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Cry the Beloved Country

Alan Paton

❶As the land becomes divided and eroded, so, too, do the people who live on it.

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Critical Evaluation

The language of the book reflects the Bible; furthermore, several characters and episodes are reminiscent of stories from the New Testament and teachings of Christ. Thus, Alan Paton, as a reformer and the author of "Cry, the Beloved Country", gives the people of South Africa a new, modern Bible, where he, like Christ, teaches to "love thy brother as yourself" in order to help whites and blacks overcome the fear and misunderstanding of each other.

The language of the book from the very beginning reveals its biblical nature. Ndotcheni is still in darkness, but the light will come there also. This style is used to represent speech or thoughts "translated" from Zulu. Jesus Christ is symbolized by the figure of Arthur Jarvis. He is a white reformer who fights for rights of blacks. Like Christ, he is very altruistic and wants to pursue his aims at all costs. His friend, Harrison, says: Absalom only intends to rob Arthur Jarvis, and the homicide is unintentional.

Absalom thinks that Arthur Jarvis is out and comes into the house with two friends. However, when Arthur Jarvis "heard a noise, and came down to investigate" Startled and afraid, Absalom fires blindly.

Absalom later says in court: I fired the revolver. In his room, there are pictures "of Christ crucified and Abraham Lincoln" , the two men who fought for human love and compassion and were killed because of their beliefs. Arthur Jarvis can be identified with Jesus Christ. The old world of ritual and tribal adherence, of respect for the chief, and of tradition has been destroyed, but nothing has been offered in its place. The white man has disrupted the old ways but refuses to accept the native in the new world.

Currently the natives live in an unstructured world where there are no values and no order to adhere to. This idea is represented in the novel by Absalom and Gertrude, who lose their old values and become part of the lawless life in Johannesburg. The damaging result of this change is fear. As soon as the tribe is broken, the people live in fear because they have no place to turn. Some white spokesmen recognize this fact. Arthur Jarvis was working on plans that would give the native a sense of direction and worth, but his life was cut short by the very forces that he was working to improve.

The novel is not only a study of social problems but also a study in human relationships. Kumalo, interested at first only in reuniting his own family, comes to understand the greater problems facing his race. In such a novel as this, the absorbing social message must be realized by vivid, human characters in order to make the theme memorable.

Many of the ideas of the novel are presented through the suffering of Kumalo. He notes that city life leads to a demoralized lifestyle of poverty and crime for the natives. Even the Reverend Theophilus Msimangu, a priest who offers his assistance to Kumalo, believes that this disintegration of social values cannot be mended.

As the land becomes divided and eroded, so, too, do the people who live on it. Because James Jarvis and Kumalo reach a shared responsibility for their actions and thoughts as they attempt to understand the loss of their sons, Alan Paton believes that the country of South Africa has hope for restoration of its values and order in its new generation, especially in the sons of Arthur Jarvis and Absalom Kumalo.

Cry, the Beloved Country is structured in three sections. Book 1 points to the erosion of the land as the people leave their native soil. This section focuses on the native soil of the blacks, Kumalo in particular. It is difficult to maintain the beauty and fertility of the land when the tribal natives head for the promises of the city. The land, then, stands desolate. This deterioration is further illustrated in the shantytowns dishearteningly discovered by Kumalo as he enters Johannesburg.

The opening lines are repeated in chapter 18, which begins book 2. The land is not depleted, but well tended.

The openness and vitality of the land offer a sheer contrast to the depiction contained in book 1.

by Alan Paton

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- Cry the Beloved Country Cry the beloved country, by Alan Paton, is a book which tells the story of how James Jarvis, a wealthy estate owner who, because of his own busy life, had to learn of the social degradation in south Africa through the death of his only son.

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Cry, the Beloved Country literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Cry, the Beloved Country.

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Starting an essay on Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country? Organize your thoughts and more at our handy-dandy Shmoop Writing Lab. Critical Essays Significance of Cry, the Beloved Country Bookmark this page Manage My Reading List The old world of ritual and tribal adherence, of respect for the chief, and of tradition has been destroyed, but nothing has been offered in its place.

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Cry, the Beloved Country The book "Cry, the Beloved Country" by Alan Paton is a book about agitation and turmoil of both whites and blacks over the white segregation policy called apartheid.4/4(1). Cry, the Beloved Country In a country torn by segregation and hatred, one man seeks to rebuild his family and his tribe.