The Grass is Singing

The Veranda Symbol Analysis

The Veranda Symbol Icon

From the very beginning of the book it’s clear that the veranda is an important part of the Turners’ house, because it’s the place where Mary is murdered and where her body is left until Charlie, Sergeant Denham, and Tony move it inside. Verandas are porches attached to the main part of the house, and are thus liminal (in-between) spaces bridging the threshold of outside and inside. Indeed, outside and inside represent one of the key binaries around which the novel’s plot is structured (others include black/white, man/woman, and urban/rural). As a space that spans the threshold of inside and outside, the veranda symbolically undermines the seemingly rigid nature of these binaries. Moses’s act of murdering Mary on the veranda confirms the idea that the veranda is a place where strict binaries are disrupted. Whereas throughout most of the book, white characters maintain an absolute power over black people, in the final chapters this dynamic is reversed through Mary and Moses’s relationship—and the climax of this reversal comes in the form of Moses murdering Mary on the veranda.

It is also worth noting that verandas are a building feature closely associated with colonial architecture. The name “veranda” in fact derives from the Hindi word varanda, and verandas were commonly found in settler homes in places such as India, Australia, Brazil, and the colonial United States. Verandas were a way of blending the architectural style of the colonizers with that of the local culture, further evidence of the fact that verandas symbolically disrupt the binary between colonizer and colonized.

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The Veranda Symbol Timeline in The Grass is Singing

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Veranda appears in The Grass is Singing. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Authority Theme Icon
Brutality vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Femininity, Sexuality, and Maternity Theme Icon
...of his car. Inside the house, Tony explains how he found Mary’s body on the veranda. He says that the dogs were licking her, so he lifted her into the house... (full context)
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
Brutality vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Independence, Isolation, and Exile Theme Icon
...the murder took place. Dizzy from the brandy and heat, Tony walks out to the veranda, where he can still see pink smears of blood, and resolves to “get out of... (full context)
Chapter 4
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Authority Theme Icon
Brutality vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Independence, Isolation, and Exile Theme Icon
Femininity, Sexuality, and Maternity Theme Icon
Mary walks past Samson, who is cleaning the living room, and goes out onto the veranda. Mary then walks around the house, circling back to find Samson making the beds. As... (full context)
Chapter 5
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Authority Theme Icon
Brutality vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Independence, Isolation, and Exile Theme Icon
Femininity, Sexuality, and Maternity Theme Icon
At this moment, the servant comes out to the veranda and hands Dick and Mary his notice, explaining that he is needed in his kraal... (full context)
Chapter 6
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Authority Theme Icon
Independence, Isolation, and Exile Theme Icon
Femininity, Sexuality, and Maternity Theme Icon
...control her emotions. A few months after the pigs, Mary sees Dick standing on the veranda with the same look of boyish enthusiasm on his face. She tries to reassure herself... (full context)
Chapter 7
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Authority Theme Icon
Brutality vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Independence, Isolation, and Exile Theme Icon
Femininity, Sexuality, and Maternity Theme Icon
Mary stands on the veranda watching the doctor leave, her mind filled with enraged resentment. Mrs. Slatter drops off a... (full context)
Chapter 11
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Authority Theme Icon
Brutality vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Mary sits down on the veranda and closes her eyes; she opens them to find that she has slept through her... (full context)
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
Brutality vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Independence, Isolation, and Exile Theme Icon
Femininity, Sexuality, and Maternity Theme Icon
...on her skin is like being touched by animal fur. She goes out onto the veranda, where she finally feels safe. (full context)
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
Hierarchy and Authority Theme Icon
Brutality vs. Civilization Theme Icon
Independence, Isolation, and Exile Theme Icon
Femininity, Sexuality, and Maternity Theme Icon
...floor. It begins to rain, and the raindrops mix with Mary’s blood dripping across the veranda. Moses drops his weapon, before picking it up again. He considers proclaiming his innocence, but... (full context)