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A Sunrise on the Veld Essay

“A Sunrise on the Veld” is a short story written by British author Doris Lessing. It tells the story of a boy who is filled with the excitement and wonder of life and the world around him. However, he soon discovers the darker side of reality, which is that living things must die. This story explores feelings of invincibility that many people have had in their youths. It also describes feelings of fear, anger and grief that most humans feel when they must face the reality of suffering and death. After witnessing the death of a small helpless buck, the boy comes to the realization that there are events and circumstances in life that he cannot control.

At the beginning of the story, the boy awakens early in the morning and feels like he has control over himself and his environment. He has trained himself to wake at half-past four without the use of his alarm clock. He was feeling invincible, full of life and completely in control. He took his gun and went outdoors, taking his dogs with him. He was aware of every sensation he felt; the cold ground beneath his feet, the dew covered grass, and the chilled steel of his gun. He was filled with a fascination of the world around him. “Then he began to run, not carefully, as he had before , but madly, like a wild thing. He was clean crazy, yelling mad with the joy of living and a superfluity of youth.” He thought he could “contain the world and make of it what I want.” He soon learned otherwise.

While in his state of exuberance, his celebration of life was interrupted by the small cries of a creature in pain. He saw a buck in the grass dying, and covered in black ants. He realized there was nothing he could do for the poor animal. He had no control over this. As he looked at the dying buck he said under his breath, “I can’t stop it. I can’t stop it. There is nothing I can do.” The ants were around him and he shouted defiantly at them saying, “Go away! I am not for you–not just yet at any rate. Go away.” “And he fancied that the ants turned and went away.” The boy still wanted to believe that he had control over things concerning his life.

After the buck’s skeleton had been stripped clean by the ants, the boy went over to examine it closely. He thought about how it looked when it was alive. Perhaps it was running and romping in the veld earlier that morning, just as he had. He thought of how it must have sniffed at the cold morning air and walking through the grass. The boy came face to face with death, and knew it happens to all living creatures. He also realized that even though he could control what he does to some extent, there were things in this world that no one can control. The knowledge of fatality, of what has to be, had gripped him and for the first time in his life.

Death is inevitable, every living thing or creature is destined to die one time during his life. The kind of beauty the boys valued differed in several ways as it’s is being unfolded in the story. The boy in “A Sunrise on the Veld” felt a love for nature without having a clear understanding of what nature is. In cooperation the two characters experienced an anxiety and enthusiasm towards their obsessions. He was very willing to wake up and go into the infinite fields of life. He felt a feeling of oneness when he came in touch with what nature displays to him. The author tries to showcase of the beauty in natural scenery as she tries to breakdown the restrictions found in isolation between what a mind of child and that of an adult.


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