Urban Society: The Cause of Native Corruption

Essay by lanner307High School, 11th gradeA+, May 2005

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A person traveling the road that runs from Ixopo into the hills would describe the passing valley as, "grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it" (Paton 33). This traveler would be depicting the valley of Ndotsheni, or what Ndotsheni used to look like. This land is no longer a beautiful place of greenery and lush farm land. Even the natives now refer to their home as a place with dry streams and red, bare fields with no grass for the cattle to feed upon. Ever since Johannesburg opened its mines, people have been leaving their native villages to find work or education in the white man's world. At first, the urban world seemed to bring new opportunities to the members of the village, but as time passed, elders of the community realized the urban society was simply stealing people from their homes. In Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country, Stephen Kumalo, the priest of Ndotsheni, is one such elder.

He has lost his brother, his sister, his son, and two nephews to Johannesburg. After receiving a letter telling him that his sister is ill, Kumalo decides to travel to the great city in hopes of bringing his family back to their home. However, after arriving and searching for his son, Kumalo realizes that he is too late and his family has already been corrupted by this industrial, urban world. His people leave in search of opportunity and find only discrimination which eventually leads to increased violence and crime. But no matter how terrible the situation becomes, they do not return, leaving rural villages deteriorating while they live sub-standard lives in the city. Alan Paton's novel Cry, the Beloved Country, exposes Johannesburg as the cause of native crime due to the urban society...

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