Commentaire the grass is singing

1673 mots 7 pages
Commentary of an extract from The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing By way of introduction, it should be first noted that the passage under study is an extract from The Grass is Singing, a book written by Doris Lessing in 1950. The novelist sets her story in southern Rhodesia, a British colony since 1923. European immigrants and natives had opposite and unequal social standings; the white settlers – who often also owned the land – took advantage of their ascendancy on the black natives to exploit them. Apartheid and segregation ruled the country until independence was finally snatched from the whites in the 80s. The author’s work was deeply influenced by her own experience since she was herself raised in southern Rhodesia when white colonial domination among black natives wasn’t questioned yet. This is how she became aware of the screaming inequalities that were eating away at the country, and tried to depict them throughout her novel.
In The Grass is Singing, she depicts Mary Turner, a white farmer’s wife, torn between the racist ideology she’s been accustomed to believe in, and what she actually discovers on her own by her daily contact with black people. The extract presents her first encounter with Moses, one of her husband’s employees in the fields, one day when she replaces him at work. Refusing to submit himself to Mary’s incoherent orders, Moses disturbs her “normal” environment. The scene then turns into a violent confrontation that symbolizes the clash of opposite cultures.
Our commentary will therefore fall into three parts. First, I will analyze the relationship between Mary and the natives – Moses in particular – keeping in mind it mirrors southern Rhodesian society at the time the story is set. Then, I will concentrate on Mary’s contradictory feelings, lost in unfamiliar surroundings. Finally, I will focus on the character of Moses as a symbol of hope for a change in black people’s lives, in other words, Doris Lessing’s spokesman.

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