The Grass Is Singing is a notable literary work by Doris Lessing. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of The Grass Is Singing.
The novel Grass is Singing is the story of a failed marriage.
“The Grass is Singing” by Doris Lessing (1919-2013) is an evergreen novel. The failed marriage between Mary and Dick Turner is a central theme throughout the novel. The novel tells the story of a marriage that falls apart. It describes the complications of relationships and the reasons for the breakdown of relationships.
The introduction of the marriage: The novel begins by introducing the marriage between Mary Turner, a white woman, and Dick Turner, a farmer in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). At first, their marriage appears conventional, but underlying tensions and issues become apparent as the story progresses.
Communication breakdown: In this novel, we see the relationship between Mary and Dick suffers from a bitter breakdown in communication. They fail to express their feelings and desires, leading to misunderstandings, frustration, and emotional distance between them. So, the novelist writes,
They did not talk. They could not talk to each other any more.
Cultural and racial differences: Mary and Dick’s marriage is also influenced by cultural and racial differences. Mary, a city woman, struggles to adapt to the harsh farming life in rural Rhodesia. Her sense of isolation and alienation further contribute to the disintegration of their relationship.
Gender Inequality and Expectations: The novel explores gender discrimination and expectations prevailing in the society of the time. In this play, Mary is said to perform domestic duties and be a supportive wife. But it is expected that Dick will be the dominant and controlling male. This gender inequality accelerates the failure of their marriages.
Infidelity and resentment: Mary’s dissatisfaction with her marriage leads her to an affair with Moses, their black servant. This affair catalyzes the ultimate downfall of their relationship. Dick discovers the affair and becomes resentful and hostile towards Mary, further deepening their divide.
Escalating tensions and violence: As the marriage disintegrates, tensions rise, and violence enters the picture. Dick becomes increasingly abusive towards Mary, physically and emotionally, as he spirals into alcoholism. The atmosphere of disturbance and violence intensifies the sense of their failed marriage.
Financial Struggles: The couple faces financial difficulties due to Dick’s failing farming ventures. It adds strain to their relationship. Lessing remarks rightly,
The money was slipping away, and there was no way of earning any more.
Trapped and suffocated: Mary feels trapped in her marriage, suffocated by the lack of love, understanding, and fulfillment. The isolation of farm life exacerbates her despair, leading to a psychological breakdown. This breakdown ultimately leads to a tragic outcome. The novel opens with the revelation of Mary’s death, and the story explores the events that led to this devastating conclusion. The breakdown of their marriage and the inability to bridge their differences contribute to the tragic ending.
Reflection on failed marriage: Through the lens of Mary and Dick’s failed marriage, the novel presents a broader reflection on the complexities and challenges of human relationships, particularly in colonial society. Their initial love and affection for each other fade away, leaving emptiness and indifference behind. So, the writer frankly declares,
She no longer loved him. She had not loved him for a long time, but now she knew how very much she had stopped loving him.
In conclusion, “The Grass is Singing” portrays a marriage that breaks down due to various reasons such as emotional distance, racial tension, social pressure and personal struggles. It highlights the fragility of relationships and the impact of social norms on individual lives.