The plot is not started until the next Chapter and the reader
will find that the storyline is punctuated with Chapters and passages which merely provide atmosphere, or that state a specific point concerning the factors surrounding South African life at this time.
We are given a taste of Paton’s poetic prowess, which is in
stark contrast to the narrative.
When the book deals with the advancement of the plot, the style
used by Paton is very simplistic. It is designed for easy understanding by the man in the street of South Africa. There are virtually no complex passages in the entire book, and perhaps this
is one of the reasons why the book has been successful over the whole spectrum of society, whether in South Africa or further a field.
What we do gather from the first Chapter are the relative
situations of whites and the native black population. We see that the whites live on the best land and in some cases look down into the valleys where the natives live on the more barren fields.
Paton uses good symbolism here describing the soil of the hills
as being red and as it is washed into the rivers through erosion, it colors the rivers into a blood-red hue symbolizing the suffering of the people who bleed because of the unfair human rights and
distribution of land.
You will recall that Paton studied poetry and his symbolic
description of the land is shown here, “The great red hills stand desolate, and the earth has torn away like flesh. The lightning flashes over them, the clouds pour down upon them, the dead streams
come to life, full of the red blood of the earth. Down in the valleys women scratch the soil that is left, and the maize hardly reaches the height of a man.”
the old ways of society.