Physically speaking, white farms are described by the narrator as consisting largely of unused land, dotted with sparse cultivated patches. The farm is described as a "gaunt and violent landscape," dotted with thorn trees, msasa trees, rocky outcrops, and row upon row of mealie (corn) stalks.
From a sociological perspective, the farm is described as an environment in which black people were present only to be servants to the white farmers and their families. Natives (black Africans) were seen as objects to ridicule at will. They were seen as frightening enough that, when the narrator was old enough, she carried a gun on her walks.
The book describes a scene typical of Southern Africa's history, in which a white person was not free to befriend a black person, and society was governed by a deep racial divide.