In Doris Lessing’s short story, A Sunrise on the Veld, she describes a boy’s intense feelings as he prepares for and goes out on an early morning hunt. To begin, her creative use of language recreates the feel of an early morning on the grasslands. Repetition is often frowned upon; however, in this story, Lessing constructively uses repetition to emphasize the coolness of the morning air. "It was cold, cold.” Furthermore, Lessing uses figurative language in order for the text to appeal more to the reader’s senses. For example, the simile, "springing out like a fish”, reminds the reader of the sting of chilly water. She also personifies the sun when she describes the wait for the sun to "paint the world afresh,” like an artist. In addition, Lessing contrasts some ideas in order to reinforce them. For instance, she contrasts the coolness of the morning air with the stuffiness of the sleeping parents’ room.
This story takes place in modern times and in South Africa, where a 15-year-old boy wakes up at 4:30 each morning to hunt in a veld. The story is rich in figurative language, especially in similes, metaphors, and personification. The use of symbolism is another important literary trait of the story that helps understand the thematic concerns of the author.
Use of similes
There are many other examples of similes, such as, when he is being compared to a fish leaping from the water because of his speed and control, "then he sprung out, like a fish leaping from the water.”
Another example of a simile is,
"like glistening black water flowing through the grass.”
In this excerpt, the ants heading towards the buck to eat its flesh were compared to glistening black water flowing through the grass.
"With the arms and legs and fingers waiting like soldiers for a word of command.”
His arms, legs, and fingers are being compared to soldiers because of the way they follow/ do whatever his mind tells them to do. Another example of a simile is "Walking like kings and conquerors.” The way the small creature walks is compared to how kings and conquerors walk. The next example of a simile is when air is compared to cold water.
"That was what he was: fifteen years of this rich soil, and this slow-moving water, and air that smelt like a challenge whether it was warm and sultry at noon, or as brisk as cold water like it was now.”
This excerpt from the book has two examples of similes. The first simile is the comparison of air to a challenge.
Use of Metaphor
"And diamond drops sparkled on each frond.” In this excerpt, the water is being presented as a diamond. The use of the words diamond drops not only enhances the beauty of the prose but also helps us visualize the scene on the veld.
The title "A Sunrise on the Veld” creates an allusion to a sun rising up on a grassy land (a Veld). The warmth in the boys’ bed and the cold morning are very much suggestive and symbolic. Here, warmth is a sign of life while the chill outside is an allusion to death. This change of weather from warmth to cold is displayed when he suddenly experiences the mortality behind the wounded buck, his innocence and self-absorption receive a sudden halt.
"Waiting for the sun to paint earth and grass afresh,” is an example of personification because the sun is said to be painting, which is a human action. This figurative aspect of language shows the sun getting ready to work as the boy gets ready to go hunting daily. Another example of personification is "Small, glittering eyes” This sentence is talking about the eyes of the buck when the boy had seen him for the first time. Yet another instance of personification is,
"Sleep seemed to him a servant to be commanded and refused”
This sentence is talking about the boy’s attitude towards sleep and his thinking that he is so powerful because of the fact that he can wake up so early without the help of anything and can go without sleep for several days.
The buck symbolizes living things and everybody’s final fate; death. "This is how life goes on, by living things dying in anguish.” The ants symbolize death. "Like glistening black water flowing through the grass.” The Ants compared with water can also be taken as a symbol for the continuity of life. In this way, Doris Lessing has used a single symbol with dual meanings that show her mastery over the use of creative language.
Grass represents life, and the black water represents death and how it takes over the living thing and that, eventually, every living thing will die, and nobody is eternal, except God.
The scene when Doris Lessing describes the dying buck is very powerful and shows her grip over the language. For example:
“In the deep morning hush that held his future and his past, was a sound of pain, and repeated over and over again; it was a kind of shortened scream, as if someone, something, had no breath to scream.”
This excerpt from the story shows exactly how much power he has, which is close to nothing. After facing the harsh reality of life, his perspective on life changes. This all occurs after witnessing the pain and death of a buck.
"So that broken bones jutted over each other uselessly”
This sentence describes the sight the boy comes upon when he sees the buck lying on the ground due to a broken leg and it is described as mentioned above. Thank You for watching! Hope you enjoyed it & found it informational! Life would also be a symbol because using the buck as an example the boy was able to understand that eventually, all things must come to an end whether we like it or not and it’s all just a part of a cycle that we can’t control nor change rather we have to accept this fact and move on.
The boy’s point of view about life changes, all due to death. In life, many things occur that are out of our reach/capability to save. Eventually, every living thing will die, and it’s part of the nature of living. Even if you have lost someone valuable in your life, you must not sit down and weep about it. Instead, you should move on and continue with your life because no amount of weeping would bring anybody back. If life was eternal, then it wouldn’t be valuable. If any living thing dies, just accept that you will die as well, but your time is still to come. In objection to the statement that the boy said, which was that there is nothing he can’t do, life teaches him a lesson that there are many things that you are incapable of changing, which is the fact that he can’t save the buck from dying.