After fleeing their comfortable home in Johannesburg, Maureen Smales and her family are taken in by the family of their servant, July. July and his family live in a rural village that lacks the amenities Maureen has grown used to in Johannesburg. In the bush, she has no access to...
After fleeing their comfortable home in Johannesburg, Maureen Smales and her family are taken in by the family of their servant, July. July and his family live in a rural village that lacks the amenities Maureen has grown used to in Johannesburg. In the bush, she has no access to electricity or modern plumbing. It is this stark change in surroundings that sparks a conscious awakening in Maureen. You can find an example of this idea in the line, "It pressed in upon her and filled her as someone's breath fills a balloon's shape." This line refers to Maureen's feeling of being taken over by or becoming one with the nature that suddenly surrounds her.
In Chapters 18 and 19, you can find multiple examples of Maureen's oneness with nature. This is not always a positive experience for Maureen, as seen when she travels into the woods in search of July. She begins to dissociate, feeling as if she is not present in the physical world and that the bush could easily swallow her up because there would be no witnesses. This feeling is brought on by her realization that the poverty of the village has left no human imprint on the land. There is no litter and no sign that Maureen, or anyone else, was ever there. In this place, nature is dominant and Maureen finds her own identity in danger of being swallowed up by it.
When faced with the vastness of the bush, Maureen finds herself drawn to it like a magnet. The power of nature is so deep and inescapable that she is consumed by it. Her thoughts lose their chronological order and structure. The forces of nature themselves, such as the water and the air, seem to replace her thoughts and concerns.
In chapter 19, Maureen has another similar experience just before the helicopter arrives in the village. As she sits alone in a remote hut, she begins to feel a disturbance in the air. This experience hints that she has developed a connection with nature that allows her to know when something is about to change. She runs to the river and wades into it, despite her concern about the water's sanitation. As the helicopter lands in the village, she dares to explore the bank she was previously wary of. These actions demonstrate Maureen's willingness to become one with nature and conquer her fear of it now that she has a hope of returning to her old life.