Soft Voice of the Serpent, a short story by Nadine Gordimer tells of the most bizarre relationship which a man, who has lost his leg, has with a wounded locust. When the man who is still trying to accept his own injury, notices that the locust has also been handicapped by the loss of a limb, he feels an instant connection towards the locust. Now that the man has found something else which has to deal with the same thing he does his outlook on his situation is brighter. At this point the man’s confidence and esteem for himself is soaring, the locust has empowered him as a new person. But then the locust, when scared by the woman flies away.

The locust flying off crushes the man’s already dilapidated sense of self worth. Throughout the story the author conveys the message that mans feelings of capability and adequacy are often shattered by the same things which build us up. Early on the man ignores his injury; he tries to keep busy by reading and just trying not to think about it. “He never let the realization get to him; he let himself realize it physically, but he never quite let it get to him”(Gordimer 396). Though he tries to forget his loss he is constantly reminded of it. “his attention was arrested sometimes, quite suddenly and compellingly by the sunken place under the rug where his leg used to be”( 396). The encounter of the man and locust spawns an instant relationship.

The common handicap that both the man and locust share, allows the man to have bond with something that has gone through the same pain and frustration that he has. “Of course he knew that feeling! The absolute certainty that the leg was there: one had only to lift it”(400). Now that the man had found someone with whom he could relate, his feelings of helplessness were diminished. He for once had found some joy in his handicap. When the woman approaches the locust she bumps it with a stick startling it and causing it to fly off. Right back where he started, alone, the man has lost the only thing, which to him could make sense of his injury. “Don’t be a fool, ‘he said irritably.

They had forgotten that locust can fly”(401). The author shows that it is human nature to find something that we can relate too, and at the same time a fault which we indulge in to make ourselves feel needed and worthy. This irrational thinking tends to result in the let down of the individual who places so much trust in something.

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30 Comments on "Soft Voice of the Serpent: Analysis & Summary"

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Could you please email me the theme, plot and summary as well as the essay of this short story.


very helpfully may u plz send the summary and the questions:soft voice of the serpent



Bruzel khumalo

Excellent summary


can you please post me a short stories book
po box 01
I would really appreciate it

nonhle dlamini

This story is very confusing.Can i kindly get a detailed summary. Also a explanation of characters. THANK YOU


Very helpful, thank you. Could you please email me the analysis and questions.
Thank you

T. Lee

Dear Sir/Mam, can i please get the summary the Soft Voice story!

Lungelo L.

Helped me a lot!


Its just perfect I love it

alex goodmen ndlovu

dear: admin
can you please email me the summary of the story and themes coz i find it intresting plus im doing grade 12

S. Thabede

I’m currently doing grade 12 and I find this story a bit confusing… Can you please send for me the summary I need to study for my upcoming test.


very good…this will help in a great way although the story is very confusing


I want to knw the message and meaning behind that short story


Your explanation is very clear, can you please email me questions that can be asked based on the soft voice?

Mzandile Mangena

Dear sir/madam
I am asking for a summary or study guide of this story.


I was wondering if I could get character analysis on the story


can you please send my the summary,i’m writing matric in June 2015 and need it. Please.

John maluleke

Can u send me the summary of this story please


Hey 🙂 Please help me! We are writing exam on this story; I need some questions and answers on the story please…