What is the symbolism and significance of the pumpkin seeds in Valley Song?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The pumpkin seeds symbolize dreams.  Like seeds, the dreams have a chance to grow into reality, but it is a long and difficult process.

Just as pumpkin seeds need the richness of the land to grow into pumpkins, dreams need the right conditions to grow.  Anyone can have seeds, but they won’t necessarily be able to grow pumpkins. 

The pumpkins are also unique to the region in South Africa where the play takes place.  Just as the author wrote the play, he grew the pumpkin.  The seeds of the play come from him.  He recognizes that “a girl can’t make adventure and romance out of pumpkin seeds.”

In my little village in the Sneeuberg Mountains spring is now well underway and everyone has already planted their pumpkin seeds. (p. 1)

This is significant because as the play is starting, the dreams have already been cultivated.  The play does not start as the seeds are planted.  Ultimately, when the play starts events have already started and there is no way to alter them from their course.

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jameadows's profile pic

jameadows | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

The play opens with the Author, a white man in his 60s, holding a handful of pumpkin seeds from pumpkins he grew in the Karoo region of South Africa the year before. The pumpkin seeds are from the "Flat White Boer" variety that is native to South Africa. Buks, whose full name is Abraam Jonkers, is a black man who also plants pumpkin seeds. He plants them carefully, and has planted many seeds in his 76 years as a tenant farmer. 

The seeds symbolize the men's hope in the land and their delight in watching the crops in the Karoo grow year after year. The significance of the seeds is that both white and black men delight in planting the seeds and watching them grow, so black and white men share similar dreams and hopes. The land in South Africa offers a way to unite the races. 

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