The ostriches symbolize humanity’s relationship with nature, which is often unpredictable but can, with patience, be harmonious. Early in the novel, Fiela acquires a new female ostrich named Pollie, which she hopes to breed with her current ostrich, a male named Kicker. Long Kloof, where Fiela and her family live, is a hot, dry climate where few things can grow. This makes the ostriches not just a source of local pride, but also a necessity for Fiela, who is only able to continue renting her farm and ultimately purchase the land due to her successful ostrich breeding.
Initially, Kicker and Pollie seem reluctant to mate. Fiela takes a calculated risk by bringing them together earlier than her husband Selling recommends. Ostriches are potentially dangerous animals, and they can hurt humans who don’t respect their space. Fiela’s willingness to be tough with the ostriches and to put faith in them ultimately pays off, and Kicker and Pollie give birth to many chicks. Even at the height of her business, however, Fiela refuses to the take shortcuts like other farmers, allowing her ostriches to mate in pairs for life (as they generally do in nature) instead of trying to pair two females to one male, as her greedier rivals generally do. Fiela’s patience with the ostriches and her respect for nature are the foundation of her success, and so the evolution of her farm illustrates the benefits of living harmoniously with nature.
Ostriches Quotes in Fiela’s Child
Only in retrospect did Fiela take account of the omens—she did not recognize them at first. […] Omens that should have warned her, but her mind was on the ostrich and she did not heed the warnings.
‘You’re making a mistake, Fiela, wait another week or two.’
‘No. I’ve kept them apart long enough, I had them out at pasture for weeks, I’ve put paraffin into their ears so that there wouldn’t be a single tick to worry them, I’ve let Kicker starve—I’m not waiting any longer.’
It was late when they got home. His mother took one look at the egg, took down the strap from behind the door and beat their backsides well for them.
The next day she baked a sugar-cake with the egg.
‘I’m going to Knysna,’ she announced.