Cry, the Beloved Country

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Essay Question #2
It has been said that the land is itself another character in Paton's novel, Cry, the Beloved Country. What role does the landscape play in the novel? What does the valley surrounding Ndotsheni represent?

"Keep it, guard it, care for it, for it keeps men, guards men, cares for men. Destroy it and man is destroyed" (Paton 33). In Cry, the Beloved Country, this bold statement reflects both the beauty of the land of South Africa and the peace and harmony of men. Both of their relations are solely dependent on the care that they receive and as of now, these relations are strained. Although Alan Paton never directly declares the importance of the land, the repetition of, "There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills" suggests its significance and contributions to the novel (Paton 33).

The landscape in Alan Paton's novel is the mirror image of South Africa's society, devastated, but with the potential of being unified and restored. The grass-covered beauty, "…one of the fairest valleys of Africa," is the true nature of South Africa, but when the land and the people are not able to coexist, when the equally born blacks and the whites are not able to respect each other, that beauty is disrupted, and they are not able to prosper to their full potential (Paton 161). Whether in the arid valley or the hectic city, people seem to confront the same problem: wanting improvement, but only a few are seizing opportunities to take action. The red, barren land, where the "…titihoya does not cry…," in which Stephen Kumalo lives is South Africa as it is now, overflowing with public concern for social change but deprived of actions that bring about change (Paton 34). Although Ndotsheni is desolate because of the "…too many fires have burned it. Stand shod upon it, for it is coarse and sharp,…," it still holds the possibility of being beautiful again like the valleys around it as does South Africa for the equality between the blacks and the whites...
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