The story starts with a family who lived in a suburb and they all lived a very happy life. They had a sign "YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED" with a masked person, so it would show that they aren't racist. In the fairy tale, it says, "...YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED over the silhouette of a would-be intruder. He was masked; it could not be said if he was black or white, and therefore proved the property owner was no racist"(Gordimer, pg13). The author wrote this quote to show the readers that the family was afraid that the black people would think that they were racists and attack them. So, they got a sign of a masked person so no one would know the person was black or white.
The wife was afraid of protesters and rioters breaking off their sign. So, her husband set up a receiver for people to state their intention. The author wrote, "Anyone who pulled off the sign YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED and tried to open the gates would have to announce his intentions by pressing a button and speaking into a receiver relayed to the house"(Gordimer, pg14). Gordimer indicates that the family's fear of people breaking into their home caused them to spend money to protect the sign.
The neighborhood was a mess since alarms went off, houses were broken into and electronics were stolen. In the text, it says, "The alarms called to one another across the gardens in shrills and bleats and wails that everyone soon became accustomed to, so that the din roused the inhabitants of the suburb no more than the croak of frogs and musical grating of cicadas’ legs"(Gordimer, pg14). Gordimer implies that everyone in the neighborhood was afraid of break-ins that they all had alarms to protect themselves.
The wife and husband wanted their walls to be higher since they were afraid that someone would climb over the walls. In the text it says," You are right, said the wife, then the wall should be higher. And the wise old witch, the husband’s mother, paid for the extra bricks.."(Gordimer, pg14). This portrays to the readers that the family wanted to make the walls higher so no one can climb over the walls easily.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
The husband and wife went out to look for new walls to buy and they bought a barbed wired fence. In the story, it says, "The wife shuddered to look at it. You’re right, said the husband, anyone would think twice. . . . And they took heed of the advice on a small board fixed to the wall: Consult DRAGON’S TEETH The People For Total Security"(Gordimer, pg16). The quote presents to the readers that the wife and husbands were so anxious that they a barbed wired fence. No one would climb it since they would get hurt.
In the end, the little boy climbed over the barbed wires when he was role-playing and he got caught in the barbed wires and he started bleeding.Gordimer writes, "Prince who braves the terrible thicket of thorns to enter the palace and kiss the Sleeping Beauty back to life: he dragged a ladder to the wall, the shining coiled tunnel was just wide enough for his little body to creep in, and with the first fixing of its razor teeth in his knees and hands and head he screamed and struggled deeper into its tangle"(pg16).The protection the family putted up ended up having a huge consequence because there son was hurt by the barbed wire fences. Since the family was so afraid of people breaking that they ignored their son who ended up in danger at the end. The theme of the story is that being consumed by fear can end up hurting you.