Valley Song opens with The Author, a white man in his sixties representing Fugard himself, showing the audience a handful of ‘‘genuine Karoo pumpkin seeds,’’ describing the beauty and richness of the land in the Sneeuberg Mountains of South Africa's great Karoo region, and inviting the onlookers to imagine Abraam Jonkers, a ‘‘coloured’’ (mixed-race) tenant farmer now in his seventies, planting the seeds in the fresh spring earth just after a rain. The images in The Author's opening monologue—seeds, earth, rain, mountains, and valleys—are important not only to the setting of Valley Song, but to the personalities of the characters and the larger themes at work in the play.
As The Author talks, he turns into Abraam Jonkers, known to everyone in the village of Nieu-Bethesda as ‘‘old Buks.’’ Old Buks has lived in the village his entire life, working as a tenant farmer on the same piece of land his father worked on when he was a boy. While the land has been owned by a white family, the Landmans, for generations, Abraam Jonkers and his family have only been allowed to live on the edge of it and farm a few acres. Old Buks has raised the crops for the Landmans, and his wife, before she died, cleaned their house and scrubbed their floors. Now the Landmans are gone, and the property is for sale.
As Buks sings fragments of an old song he once knew and plants pumpkin seeds in the damp soil, his granddaughter,...
(The entire section is 1713 words.)
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