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A review of cry the beloved country by alan paton

  1. It was a great book, Paton took a tragedy and made it into a lesson on life that every individual can relate to. Apartheid was instituted only four months after book was published.
  2. The silence of the disempowered should never be mistaken for complaisance.
  3. This is a time where racial discrimination is at an all time high.

But as a first-time reader of the novel, it left an indelible impression. Stephen decides to go to the city and look for many people in his tribe who have gone but never returned, including his own son. The city is a strange place for simple tribal priest. But the Reverend Msimangu is a good man who helps Stephen find his way around and locate missing family members. He first finds his sister Gertrude who has fallen to alcohol and prostitution. She has a child who is unkempt and neglected.

He takes them both to his boarding house, intent on bringing them both back home to the village to heal. He also finds his brother who has a new religion: He has been rallying the natives to fight back against exploitation of the miners and unfair wages. His words are dangerous and he is seen as a threat. But Stephen is most anxious to find his son and the reverend helps him follow the trail from one lead to another.

He is disappointed in what he finds.

  • While reading the pages, begin to envision Johannesburg being a polluted, very unkind, and rushed city;
  • As I stated it takes place in South Africa, 1946.

His son had impregnated a young girl, had been incarcerated in a rehabilitation program, and then released only to disappear. The trail grows cold until a massive story breaks and Stephen Kumalo has a bad, sinking feeling.

A white man had been murdered by a native. Not any white man, but Arthur Jarvis, an outspoken political activist against apartheid. The native crime was already out of control and people feared the blacks tremendously.

Arthur Jarvis blamed black crime on social injustice and lack of education and opportunities, something most whites did not want to hear. So when is he killed by a black man, apartheid is defended and the black community is in severe distress. Stephen Kumalo fears that the perpetrator is his son. Days later, his son Absalom, consumed with guilt, confesses when he is approached by law enforcement.

See a Problem?

Worse still, Stephen Kumalo realizes that the man killed is the son of his white neighbor, James Jarvis, in the small farming community where he lives. Both Stephen and James follow a transformative path. Stephen loses his faith, but it is regained through the kindness he sees in people. James, even though he loses his son to black crime, begins to study what his son had written. Fear is a journey, a terrible journey, but sorrow is at least an arriving.

It was chosen by my book club, and for that I am thankful.

  1. So when is he killed by a black man, apartheid is defended and the black community is in severe distress.
  2. The story begins, as many great stories have begun, with a solitary man taking a long and dangerous journey to a distant land.
  3. The silence of the disempowered should never be mistaken for complaisance. Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic tale, passionately African, timeless and universal, and beyond all, selfless.
  4. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give to much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. So when is he killed by a black man, apartheid is defended and the black community is in severe distress.
  5. This novel is so rich, so adept in describing the sorrow of mankind, the frustration, the incredible sadness of life in a torn world, that it will draw you in, capture you in a way you never believed possible, in a way you will remember long after you turn the last page.

My trusty book club always gets me to read outside of my preferred reading corner, and pushes me into important books that might gasp! And that is a good thing.

  • The reason he was so important, through out all the trials that he faced he never once buckled and he never once question why it was him and not someone else;
  • Kumalo was a main element in the plot;
  • Cry, the Beloved Country is a solid historical fiction with very real injustice;
  • With the author being white, there are some things I noted that might be found offensive to others.

I have never before read a book on South Africa or apartheid. It was an eye-opening experience, an incredibly emotional read, and it provided a small window — a small glimpse — into a world of injustice I would otherwise never know. The author of Cry, The Beloved Country is a white man from South Africa, and when the book was published it was an enormous success.

Cry, the Beloved Country

However, it was banned in his home country of South Africa. The style of writing is set to mimic that of the New King James Version Bible and there are a lot of biblical references.

Cry the Beloved Country

This is a Christian book with Christian themes such as forgiveness, atonement, and faith. With the author being white, there are some things I noted that might be found offensive to others. They are shown to be completely incompatible with western civilization, big cities, and temptation. Only a very small amount of land, about ten percent, was given to the native population.

Before the encroachment and development of cities and agricultural land, the Zulu had the freedom of space to roam and tend to their cattle. Being pushed into a small piece of land and surrounded by modern agriculture, their land was dying.

Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton Book Review

But the promise of opportunity was false. The workers were exploited, paid slave wages, and crime exploded. Although the society in Johannesburg was rife with racism and apartheid, it was heart-warming to see so much kindness between people, both black and white. For example, there was a bus strike. The natives were refusing to ride the bus because of the rising cost, and so they would walk great distances.

  • For the modern reader there is much in Cry, the Beloved Country to cringe at, despite the fact that at its time of publication it was unquestionably very progressive;
  • They both had strong beliefs, were set in their ways, and neither one understood their sons;
  • Lines like, "It was not his habit to dwell on what could have been, but what could never be.

In a book filled with so much pain, the brief respite of random kindness was needed. I should have read this long ago. Cry, the Beloved Country is a solid historical fiction with very real injustice.