Racial Tensions, Religious Axiom, and Apartheid in Alan Paton's 'Cry, The Beloved Country'.

Essay by ladydernhelmHigh School, 12th gradeA+, May 2005

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"Cry, The Beloved Country"

Passion, love, despair, and the courage to look past a crime of unspeakable sorrow--all these themes and more encompass the beautiful South-African novel "Cry, The Beloved Country". The author, Alan Paton, through realistic dialogue and descriptive narrative images, allows the reader to truly feel the anguish and tragedy that is so inherent in his book. For one living in an entirely different time period and on a dramatically different continent it is especially difficult to enter into the heart of such a novel, but the characters, who are undoubtedly human, engage the reader's compassion and create a warmth that can neither be denied nor ignored.

The setting of the book is South Africa in 1948, and addresses the issue of the many years of disunity among the Africans and the political instabilities of the Dutch and English imperial powers. The main characters are Stephen Kumalo, a Zulu preacher from the innocent country town of Ndotsheni, and James Jarvis, a rich, white man of prominence who lives in the sprawling Ixopo valley.

These two men are forever linked on account of a crime of insurmountable gravity- a crime that takes the lives of two beloved only-sons to the grave. James Jarvis, whose son is renowned in his compassion for, and dedication to the improvement of the Negro, is shot to death in his Johannesburg home by Absalom Kumalo, the son of Stephen Kumalo. Now Kuamlo, who must deal with the certain execution of his son, comes head to head with Jarvis who takes bitterly the news of his son's death. Yet, in a time when the Native African is still savage in the eyes of a white man and a burden to their civilization, James Jarvis overcomes his hatred and extends his friendship and soul...



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