The Grass Is Singing

Setting: South Africa, Rhodesia

Time: about 40 years ago

Plot: At the beginning of this story we get to know about Mary Turner's murder in Rhodesia. She had always had severe problems with her parents but as soon as her sister and brother died, the relationship got better. Mary moved to a girls-house, where she had the nicest time in her life. But one day she heard two girls talking about her. They wondered why she hadn't married yet and said it would be time for Mary to marry. After some time Mary went to the cinema where she first met Dick. She was not interested in him as a man, but she felt the need to marry. So, two weeks later they married and moved to Dick's farmhouse. It was small and bare. Mary despised such a poor and primitive lifestyle but she did not dare to tell Dick.

At that time they employed Samson as black servant. But since Mary wasn't used to servants she didn't know how to treat them correctly and was far too strict and brutal. Finally she dismissed him. Dick on the other hand couldn't understand her decision at all. They did not argue neither. Mary more and more realized that she did not have any emotions for her husband and wanted to return to the city, but since Dick wished to stay at the farm and have children she changed her attitude. Mary thought about having a daughter to have company and stop spending whole days out on the fields, but after a discussion nothing changed.

Suddenly Dick got pretty ill and Mary had to substitute him in the fields as supervisor of the workers. Like the servants in the house she treated the natives extremely bad and regarded them as inferior.

Some time later when Dick was not at home, Mary took the chance and went to town because she really wanted to resume living like she had before the marriage. But soon Dick showed up and she had to come with him.

One day Dick took a worker with him. His name was Moses and Mary instantly felt attracted to him but she knew she couldn't show that because he was a native. Moses was tall, strong and charismatic. Mary enjoyed his presence but she also treated him badly sometimes.

Soon afterwards Dick got ill again. Together with Moses Mary looked after him. Charly Slatter, a neighbour, came over and told Dick that he wanted to buy his farm. He proposed Dick and Mary to go on holiday too. After the holidays they could just resume work on the farm. Finally, Charly engaged Tony to look after the farm in the meantime. Tony was an Englishman and as soon as he got to know about Mary's situation he felt sorry for her.

He once watched as Moses undressed Mary. This was an extraordinary event and Tony from now on treated Moses in a different, more negative way.

Finally Moses was dismissed, but as Mary did that she felt that he would take revenge. Shortly before her death she sensed that she would die, but she did not hate this thought.


Dick: He can be easily described as a mentally weak and unskilled good-for-nothing. Dick seems to have two left hands. He is not at all determined and seems not to be able to finish things he begins successfully. Dick regards his dignity as his most valuable good. His relationship to Mary is strange. Although he is treated badly he tries to make the best out of the situation and works hard for a better living. Dick is keen to make her happy, but doesn't see the wide gap between them. But since he has always dreamed of raising a real familyand doesn't want to be alone, he is not giving up. Dick is not too self-assured and may be influenced by other persons easily. He instantly feels guilty whenever Mary complains about something.

There is one thing he cannot understand at all: Mary's inability to handle natives. He himself doesn't have any problems with native people and regards them as his comrades. Most likely because they help him doing his work, which he loves truely. Dick also starts behaving like a native.

Mary: She has had an unpleasant childhood, the result is that she hates her father. Mary is both intelligent and unbalanced. She is not used to talking to native people and therefore doesn't regard them as human beings. She hasn't had a boyfriend for a long time. Additionally she isn't very interested in men generally and never wanted to marry.

Actually she has turned from a cheerful, easy-going girl to a desperate person who is keen to be like society wants her to be since she married. Mary hates the farm and she also hates Dick in a way. She never regarded him as a man and doesn't have any emotions for him, even when they make love. She blames him for her hopeless and miserable situation. She somehow takes revenge when she treats him rudely and unfair and tries to make herself superior. The life at the farm makes her feel numb and seems monotonous. Her biggest desire is to go back to town, but soon she finds out that that is impossible. That makes her change her attitude towards the thought of having children to keep her in company.

Mary's relationship to Moses seems to be ambivalent: On one hand she despises the exposed flashiness and the fact that he is a native, but on the other hand she feels attracted to him, his strength and his sex-appeal. But since she knows she is not supposed to have such emotions she tries to suppress her feelings.

Finally, she senses her close death and loses her will to live.

Moses: Moses is an exceptionally strong-willed and proud native. Apart from that he is somewhat better educated and far more self-assured than other servants. He seems to be friendly and caring. Moses has the desire to be treated like a person with equal rights and not like an animal. He even does things voluntarily to please his masters, but also expects them to treat him better afterwards. Since Mary does not, he does what he regards as a proper reaction.

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