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She Shall Not Be Moved

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “She Shall Not Be Moved” (2005) by Shereen Pandit. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective. 

Shereen Pandit is a British writer, activist, and lawyer formerly from South Africa. She was exiled by the government of South Africa in 1987 because of her political activism and moved to London with her husband. Her short stories won several prizes, including the Booktrust London Award.

Excerpt 

Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 

Social setting

The social setting explores racism and stereotyping.

The racism of the two white women is what sets off the incident. They believe that black people “want everything their way” (l. 95) and this is why they are happy to deny them their rights. It is worth noting that, since the story takes place in modern times, this attitude is frowned upon, yet no one on the bus reacts to let the women know they are wrong. This is also expressed by the narrator’s reaction: “They can say what they like about anti-racist laws, but I’ve yet to see them stop people like these two sling their poison around.” (ll. 98-99). This suggests that anti-racism laws are only as good as the people who choose to follow them. They can exist in theory, but a lot of people can ignore them in a real-world setting and get away with it. The narrator also implies that, in spite of such laws, authority figures such as the police will always take the side of the white people: “He’d probably call the police for me, if I gave them lip. And guess whose side the police would be on!” (ll. 150-151). 

It is also interesting to note that the other people on the bus choose not to interfere in the incident: “I look at the other passengers in the second half of the bus, past the stairs. All white. No-one’s saying anything, no-one’s seeing anything, no-one’s hearing anything. Not their business.” (ll. 100-102). By their refusal to interfere, they are allowing an injustice to continue. Therefore, they are themselves complicit with the racist women. Since no one is challenging them, they feel vindicated enough to act as they wish, perhaps taking the people’s silence as their approval. 

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She Shall Not Be Moved

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