Deterioration Of The Tribal System In Cry, The Beloved Country

1707 words - 7 pages

Throughout the entirety of the novel one of the main points that Paton stresses very heavily is the fact that the tribal system was and is continuing to do deteriorate from start to finish. While his points of view and his opinions on the crumbling of the system are irrelevant Paton does make a fair point in saying that the tribal system and he shows it in various yet numerous parts in the book.
Even from the first chapter of the book when Paton is describing South Africa through the eyes of Kumalo, he shows signs that the tribal system is becoming a thing of the past if not already there. In this quote “They are the valleys of old men and old women… The soil cannot keep them anymore”(pg. 34) Paton is doing a couple of things at once, firstly he is using this for foreshadowing of how a few of the things in the book are, at the same time he is also using it to make an allusion to the tribal system.
When Paton uses the foreshadowing at the end of chapter one very skillfully. He makes it a point to make sure that the reader has no illusion as to how the circumstances are. He foreshadows the feelings of Kumalo and many others by stating “the soil cannot keep them anymore” this becomes overly apparent in the next few chapters of the book when Kumalo talks about his family members that have left the small town of Ndotsheni to head to Johannesburg in search of many things if not just work. He speaks of his sister, who turns out to be a prostitute among other things, his brother, who ends up being a well-known politician, and lastly his son, whom he finds in prison for murder. All these situations show that people are no longer following the traditions of the said “tribal system” and due to this degradation they are leaving their birth places, their family, and their heritage. With these things abandoned they head to the big city in expectations of work, riches, love, and many other things that turn out to be non-existent in Johannesburg. The fact that many of the people that travel to Johannesburg never come back is a sign that the city is a black hole, and in a black hole there is no tribal system, there is no happiness, there are no morals, there is nothing but crappy conditions.
Along beside his use of foreshadowing Paton also uses this as a way to compare the circumstances of the book and to allude to his attitude of the tribal system. He makes it very obvious in using the word old. It is his way of saying that the people and the system are outdated, and are soon going to be phased out. His use of this and his description of the land and the sad state that it is in is again another comparison to the crumbling tribal system and the crumbling fields of Ndotsheni.
If not one of the most significant shows of how weak the tribal system is the fact that Christianity is a very predominant feature in Ndotsheni and places in Johannesburg in general. Christianity is pretty much the opposite of the tribal system. It was shoved down the natives of South...

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