The Beloved Country Cries in Pain

Written at the pinnacle of South Africa’s social and racial crisis, Alan Paton’s novel Cry, the Beloved Country traces the battle of 2 families, black and white, through their shared suffering and the devotion to their beloved nation that unites them in the end. Paton thoughtfully weaves his plot to show the diverse population’s varying perspectives on numerous social problems, mostly through the eyes of the main characters. His distinct sense of design manifests, however, through his use of intercalary chapters, chapters in the novel which in no chance contribute to the story, but rather exemplify the awful social scenarios in parts of South Africa unidentified to the primary characters and, therefore, the reader. The book is, in essence, politically allegorical. Paton uses the fictional story of a modest black priest and an enlightened white man’s last harmonization, through which a previous wasteland returns to fertility, to expose to the rest of South Africa that all hope for the future is not lost.

A description begins the book: “there is a lovely roadway that ranges from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.” The author mentions the beauty of Africa, but quickly the tone modifications into that of misery: “However the rich hills break down … for they grow red and bare; they can not hold the rain and mist, and the streams are dry …” The symbolic redness of the earth signifies blood; a land formed in the bloodshed of war; a country bleeding in distress at the degradation of her people.

A simple country priest, Stephen Kumalo, lives this degradation; everywhere, his small town of Ndotsheni is dying. The traditional people is disintegrating, the chief an useless figurehead, and the genuine power replaced with the white guy’s authority: Christianity. The town is made of “old men and old females, of mothers and kids,” because the able-bodied youth are leaving. “The maize hardly reaches the height of a male …” Kumalo laments, constantly saying more than simply words. Food becomes scarcer as the land grows sicker, and with no food in the backwoods, the native individuals leave their ancestral homes and travel to what they believe is opportunity: the great city of Johannesburg. It exists that utter ethical corruption sets in, for those who go to Johannesburg “never ever returned.”

Stephen Kumalo experiences this knowledge first-hand, through his sis, Gertrude, who left to discover her other half who also never returned from the city, and his own son, Absalom, who went searching for work and eventually just stopped writing. With the arrival of a mysterious letter speaking of Gertrude’s desperate requirement for help, Kumalo launches a quest to Johannesburg hoping to discover the location and situation of his lost family.

A naive guy, he is shocked by what he discovers there, and how the city has betrayed the native individuals into depravity. Illegal alcohol, prostitution, thievery, and even murder are plentiful among the locals in the agonizing cesspool of Johannesburg. Yet even through this, Kumalo is able to find a friend in a fellow priest Msimangu, and together they start to search for the remnants of the old man’s kin. Gertrude, to his dismay, has actually ended up being no exception to this rule: she is a prostitute, selling her body for cash, due to the fact that she has no other means by which to support herself and her boy. Upon discovery, nevertheless, she right away repents her sinful ways, providing Kumalo hope that possibly Absalom, too, will see the light when discovered. But his child is not found, not at least, up until it is too late. Backtracking Absalom’s steps, the senior priest is challenged by the frightening realities of the city’s wretchedness: he explores junkyard “Shanty Towns” where the unemployed live in pitiful homes made from scraps of tin, and through crowded rent-houses filled with prostitutes, thieves, and frightened people. Worry pervades throughout this first part of the novel; whites scared of the blacks, blacks afraid of the whites, and blacks even scared of each other. It remains in desperate fear that Kumalo lastly finds his kid. Absalom, a previous wrongdoer of petty criminal activities, has actually finally committed the best sin of all: murder, paradoxically, the murder of a white man most committed to helping the impoverished blacks, Arthur Jarvis. The grief-stricken priest needs to discover a lawyer for his child and get ready for the possibility of the death sentence if Absalom were to be founded guilty. The trial is filled with injustice, from small representations of early apartheid, such as different seating areas for whites and blacks, to the real results of the case: Absalom Kumalo is sentenced to death, although the murder was unintended, a robbery gone bad, and Absalom had fired “just out of fear.” At any other time period, murder without malice would have been restricted to a sentence of murder. The author makes it clear that probably, the unreasonable sentence was due to the reality that with apartheid, a black man killing a white man deserves none however the ultimate penalty.

However with death comes renewal. Kumalo can just take some delight that his child’s girlfriend is with child, and excitedly wishes to return to Ndotsheni with Kumalo, far from the perversions of the city. This coming kid, in addition to Gertrude’s kid, offers the reader a first peek of hope in the more youthful generation; rather of leaving the village to go to the city and be damaged, children from the city are returning to their homelands and back to morality.

Book II opens with a description similar to the opening of the novel explaining Ndotsheni: “there is a charming road that runs from Ixopo into the hills.” Nevertheless, this is where the resemblance ends. This description moves not from the hills into the barren valleys, but rather up “on the tops,” where “the grass is abundant and matted,” and there is “one of the finest farms of (the) countryside.” It is called High Place, where the daddy of Arthur Jarvis, James, coincidentally lives, literally next-door neighbors with the starving village of Ndotsheni.

James Jarvis plays a significantly crucial role by the end of Books II and III, as his relationship with the Zulu pastor ends up being more detailed, united by the shared regard of having both, in one way or another, lost a kid. Ironically, it is only through Arthur Jarvis’ death, that James Jarvis, upon perusal of his son’s manuscripts on native criminal activity, starts to question his own views on “the native question.” The elder Jarvis, having actually never ever before taken his child very seriously, feels a quiet responsibility to his boy’s memory to comprehend what he believed in. He checks out Abraham Lincoln, the “fantastic emancipator,” who freed the black slaves in America practically a century earlier. He likewise checks out the lots of articles his son wrote, and about the activist companies Arthur was a part of, and sensations of forgiveness start to replace the hatred in his heart. Throughout the novel and with his child’s death, James Jarvis is faced with a crossroads: he could take the course of vengeance and for that reason destruction; or, the path of forgiveness, making something positive out of such a catastrophe. Jarvis picks forgiveness, and hence begins the repair, in some small method, of South Africa.

In Johannesburg, Jarvis contributes a big quantity of money to his child’s preferred structure, dedicated to assisting the black population. Back in Ndotsheni, Jarvis recognizes why infertility swallows up the land, that is, the Zulus do not have the farming knowledge to correctly farm, being a naturally nomadic people. He immediately hires a well-informed farming trainer, to teach individuals how to farm. This is a primary step towards restoring the people, as now with food and operate in the fields, the youth can stay with their households. He promises a brand-new church, reaffirming the role of faith and spirituality in the villager’s lives.

Near completion of the unique, Arthur Jarvis’ boy, staying with his grandpa, comes to check out and “talk Zulu” with Stephen Kumalo. The young boy, hearing that the kids are sick since they have no milk to consume, flights away and milk is delivered the next day to the dying children, conserving numerous lives. The boy represents the wish for the more youthful white generation. He is interested in Zulu culture, not damaging it, and really appreciates the welfare of the black kids. He is clearly his father’s child.

The final scene of the unique symbolically shows fertility and renewal returning to the land, through the different colors of Africa joining together and accomplishing an ultimate excellent in the face of destruction. The titihoya, a rare bird who weeps just in fertile areas, awakens and flies. Light and dark imagery contrast, with light representing knowledge and awakening: “Yes, it is dawn that has come, as it has actually come for a thousand centuries, never failing. Ndotsheni is still in darkness, but it will come there also.” The dawn likewise represents a dawn of a brand-new age, impressing upon the reader that peace is possible with overall love and forgiveness, however when, “why, that is a secret.”

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