Cry the Beloved Country
Alan Paton
Contributed by Cinderella Domino
Chapter 1

This Chapter serves as an introduction and sets the scene providing a description of the countryside surrounding the village of Ndotsheni. 

Its locality is on the eastern side of South Africa approximately 40 miles inland from the Indian Ocean, occupying a position equidistant from the coast and the country of Basutoland. 

This is the home of the main character of the story, the Reverend Stephen Kumalo, and we learn of his rustic background and his belief in


The plot is not started until the next Chapter and the reader will find that the storyline is punctuated with Chapters and passages which merely provide atmosphere, or that state a specific point concerning the factors surrounding South African life at this time.

We are given a taste of Paton’s poetic prowess, which is in stark contrast to the narrative.

When the book deals with the advancement of the plot, the style used by Paton is very simplistic.  It is designed for easy understanding by the man in the street of South Africa. There are virtually no complex passages in the entire book, and perhaps this is one of the reasons why the book has been successful over the whole spectrum of society, whether in South Africa or further a field. 

What we do gather from the first Chapter are the relative situations of whites and the native black population. We see that the whites live on the best land and in some cases look down into the valleys where the natives live on the more barren fields.

Paton uses good symbolism here describing the soil of the hills as being red and as it is washed into the rivers through erosion, it colors the rivers into a blood-red hue symbolizing the suffering of the people who bleed because of the unfair human rights and distribution of land.

You will recall that Paton studied poetry and his symbolic description of the land is shown here, “The great red hills stand desolate, and the earth has torn away like flesh.  The lightning flashes over them, the clouds pour down upon them, the dead streams come to life, full of the red blood of the earth. Down in the valleys women scratch the soil that is left, and the maize hardly reaches the height of a man.”

 the old ways of society.

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