PDF | This paper is intended to demonstrate that the recurrent use of the marked syntactic structure called a cleft sentence in the novel Cry, the Beloved Country. Throughout his life, Alan Paton spoke out against the injustices suffered by the Paton's main purpose in his book 'Cry, the Beloved Country' is to comment on. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, , C. Scribner's Sons edition, in English.
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g i5ffEuCry, the Beloved Country. ALAN PATON. Level 6. Retold by G. F. Wear and R. H. Durham. Series Editors: Andy Hopkins and Jocelyn Potter. Cry, the Beloved Country. A Novel. Alan Paton. “Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply . CRY, THE BELOVED COUNTRY Notes LIFE AND BACKGROUND OF THE AUTHOR In Cry, the Beloved Country, Alan Paton (PAY-tun) heightened sensitivities.
He even persuades the government to help build a dam and teach the black farmers new skills. In early , he reported for his first full-time job, teaching mathematics at Ixopo High School for White Students. Stephen begins the journey naive and unsophisticated because of his inexperience in settings outside of his rural home. Only two years later, the National Party of the Afrikaners won South African elections with large majorities. A disturbance caused the Khoi to draw back and then to shower the Portuguese with stones, in turn provoking Dias into killing one of the natives. Smith when Stephen arrives at her home in Springs. Msimangu learns from the landlady, Mrs.
Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or valley.
Alan Paton, a native son of South Africa, was born in Pietermaritzburg, in the province of Natal, in Paton's initial career was spent teaching in schools for the sons of rich, white South Africans, But at thirty, he suffered a severe attack of enteric fever, and in the time he had to reflect upon his life, he decided that he did not want to spend his life teaching the sons of the rich.
He got a job as principal of Diepkloof Reformatory, a huge prison school for delinquent black boys, on the edge of Johannesburg. He worked at Diepkloof for ten years, and at the end of it Paton felt so strongly that he needed a change, that he sold his life insurance policies to finance a prison-study trip that took him to Scandinavia, England, and the United States.
It was during this time that he unexpectedly wrote his first published novel, Cry, the Beloved Country. It stands as the single most important novel in South African literature. Alan Paton died in in South Africa. Tell us what you like, so we can send you books you'll love.
His experiences in Johannesburg lead him to abandon his 23 traditional passivity for an active role in bringing necessary change to his village.
Stephen Kumalo Mrs. After trying the slow and patient route to success, he has succumbed to the temptations of quick and easy prosperity offered by more cynical and street-wise friends, including his cousin Matthew Kumalo. He remains naive and easily influenced by them, resulting in the tragedy that will end his life. She and Absalom seem fond of one another and want to marry and have the baby.
She grasps hungrily at the opportunity Stephen offers her to escape from her helpless situation in Johannesburg.
Halfheartedly attempting to raise her young son, she bootlegs liquor, becomes a prostitute, and even spends time in prison.
She falters in her resolve to change her life and return home with Stephen. His wife, Esther, has left him because of his infidelity. He helps Stephen find his sister, his brother, and his son. Later he reveals that he will soon join a religious community where he will have no possessions or worldly duties.
He supports Stephen Kumalo in efforts to help Absalom. James undergoes a transformation and becomes a local activist for improving the circumstances of the black community, backing his commitment with personal resources. Arthur has been strongly influenced by the words and ideals of Abraham Lincoln. He is married to Mary Harrison and has two young children, a nine-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter.
On the other hand, the elder Harrison, father to Mary and John, is more typical of white South Africans in his views about blacks and their place in society.
Coincidentally, James and Margaret Jarvis are visiting Mrs. Smith when Stephen arrives at her home in Springs. Stephen and James meet face-to-face for the first time at her home.
Mafolo, Mrs. Ndlela, Mrs. Baby Mkize, and the Hlatshwayos The first two rent out rooms in their homes in Sophiatown, the third in Alexandra, and the last in Shanty Town. Dubula and Tomlinson Political activists and friends to the blacks in Johannesburg. Hlabeni A taxi driver acquainted with Absalom. Kuluse and Zuma Two villagers in Ndotsheni. Tragedy overtakes him. BOOK III Kumalo and Jarvis, separately and together, struggle not only to survive the tragedy in which they are linked but to go beyond it and initiate positive change in their converging worlds.
From one view, the hills and valleys are lush and green, embellished by exotic bird sounds. On closer look, the hills fall away to barren red slopes, dry streams, and poorly tended farms in the valleys. The land no longer maintains a hold on young people and able-bodied men.
The Reverend Stephen Kumalo, parson of a small, black Anglican church in the village of Ndotsheni, receives a letter from a stranger in Johannesburg, the Reverend Theophilus Msimangu. Kumalo learns that his own sister, Gertrude, who disappeared in Johannesburg searching for her husband, is sick. Msimangu suggests that Stephen come to the city to see to her needs.
On a series of trains, Stephen travels overnight to Johannesburg. The city overwhelms him until a sympathetic stranger takes him in hand and delivers him to the Mission House in Sophiatown, Johannesburg, where he meets Msimangu, a young, black Anglican priest. Msimangu offers to help Stephen in his arrangements for Gertrude and in his search for Absalom.
He knows where they can find John Kumalo, now a political activist in Johannesburg, and reveals to Stephen that Gertrude lives as a prostitute in the worst part of Johannesburg. She makes and sells illegal liquor and has been in prison several times.
Msimangu arranges for Stephen to stay with a parishioner, Mrs. Lithebe, while he is in the city. While the first lyrical chapter introduces the reader to the physical setting of rural Natal in the Union of South Africa, it also lays the foundation for two significant cultural themes in the book: Paton does not give names to several secondary characters even though they play meaningful roles in the story.
Namelessness may reflect his intent to keep the focus on a few characters, or it may reflect his intent to let those unnamed characters represent archetypes of people with a certain background, attitude, or motivation. For example, these opening chapters introduce two unnamed characters who will play ongoing roles in the story: He seems to typify the respectful, supportive attitudes of the small tribal community.
Paton was very familiar with the Protestant Bible. He never indicated an intentional link to the biblical story, but the reader who knows the biblical account will see parallels between the Absaloms.
This brief chapter and the parallel section in the first chapter of Book II are virtually short narrative poems that include literary devices and wordplays. Using another stylistic tool, Paton makes dramatic use of sentence fragments. The power of first impressions and new experiences is heightened by narration in present tense. Here and in the following sections, selected words and phrases from the novel are explained or clarified.
Such words are not repeated in these chapter glossaries unless they merit additional comment. The country became the Republic of South Africa in A South African pound was equivalent to about four dollars. Narrow gauge railways are more prevalent on short rail lines in rural areas. His initial anger and shame at what she has 32 become quickly change to compassion and protectiveness. He encourages her to return to Ndotsheni with him when he goes home.
She agrees, and he immediately moves her and her son into Mrs. John lectures them on his views about the need for a new society with greater equality and more opportunity for black South Africans. Finally, he admits that he does not know where Absalom and his own son are, but he directs them to a textile factory where the boys once worked. There, the landlady refers the two men to a distant section of Johannesburg called Alexandra. Because buses to Alexandra are being picketed by blacks in protest against fare increases, Kumalo and Msimangu start to walk the eleven miles.
To their great surprise, a sympathetic white man offers them a ride to Alexandra, which they accept. Msimangu learns from the landlady, Mrs. Mkize, that Absalom and his cousin had brought stolen goods to the house, but they have not lived there for about a year. She tells them the name of a taxi driver with whom Absalom and his cousin were friendly. When Stephen and Msimangu find the taxi driver, he suggests that the boys may live in Shanty Town, in the section called Orlando. Chapter 9 is a series of short scenes illustrating the harsh realities of life in Shanty Town.
The extraordinary conditions of Shanty Town are experienced through the special literary device of an interpolated chapter. I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they [the whites] are turned to loving, they will find we are turned to hating. Paton realistically portrays racial groups in their diversity of attitudes and behavior throughout the book.
In these chapters, for example: On the one hand, John Kumalo catalogs the gross exploitation of the blacks by the white power structure. On the other hand, Stephen and Msimangu directly experience supportive efforts by individual whites, including the white man and other whites ferrying blacks between Sophiatown and Alexandra, even under threat by the police.
Stephen directly experiences a wide range of behavior among the blacks he encounters: Mafolo, who leads him to his destination; his own sister and brother; and, of course, his new friend, Theophilus Msimangu.
It is informative to watch how Stephen and Msimangu each react to the events and circumstances that they encounter in their search for Absalom. Stephen begins the journey naive and unsophisticated because of his inexperience in settings outside of his rural home. Msimangu, on the other hand, demonstrates considerable disillusionment about racial inequities, living and working as he does in the midst of Johannesburg and its deprived black communities. The events in the book will change both men.
Chapter 9 opens with the theme of migration to the city: Paton shows how difficult it is for blacks to find living space even in their own community, and he demonstrates why people rent rooms in their already-crowded homes to make ends meet. Notice the ironic twist in the quoted prayer over the sick child: Christ have mercy upon us.
White man, have mercy upon us. The term Bantu, however, is offensive to many South African blacks on both political and linguistic grounds. In the s and s, a group of segregated townships southwest of Johannesburg acquired the collective name South West Townships, abbreviated to Soweto. In , Soweto gained world renown as the focal community in the violent revolt against apartheid.
Dubula comments that some blacks make only thirty-five or forty shillings a week, the equivalent of about seven or eight dollars. The increase in bus fare from fourpence to sixpence would mean that many workers would pay about a sixth of their total weekly wages for transportation.
The Afrikaans form is kaffer. The other two men were Jan Hofmeyr and Archbishop Geoffrey Clayton, both of whom became subjects of biographies written by Paton. He prays for spiritual strength before continuing his search for Absalom. A Shanty Town nurse directs Stephen and Msimangu to the Hlatshwayo home, where Absalom had lived for a while, although he is no longer lives there. At the Hlatshwayo home, Stephen and Msimangu learn that Absalom was taken to a reformatory.
When they visit the reformatory, they discover that Absalom was released a month earlier so that he could make money to support a family; a young woman is carrying his child. A young, sympathetic white man at the reformatory takes Stephen and Msimangu first to his own home for tea and then to Pimville to visit the young pregnant woman, who tells Stephen she has not seen Absalom for several days.
Initially, Msimangu tries to dissuade Stephen from taking responsibility for the woman and her child, pointing out that Absalom may not even be the father. The newspapers report the murder of Arthur Jarvis, a courageous white supporter of black rights and justice.
Arthur is the only son of James Jarvis, whose great farm is in the hills above 36 Ndotsheni. Stephen accompanies Msimangu on a pastoral visit to a shelter for blacks who are blind. During his time alone, Stephen begins wondering if Absalom could possibly be involved in the murder, making Stephen all the more eager to get his family out of Johannesburg, with Absalom and his wife-to-be, if possible.
Commentary The character of the young white man at the unnamed reformatory is based on one of the men who worked for Paton when he was the principal of Diepkloof, a large reformatory for four hundred black boys ages nine to twenty-one. The fact that the young white man invites Kumalo and Msimangu to his home for tea would have been most unusual in the South Africa of Also extraordinary is that the young man and his wife have taken several of the black boys from the reformatory into their home to live with them.
Another demonstration of how whites were contributing to the welfare of blacks appears during the visit of Stephen and Msimangu to Ezenzeleni: In the silence that follows, the journalist interjects an emotional paragraph characterizing the effect such events have on the whole society.
The phrase reappears in the next chapter in a more extended statement of concern and caution: Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly. Let him not be moved. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much. The differences are reinforced through the habitual and traditional reactions each group has to the ongoing societal circumstances, such as the generally poor living conditions of the blacks, as well as to dramatic events like the murder of the younger Jarvis.
Paton himself pointed out in Towards the Mountain that this paragraph about fear is a kind of hyperbole: It is not true that fear will rob the child of all if he gives too much, but it is true that fear will temper his joy. Furthermore, the disparate elements of society can all contribute toward a future with greater equality among the races — if people will accept responsibility for serving a cause greater than themselves.
This view is reinforced by the repetition of a theme repeated from Chapter 1: When Msimangu preaches to the blind at Ezenzeleni, he reads from the Bible. Isaiah His pleasure, however, is soon buried under the despair of learning from Msimangu and the young white man from the reformatory that Absalom, along with his cousin and another friend, has been arrested for the murder of Arthur Jarvis. On the way to the prison, Stephen stops to tell his brother, John, about the arrests, and John accompanies him to the prison.
Stephen finally sees Absalom for the first time since his son left home. Absalom admits that in his fright at being discovered during a theft, he unintentionally shot Jarvis. He has already 39 confessed this to the police. To Stephen he is uncommunicative about himself: He agrees to marry the girl having his baby and not to write to his mother yet.
Matthew will deny having been at the scene of the murder. He abruptly leaves Stephen and Msimangu. Later he returns to Stephen to apologize for his reactions and urges him to find a good lawyer.
Father Vincent of the Mission House agrees to find a lawyer and also to perform the marriage between Absalom and the girl. He admonishes Stephen not to judge Absalom and to find personal solace through prayers for others, not in self-recrimination or blame of Absalom. The next day, Stephen goes alone to tell the girl what has happened, to find out if she wants to marry Absalom, and to offer to take her back to Ndotsheni with him. She agrees to the marriage and is pleased with the prospect of living in Ndotsheni.
Stephen arranges for her to move temporarily into the Lithebe house where he and Gertrude are staying. Stephen again visits Absalom, who agrees to marry the girl and to talk with a lawyer, especially in light of the denials by the other two young men, including his cousin, Matthew. The lawyer, Mr. Carmichael, interviews Absalom and then visits Stephen to say he will take the case without a fee, pro deo for God.
Commentary The ambivalence of the young white man from the reformatory realistically reflects attitudes of many people who devote time and resources to the needs of those in less favorable circumstances: God abandons no one, even if that seems to happen. Prayers and gratitude are essential.
Absalom finally tells him it is the work of the devil, to which Stephen reacts impatiently. Even though he is so glad to find his son, he cannot avoid being the scolding father. Like other farmers, he realizes that the valleys are drying up, becoming barren, because the natives know nothing about farming methods. He regrets that Arthur, his son and only offspring, has chosen not to take over the family farm, one of the finest in the area, but instead chose to become an engineer.
A police car arrives near the Jarvis house bearing the area police captain and the local officer. The captain informs James that his son has been shot to death at his home in Johannesburg.
Shocked at the news, James makes arrangements with the police to be flown to Johannesburg. He takes on the difficult task of informing his wife. John tells James that Arthur was one of the finest men he knew. Harrison points out the terrible irony that Arthur, virtually a missionary for the cause of the natives, has himself been killed by a native. Inwardly, James regrets that he did not understand his son better when he was alive. In one of the books, he reads the Gettysburg address. He then pockets the Lincoln book for later reading.
The service is attended not only by whites but by blacks, coloureds, and Asians. The Jarvises had never before sat in a church with non-whites. James is very moved as he reads it in private.
John is apparently trying to prevent his father and others from condemning a whole ethnic group Afrikaners for the attitudes and actions of a segment of the group the Nationalists. The service for Arthur provides the first time James and his wife have ever sat in a church with non-whites and the first time James has ever shook hands with blacks.
On the one hand, these arrangements seemed to assure better living for the workers since they would not then be entirely dependent on their own small, withering farms. On the other hand, they would become dependent on the white farmers, and if members of the native family left home, the blacks might be hard pressed to meet the commitments of their farming arrangements. They are identical in almost every word. However, in Book I, the narrative proceeded down the hill toward the community of Stephen Kumalo and his parishioners in Ndotsheni.
This common beginning, describing actual common ground between both sides, dramatizes how close the two communities are geographically to one another but suggests how conspicuously different are the lives of their residents as a result of racial and cultural circumstances.
The theme of father-son separation and reconciliation is reflected in a special way in these chapters. James begins to learn about his son: James begins moving toward a kind of mental and spiritual reconciliation with his son, which eventually manifests itself in his actions. So Absalom changes his plea to not guilty. His cousin, Matthew, and their companion, Johannes Pafuri, both plead not guilty.
Matthew and Johannes appear shocked at his description of the crime. The judge questions Absalom about his gun: On the way out of the hearing, Stephen Kumalo recognizes the father of the victim as James Jarvis, his wealthy neighbor, and feels humiliated. Meanwhile, a new vein of gold has been discovered in the Orange Free State province, a reason for celebration by white investors who watch their investment grow five-fold overnight. Some predict a new Johannesburg in the Orange Free State, while others lament that the profits will not be used for social and agricultural improvements.
But of South Africa I learned nothing at all. James is deeply moved. While James and his wife are visiting their niece, Barbara Smith, and her husband in Springs, near Johannesburg, Stephen 47 Kumalo arrives to ask about a girl who once worked for the Smiths but who is now missing. When Stephen sees James at the door, he staggers and has to sit down on the steps.
James waits patiently while Stephen collects himself and states his business. He finally recognizes Stephen as the Ndotsheni pastor and sees the fear and suffering on his face.
He reminds Stephen that as a small boy, Arthur occasionally rode through Ndotsheni on his horse. When James translates her reply into Zulu for Stephen, he does not include her final comment of indifference. The discoveries led to a new influx of whites into the country, which had been under British rule since 48 the early s. The extent of white prejudice and condescension is represented in this omniscient narrative comment: The men can come to the mines and bigger and better compounds can be built for them, and still more vitamins be put in their food.
But we shall have to be careful about that, because some fellow has discovered that labour can be overvitaminized. This is an example of the Law of Diminishing Returns. One catalyst to this change is the written legacy of his murdered son. Another is the obvious respect he receives from people of various backgrounds. James already speaks Zulu fluently. Smith, and he initiates the Zulu ritual of farewell.
His final comment to his wife is also revealing: Even the visual pattern of dashes before most dialogue accentuates the rapid-fire testimony by which Absalom seals his own fate. The use of present tense throughout the scene gives it added immediacy. Chapter 23 is another interpolated chapter that seems to have little to do with the forward movement of the story. That does not mean he can do everything. As on previous occasions, he stops short of inciting them to violence, although white police in attendance have that very concern about his words.
Among the crowd, Stephen Kumalo is amazed at the impact his brother has on the crowd. In four short segments at the end of Chapter 26, the views of whites about the unrest among the blacks are revealed, and the results of a worker strike are summarized. Lithebe admonishes Gertrude about the people she sees and about her careless behavior.
After they attend an evening church meeting during which a black woman speaks about becoming a nun, Gertrude confides to Mrs. Another murder of a white citizen by a black intruder occurs just before the judge is scheduled to reveal his verdicts for the three young men held in the killing of Arthur Jarvis.
The judge reviews his evaluation of the evidence against each defendant and concludes by declaring Absalom Kumalo guilty of murder without, in his opinion, mitigating circumstances. He releases Matthew Kumalo and Johannes Pafuri for lack of evidence. The judge sentences Absalom to death by hanging.
Absalom collapses in terror, and Stephen is helped from the courtroom by Msimangu and the supportive young white man from the reformatory. In prison, Father Vincent performs the marriage of Absalom and the young woman carrying his child. Afterward, Stephen stays for a while to comfort Absalom and say goodbye. He and the rest of the family will return to Ndotsheni the next day.
Absalom has arranged for Stephen to have his small savings for the child. Absalom clings to his father as he admits he is afraid of the hanging. He must be forcibly pulled away by the prison guards. Stephen visits his brother to say goodbye and offends John by implying that Matthew betrayed Absalom. John angrily puts Stephen out of his shop, and Stephen is immediately ashamed of what he has done.
In the meantime, James Jarvis and his wife leave the Harrison household on their way back to their home at Carisbrooke. At a farewell party in Mrs. They part with great emotion. He discovers that Gertrude has disappeared, having left her son behind for Stephen to care for. And people persist in discussing soil-erosion, and tribal decay, and lack of schools, and crime, as though they were all parts of the matter.
So in a way it is best not to think about it at all. Throughout these four chapters, actions of both main and secondary characters illustrate their individuality and demonstrate the range of qualities in their varied characters: Lithebe unselfishly supports Stephen and his family, virtual strangers to her.
Chapters 26—28 move the reader forward with minimal involvement of the main characters. Instead, the actions are played out by secondary characters who represent archetypes of the time: He even hedges his exhortation about better wages: The action of the young white man at the end of the chapter symbolizes the interracial support of human rights that will eventually surface and bring change.
Influenced by the need for profits, the Commission concluded that since the workers really made their living on the farms at home, wages need be no more than pocket money. His wife and his good friend meet them at the station, and they walk home amidst the greetings and enthusiastic welcomes of people along the way.
The joyous news of his arrival is passed along in shrill calls from one place to another. Stephen notices that the stream bed is dry and that the grain is poorly developed.
In his church, he leads prayers of thanksgiving and prayers for rain and for his family, including Absalom, though it is difficult for Stephen to do so in front of the congregation. From his friend, Stephen learns that the community knows that Absalom killed Arthur Jarvis. Stephen wonders aloud if he can remain as pastor under these circumstances, but his friend says that he is much needed and respected, even now. The friend is now working for James. Stephen realizes that he himself has changed as a result of his recent experiences.
Acknowledging that the problems of Ndotsheni and its farms will not be solved through prayer alone, Stephen meets with the tribal chief to urge him to action.
Stephen also tries to energize the headmaster, who instead sees the agricultural crisis as hopeless and himself as powerless. The boy learns that children in town are dying for lack of milk. A letter from the lawyer informs him that the court found no mercy in the case, and Absalom will be hanged on the fifteenth of the month.
A letter from Absalom himself acknowledges the same fact and says that a priest is helping him prepare for his execution. A letter from Msimangu causes Stephen a momentary wish to be back in Johannesburg with him.
The fourth letter is from Absalom to his new wife. From a distance, Stephen watches as James greets men arriving in an automobile, the magistrate among them. The tribal chief and his entourage also arrive. The men survey and stake out a large area. Stephen observes James expressing impatience and offering to go to Pretoria himself to facilitate action. Stephen overhears the magistrate say to one of the white men that Jarvis must be losing his mind as well as his money.
The church roof leaks everywhere, and the two men have difficulty staying dry even inside the church. Before Jarvis leaves, he asks if the court has found mercy for Absalom, and Stephen shows him the letter from Absalom.
Commentary The tribal community, headed by the chief, seems tenuous and outdated in present circumstances. The tribal officials are rigid in their protocol, and later the chief and his followers are made to 55 look naive, even foolish, in their efforts to help the surveyors. Stephen himself recognizes that he must go further than custom would allow if he is to bring change to his community.
These chapters dramatize the changes taking place in both Stephen and James. In Chapter 31, he has a period of self-revelation and then finds unprecedented directness and persistence in himself to move the chief to action; he tries unsuccessfully to move the headmaster. His actions here illustrate how anger and grief can be transformed into positive action. Also, James decides to do something about the agricultural problems, including the lack of water and the lack of sound farming knowledge.
He, too, shows signs of not accepting the slow pace of change and offers to go to the capital to push things along. He also arranges for a young agricultural demonstrator, Napoleon Letsitsi, to spend time in Ndotsheni teaching the natives more prudent methods of farming.
Napoleon assures Stephen that the dry valley can eventually recover. He confirms that a dam is to be built to create a supply of water for farming. As Stephen prepares for a confirmation service, he learns that the elder Mrs. Jarvis has died. Since he cannot — because he is black — go to the Jarvis house to express his sorrow, he sends a message of condolence to James Jarvis.
Along the way, he meets James, who asks if Stephen and his congregation will accept the new church from him. James tells Stephen that he is going to Johannesburg to live with his daughter and grandchildren but will return often to observe the progress in the valley and to expand the agricultural effort to nearby areas. After an exchange of emotional farewells, James rides away on horseback. During his lonely vigil, Stephen confesses to God his lies and his hurts of others in recent weeks and gives thanks for his many blessings, while pondering why recent events have happened to himself and to Jarvis.
He sleeps for a while, waking just before 57 dawn, wondering how Absalom is coping with his final moments on earth. He prays through the appointed hour of the execution. We work for the land and the people. We work for Africa. Instead, he writes a respectful note in English and sends it with a child. When James meets Stephen on his way to the mountain, Stephen weeps openly as he tells James of his mission on the hilltop.
In their encounter on the mountain, James reveals much about his own change and his intentions to continue to work for changes in the land, both here and in other areas. He realizes that true freedom for his people is a long way off because the whites fear the blacks and their numbers.
Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! Only two years later, the National Party of the Afrikaners won South African elections with large majorities.
Almost immediately, the racial policies of apartheid were made law, furthering the separation of the racial groups in South Africa. Unfortunately, Paton did not live to see the following monumental changes: De Klerk became prime minister, although his own National Party was losing support of many Afrikaners. He also released several black political prisoners and lifted bans against black political organizations. In early , De Klerk finally released Nelson Mandela, who spent twenty-seven years in prison as a political prisoner.
Struggles for power among the black political groups erupted into violence in both Natal and Transvaal, putting tremendous strain on the developing relationship between Mandela and De Klerk. From to , non-white leaders negotiated with key figures in the white government, much of it in secret, to develop a new constitution for South Africa, eliminating apartheid and insuring representation of all South African citizens in the political process.
In , the first elections were held under an interim constitution, and Nelson Mandela was elected the first President, as well as the first black head of government, of South Africa. Apartheid was finally dead, at least on paper. In , the final version of the South African constitution was officially adopted by a parliamentary vote of to 2, with 10 abstentions.
Subsequent to the assumption of government leadership by the blacks, many white English and Afrikaners, as well as representatives of the coloureds, expressed concern about their political status and the protection of their rights as minorities.
To the credit of his talent, most of these themes are as relevant today as they were fifty years ago: Readers bringing their personal histories to the story as they read may see additional themes in the book. People grow and change by accepting their personal responsibility for serving a cause greater than themselves.
For much of the book, Stephen Kumalo views himself as a victim of his circumstances with no responsibility or authority for changing those circumstances. Similarly, James Jarvis first blames a society that cannot adequately protect its citizens from inevitable racial retaliation. He realizes what his son has achieved even in his short life. Patterns of inequality in human rights, living conditions, and personal empowerment based on racial or ethnic differences are unjust and ultimately intolerable.
From his childhood and parents, Paton learned tolerance of race and ethnic differences, yet he was frequently confronted by discrimination and prejudice in many forms: Paton lived in a nation in which the white race was officially declared superior to all other races, and separation of whites from all other racial groups was 61 mandatory under the law.
The novel clearly portrays both the facts of the inequitable conditions and the attitudes that sustain them. Anger and grief can be transformed into positive action. One theory of human emotion proposes that all human energy comes from the same source and is capable of being utilized for either constructive or non-constructive purposes. Thus, the natural emotions of anger and grief can be nurtured and magnified, sometimes leading to destructive actions, or they can be purposefully transformed into more positive emotions and constructive actions.
Many times in his life, Paton transformed strong emotions of anger, grief, disappointment, and loss into renewed efforts. His opposition to injustice, ignorance, and exploitation led him first to his writing and subsequently to his political advocacy for the non-whites. In the novel, both fathers — Stephen and James — learn to transform their anger and grief into action designed to help solve the problems.
Fathers and sons often experience cycles of separation and reconciliation. Paton was occasionally pessimistic about eliminating racial discrimination, but he never gave up hope for it in his own life. He always felt that the future held hope for the repudiation of apartheid, and it did, although he did not live to see it. In the novel, hope is a dominant theme from the very first chapter. Even when Stephen is at his lowest emotionally, he finds and magnifies glimmers of light and hope, finally expanding his attitudes and actions to bring about changes in what he knows best: Rural populations tend to migrate toward urban centers, contributing to the deterioration of rural society.
Paton would have liked to stay in the beautiful rural areas of South Africa where he spent his childhood. He recognized that, not only for himself, but for many South Africans, the cities were hubs around which clustered potential employers of those with limited education and skills.
The soil cannot keep them any more. An important part of this theme in the novel is the associated deterioration of the tribal culture in the rural areas. The attractions of civilization, as well as the imposed British law and government, undermined the tribal group traditions and unity.
The story, however, had to be set in South Africa at the time of its writing: For example: Throughout the novel, settings serve not only as backdrops for the physical happenings of the story but as reflections of the life of the people who live and work in them. In the short opening chapter, Paton contrasts the living environments of the blacks and those of the whites in South Africa in This famous opening chapter of Book I, substantially repeated at the beginning of Book II, uses many sensory words and phrases to breathe life into the rural setting: In the next several chapters, Paton depicts a variety of living conditions for urban blacks, the most emotional of which is in the interpolated chapter about Shanty Town Chapter 9.
Small yet telling details include: In Cry, the Beloved Country, consider how Paton brings to life the three central characters: Some literary critics would call him the suffering hero: He must experience suffering before he attains a complete awareness of life and makes the most of his talent and creativity.
Even his first name recalls the Christian saint who underwent martyrdom through suffering. Stephen is not without faults. He has his share of pride as first seen when he boards the train and pretends to be someone of importance and even a measure of quick anger as seen with Gertrude, Absalom, and John.
His job is to help his black parishioners cope with the present circumstances because there is no return to the past. But most white men do not know this truth about power, and they are afraid lest we get it. I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find we are turned to hating. His voice rose into loud and angry words. Go up and ask the white man, he said. Perhaps there are letters. Perhaps they have fallen under the counter, or been hidden amongst the food.
Look there in the trees, perhaps they have been blown there by the wind. James Jarvis, too, is revealed through his words and actions. In our first encounter with him on his farm, James reflects on the typical disparaging conversations among whites about the black farmers and their abilities: I understand what I did not understand.
There is no anger in me. Were your back as broad as heaven, and your purse full of gold, and did your compassion reach from here to hell itself, there is nothing you can do.
And if he were, how many more such have you? Shall we search them out, day after day, hour after hour? Will it ever end?