The Grass Is Singing Themes


Lessing's political knowledge appears throughout The Grass Is Singing, but most clearly in how she develops characters who represent various roles of farming in third world countries during the early twentieth century. Although Charlie Slatter is the successful farmer who takes over the land by the end of the story, sympathy is not directed toward him. Dick Turner appears as the tragic character who gains readers' sympathy because not only does he want to own the land but also because he defines his own self-worth by it. Both of these men, as are all white farmers of that time in that location, however, are hampered by their oppressive use of natives for labor.

Even though Dick Turner treats the natives more humanely than most, the injustices are enhanced by his wife's treatment of the natives. Oblivious to the ways of the farm and working with natives, Mary Turner enters her marriage and discovers how much she dislikes farming and the presence of natives. That Dick overlooks his wife's treatment of the natives indicates both marriage concerns and perpetuating practices of injustice.

Lessing further delineates the hierarchy of social order in this farming community by identifying the other farmer's interest in the outcome of the Turner's growing poverty. When Charlie insists that Dick leave the farm, the narrator tells readers that Charlie:

was fighting to prevent another recruit to the growing army of poor...

(The entire section is 591 words.)