What Is a Summary of “Six Feet of the Country” by Nadine Gordimer?

”Six Feet of the Country” is a short story set on a farm near Johannesburg. After a black man is found dead on their property, the white couple that owns the farm finds that their attempts to help their employees bury the body are at odds with the bureaucratic apartheid system.

Lerice and her husband are awoken one night by one of their farm workers, who informs them that a stranger, who is close to death, has been found on their property. The couple quickly discover that the stranger is the brother of Petrus, one of their farm boys, and has travelled illegally from Rhodesia.

After the stranger dies, Lerice and her husband explain to Petrus that the body of his brother must be taken away for a post-mortem, so that the health authorities can determine the cause of death. In order for Petrus to give his brother a traditional funeral, he must pay the government 20 pounds to return the body. At the funeral it is discovered that the authorities have returned the wrong body.

Believing that a white man would be better able to solve the problem, Petrus and the other black farm workers look to Lerice and her husband to help them retrieve the correct body. Lerice’s husband struggles with government bureaucracy but is unable to confirm the whereabouts of the body or get a refund on the 20 pounds paid by Petrus.