three years, she comes to realize that Mrs. Plum's attitude toward blacks is hypocritical, and that her belief in the equality of blacks and whites is shallow.

"Mrs. Plum" was heralded upon publication as an indictment of white liberal South Africans who claimed that they could bring about political change in the country by working within the system. This is a theme that the author had explored in other stories, including "The Living and the Dead" (1958) and "We'll Have Dinner at Eight" (1961). It is still considered one of Mphahlele's best and most important stories and has been included in several widely distributed anthologies of African and world fiction. Mphahlele himself included it in a later short story collection, Renewal Time, (1981) and called it "the best thing I ever pulled off."

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Mrs. Plum from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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