Cry, the Beloved Country

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Cry, the Beloved Country Book I, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
An unnamed narrator describes the beauty of the South African veld: the hills and grass, the sound of the birds, the mountains, and the road that leads into them. Cattle graze on the ground, but not enough to overgraze and the land. The ground holds moisture and life, and feeds the streams that flow down into the valley.
The narrator describes the country of South Africa as beautiful, full of life, and as life-giving, but only to a point: it supports cattle, as long as they do not overuse it. Up here in the hills, the necessary balance between land and people still exists.
Themes
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
The narrator states that you should stand barefoot upon this earth, because it’s sacred, and from God. The narrator instructs you to take care of the land, because it takes care of men. If it is destroyed, so is man.
The narrator describes a cycle of care between the land and mankind—. To stand barefoot upon the earth is a symbol of connection to the earth, and support of that cycle. Note the connection also of the land to God.
Themes
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Christian Faith Theme Icon
As the hills descend into the valley, the grass disappears, destroyed by farming, overgrazing of cattle, and misuse. The narrator tells you that if you stand on this ground barefoot, you will cut your feet. Man did not take care of it, and now it no longer takes care of man. When it rains, the exposed red soil bleeds.
The closer the land gets to human civilization, the more ravaged it is. Here, the cycle of care is broken. If you stand on this ground, the symbolism is clear: because mankind has not cared for it, it can't care for man and, in fact, will harm man.
Themes
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
The earth is torn apart, and it can no longer hold its young people. Only the elderly and parents of small children, and the children themselves, remain.
With the land destroyed, the communities that depend on it also fall apart. The adults who work and make the land and community thrive and grow are gone.
Themes
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
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