Through these two contrasting places, Johannesburg and Ndotsheni, what is Paton saying about South Africa?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The reality that Paton constructs through location is fairly profound.  On one hand, there is the cultural fragmentation of Ndotsheni. Kumalo recognizes that many of his tribe's people are leaving Nodtsheni for the economic and social opportunities that present themselves in the urban setting of Johannesburg.  At the same time, what is waiting for them in Johannesburg is the urban plight of crowded conditions, lack of hope, and a despair in which people have sacrificed their own sense of tribal conditions for the hope of material prosperity.  In both conditions, Kumalo recognizes the pain of hopelessness for Blacks under the Apartheid system of South Africa.  At the same time, Paton constructs a tragic condition as reflected in geography.  On one hand, the cultural and tribal traditions of Ndotsheni are being viewed in the context of the past, something being seen as obsolete and out of date.  The modern metropolis of Johannesburg, though, is filled with hollowness and forlornness.  In this tragic condition, in which both settings have limitations and both spell a sense of limitation and doom for Black Africans in South Africa, Paton is able to bring out a reality few others can evoke.  Even geography seems to be lined up against Black Africans in their desire for hope in a system of Apartheid.

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Cry, the Beloved Country

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