A Comparison of Country and City Life in Alan Paton's Cry the Beloved Country

A Comparison of Country and City Life in Alan Paton's Cry the Beloved Country

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The country and the city life depicted in Alan Paton's novel Cry, The Beloved Country portray two different aspects of life in South Africa in the later half of the 1940's. The country life in the book is Ndotsheni and the city life is Johannesburg. Neither country life or city life would be considered perfect. Both living areas enjoyed positive aspects and negative drawbacks. The country was looked at as the backward part of South Africa, and the city was looked at as the advanced part of South Africa. For the most part though people living in the country would rater stay in the country, and those who make their living in the city would rather live there. These two parts of the country were only separated by a day's worth of travel on train rides, but the societies within them were as different as night and day.

Life in Ndotsheni was that of agricultural tribal communities. The people were mostly all simple, illiterate, African pastoralists trying to live off the land. It would have been hard to grow the crops needed to survive, such as maize, because of the arid environment. Drought was not at all uncommon, and it is quite hard to grow a food supply or feed cattle when there is no water to replenish the land. The tribesmen needed help from men educated in agriculture to help cultivate the land. A person with education will know exactly what seeds to plant and when to plant them. He would also know the importance of the cattle dung to make the soil rich. If the soil is not good enough to produce crops then the villagers will be forced to move to the city along with the people who have received an education, and work for the white man's wages. "A boy with education did not want to work on the farms, and went off to the town...


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...te basin, and water cold and hot, and towels worn but very white, and a modern lavatory too."(51) The Africans were not subjects of the chief anymore when they lived in the cities as well, and some looked at the chief as nothing more than a lackey for the whites.

These are two entirely different lifestyles of South Africa depicted in Paton's novel. Neither of them is perfect, but they are the options. One can either live in the backward rural country, or in the industrialized city. When one was raised in a society he would not think much of different societies unless he visited them. Then he would be able to see how different two worlds can be. Even though both societies are just trying to survive and prosper they go about it in much different methods. The are both hoping for the same outcome though, that their children's lives will be better than their own.

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