Some critics have seen this first chapter as being symbolic of the relative positions of the whites and the natives. That is, geographically, the whites live above the natives on the best land; the natives live below on the barren land. Besides the possible symbolism of the relative positions and qualities of the lands owned by whites and blacks, there is another source of symbolism in this chapter: when the soil of the hills is red and is washed into the rivers through erosion, it colors the rivers blood red, as if the land were one great open wound. Africa bleeds because of this unjust distribution of land and human rights. The picture given of the disintegration of Stephen's family (his loss of contact with his sister Gertrude, his brother John, and his son Absalom) shows the erosion of African society, the erosion symbolized in Chapter 1 by the erosion of the land.
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King David, Absalom, relative positions, son Absalom, wound. Africa bleeds