Everyone in Valley Song is pursuing a dream, and it is the nature of the characters' dreams and how far they are willing to go to achieve them that really defines who they are in the world of the play.
Abraam Jonkers' dream is the simplest of the three. It was handed to him by his father when he was just a young boy. While working in the fields one day, his father explained to him that if he grew up to be a good man, then God would make his days as sweet as the grapes that grew in their valley. To be a good man, he explained, Abraam must work hard on the land, love everyone who lives in his home and village, and have faith and worship God in the village church. Since that time, everything Abraam has done has been an attempt to live up to his father's directions. He has dedicated himself to the same patch of land, his ‘‘akkers,’’ that his father farmed, and is inseparable from the earth, even though he can never own it himself. He has cared for everyone in his home—his daughter, Caroline; his wife, Betty; and now his granddaughter, Veronica—even as they have left him one at a time. And he is devoted to his faith in God, despite the fact that his days have not always been as sweet as the grapes of his valley.
Insofar as Abraam's dream of a simple, honest life on the land is productive and not harmful to others, it seems admirable, but his dream comes with complications as well. It interferes with the aspirations of his daughter and granddaughter, who don't share his love for the land. Abraam's simple dream also seems narrow and outdated with the prospect of a ‘‘new’’ South Africa, where everyone—black, white, and coloured alike—is free to dream bigger dreams.
Veronica represents the spirit of this new South Africa. She has lofty dreams of leaving the valley village and heading off to the big city where she can become a famous singer and one day appear on television. Because she is too young to have experienced the worst of apartheid in the old regime, she does not share the fears of her grandfather that the white world will close the door of opportunity that leads to the fulfillment of her dream. Her energy, enthusiasm, and passion for her dream are enviable and exciting, but they, too, carry danger. As The Author warns her more than once, if dreams are too big they may not come true, and dashed dreams can lead to disappointment and bitterness.
For his part, The Author has had his share of both passionate dreaming with some success and unrealistic dreaming with disappointing results. In his sixty-plus years he has achieved some of the fame and fortune as an artist that Veronica is seeking, but the struggle has taken a toll on him. Where he once had grand dreams about a ‘‘Glorious Future’’ for his country, he now dreams only of escaping the artificial world of cities and the theater and living out his days in the ‘‘real’’ world of the Karoo farmland. He tells Veronica, ‘‘The future belongs to you now,’’ and symbolically passes the torch of hope, the ability to keep on dreaming, from his generation to the next.
Cycle of Life
Valley Song begins and ends with The Author...
(The entire section is 1321 words.)
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