This contribution presents an analysis of the novel Stiefmoeder Aarde by the
Dutch author Theun de Vries. The values in this novel or its potential tendentiousness
are laid bare by way of several narratological techniques, centering
around the concepts of polysemy and genre, and by focussing on the
opening pages of the novel. The first paragraphs of Stiefmoeder Aarde are
shown to present the norms of the stereotypical farmer, characteristic of
regional novels, and of a capitalist perspective. However, a subtle ambiguity
brought about by narrative style makes it unsure whether the norms in this
passage are put forward by the farmer, Wychman, or by the narrating authority.
This narratorial vagueness combines with the genre in which the text is
rendered to leave the reader with the impression that the farmer's perspective
may be condoned or even promulgated by the narrator. This initial tolerance
for the capitalist farmer's perspective serves to set off in full force the socialist
point of view in the rest of the novel.