Cry, the Beloved Country

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Earth/Land Symbol Analysis

Earth/Land Symbol Icon
The earth/land of South Africa is the stabilizing force for her inhabitants. Where she (the earth is often referred to as a kind of mother) is respected and loved, she is nourishing, healthy, and able to support her people. Where she is destroyed—through urbanization (Johannesburg), through mining (the search for gold)—there is corruption, decay, drought, and a resulting poverty, starvation and thirst, etc. The most elemental of these symbols, she is also the most consistent. When her land is stripped and drought is followed by heavy rain, the earth is rightly described as “bleeding.” She is her people, and her people are her, and destruction of one begins a cycle of destruction for the other. Where the earth/land is referenced in Cry, The Beloved Country, look at her treatment by her citizens—if she’s being hurt, they will be hurt. If she is being supported, good things will follow.
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Earth/Land Symbol Timeline in Cry, the Beloved Country

The timeline below shows where the symbol Earth/Land appears in Cry, the Beloved Country. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book I, Chapter 1
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Christian Faith 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... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
The earth is torn apart, and it can no longer hold its young people. Only the elderly... (full context)
Book I, Chapter 5
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...seen before. Then Stephen and all the priests eat together, and talk about how the land and people of Ixopo are suffering, and the general “sickness of the land,” resulting in... (full context)
Book I, Chapter 9
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
...voices in a kind of Greek chorus. They tell of how the brokenness of the land and people leads directly into Johannesburg. People go there in droves, and they are constantly... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
...sicker and sicker, her mother sings to her, reminisces of the natural beauty of the land where they came from, turning into cries of fear. The child is dying. A man... (full context)
Book II, Chapter 18
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
...narrator returns to the hills above Ixopo, repeating the same praises and description of the earth as in Chapter 1. But instead of looking down, the narrator shows High Place, the... (full context)
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
James observes the plowing of his fields. There is a drought, and the earth is dry and hard. As he walks, he worries about the people in the valley... (full context)
Book II, Chapter 20
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...structure and the creation of criminals. He also points out that setting aside not enough land for a majority of the population is a dishonest way to go about solving the... (full context)
Book II, Chapter 22
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Christian Faith Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...He also tells the court that after the murder, he buried the revolver in the ground, and then prayed for forgiveness. Afterwards, when the police came searching for one of his... (full context)
Book III, Chapter 30
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...he has been missed. They tell Stephen about the drought that has been parching the land. When Stephen asks how they have been finding water, they tell him that they draw... (full context)
Book III, Chapter 31
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...As he walks to see the chief, he observes how the drought has brutalized the land. (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...a way to retain their working people, by teaching people how to care for the earth. The chief assures Stephen that such things are already being taught in school, in a... (full context)
Book III, Chapter 32
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...a strange scene—the magistrate, James Jarvis, and other white men are arranging sticks in the ground near the church. The storm clouds grow fiercer and fiercer, and the storm comes up... (full context)
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
That night, the community is puzzled about the nature of the sticks in the ground. The children play games around them. The man with the milk makes his delivery, and... (full context)
Book III, Chapter 33
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...Napoleon Letsitsi. He was hired by James to help teach farming and care of the earth to the people of Ndotsheni. Stephen asks Napoleon if he would like to stay with... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...holidays, and then rides away. As Stephen watches him go, Napoleon tells him that this land and valley can be again what it was in the past. Stephen says that he... (full context)