Fiela’s Child


Dalene Matthee

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Fiela’s Child: Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Time passes. By April, Fiela begins to feel better when the census-takers don’t come back. Selling tries to reassure her the men are gone for good. The family names their new ostrich hen Pollie. Pollie is much harder to tame than Kicker, who is as tame as a chicken. Fiela and Selling take Pollie out of the enclosure to the pasture for the first time. Selling wonders if they should ask a neighbor for advice about how to make sure the government doesn’t take Benjamin away, but Fiela wants to take care of everything herself.
The story of Pollie and Kicker becomes a microcosm for many of the other events happening in the story. Here, for example, Pollie’s untamable attitude reflects Fiela’s own uncertainty about her future. Fiela’s determination to figure things out for herself reflects an independent attitude, which is also something that she tries to pass on to her children, including Benjamin.
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Toward the end of April, Fiela begins to forget about the census-takers and instead begins to worry about how The ostrich Kicker doesn’t seem interested in mating with Pollie. Selling tells her to just be patient—it might take as long as a year. Fiela is determined not to wait that long. She says she heard from a neighbor about something she can make the birds drink to encourage them to mate. All of a sudden, Benjamin comes running over calling for Fiela, and she worries for a second. But it turns out Benjamin just wants to tell her that Pollie has started dancing.
As parents, Fiela and Selling complement each other, with Selling representing a more cautious viewpoint and Fiela representing a bolder one. Fiela’s worries about Benjamin at the end of this chapter, which turn out to be unfounded for now, show how the census-takers (and by extension the government), can instill fear even when they aren’t physically present.
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