Sima Aghazadeh


This article presents and interprets Doris Lessing’s first novel, The Grass is Singing (1950), as both a personal and psychological portrayal of its female protagonist, Mary Turner, from her childhood to death, and as a political exposure of the futility and fragility of the patriarchal and colonial society. This novel is Mary’s failure of individuation in the confrontation of her psychological and cultural parts, shaped by colonial experience. Lessing, by depicting her protagonist in a particular British colonial setting, artistically reveals that her identity is negotiated and constructed by the social and behavioral expectations, developed through her racial role as a white woman colonizer and her gender role as a woman colonized in a patriarchal narrative of the same setting. In this article, I will discuss how the cross-hatched intersection of gender, class, and race through their relationship to each other operates in Mary’s failure of her female individuation. Mary’s attempt in achieving her own sense of self in this process of individuation fails and dooms her to death because of the same sexual and ideological factors, rooted in her family and culture.

Author Biography

Sima Aghazadeh is an Iranian Doctoral Research fellow in the department of English Literature in University of Malaya, Malaysia. Her PhD research is on feminist revision on Doris Lessing’s novels. She is interested in issues around feminist literary criticism and gender studies in women fiction and has published and presented some papers in this regard. She used to be a full-time lecturer in English Literature in Iran.