In Cry, the Beloved Country, how do the conditions of the hills of Natal contrast with the conditions of the valley below?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The contrast between the hills, where Jarvis lives at High Place, and the valley, where Stephen lives in Ndotsheni, is both stark and symbolic. The hills are lush and green, well nourished and watered naturally by life-giving rains. Here Jarvis lives, surrounded by bounty, a white man of wealth and power. Stephen's valley, however, is dry and barren. No rains replenish the earth; no crops can be grown. The land cannot support Stephen's people, and the young must leave their homes. Thus, "the tribe is broken," and the poverty of Ndotsheni is exchanged for the poverty of Johannesburg. The lushness of Jarvis' hills and the barren state of Stephen's valley symbolize the great divisions in South Africa: economic, cultural, and racial.

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doochie | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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The hills above Ndosheni, where James Jarvis lives, are depicted by Paton as a lush and thriving enviornment with opportunity, while the valley down below are said to be barren and dry.  The valley below relates to the poverty faced by the blacks living there and is said that "the soil cannot keep them anymore," meaning that the interests of the young can no longer be satisfied by such a place.  The hills above symbolize prospertiy and happiness as evidenced by Jarvis and his unremarkable wealth.

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