Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton
Length: 1332 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)
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Social Protest Cry the Beloved Country was a book written to bring about change. Through out the book Alan Paton reveal the social injustices of South Africa. This whole book, although a fictional stories, is to protest of the ways of South Africa. Paton brings up the inequity of the natives’ verses the whites; he makes points about education, superiority, and separation. Paton clearly showed that the white man is superiority to the black, he gives numerous examples throughout the novel. The white man had more money, a better job, a nicer house… With James Jarvis, Paton showed that he was superior by making him live on high place, because he was so much superior than the natives that lived below him. At the end of the book James Jarvis (even though he had changed) could not get off his horse to talk to Steven Kumalo. He could have easily gotten off but "such a thing is not lightly done" (307). Paton includes this part in the novel to show that the white man can be amicable with the natives, but they will always have to come out on top. The whites needed to feel like they were on a higher level than the natives. If this country ever wants to be as one the whites are going to have to give up there need for superiority. Many times in the novel Paton showed there was a problem without even saying it. One of the major examples of that would be when he gave the scene of people asking "Have you a room to let?" and the response would always be "no I have no room to let"(85). Paton dosent outright say that its horrible that there is not even enough housing for the natives and they have to cram together in shared houses with no privicy at all. He just tells us the story and the reader recognize that there is a problem. Paton offten leves it up to the reader to figure out the social injustices of South Africa. When Kumalo was talking about his son Absolam he said "he is in prison for the most terrible deed a man can do, He killed a white man" (144). Here Paton shows, again, how whites were considered to be superior to blacks. It could have been said the worst thing to do is kill a man, but in South Africa’s society it was not the same if a black man was murdered as compared to a white man.
The white mans life held more value, this can almost be compaired to how in our society if a homeless person was murdered it would not even be close to a big deal as a father of two being murdered. When Arthur died it made front page news and a big deal was made that a native person murdered him. Would it have been a huge ordeal if a white man murdered him? No, it wouldn’t be made that big of a deal because it would have been bad press. The reason Arthur’s death was front-page material was because he was murdered by a native which shows that they are all savages and don’t care about the law. It’s very ironic that the white man Absolam kills is Arthur Jarvis who is one of the few people in South Africa who fought for the natives. Arthur Jarvis was Patons way of protesting because Arthur is the ideal South African citizen in Paton’s mind. Arthur was fair to everyone and believed that the natives should be treated equal. Arthur learned their languages, in doing so he put himself at their level, he did not make himself higher. Arthur’s child was the next generation of the ideal citizen, he would tilt his hat to Kumalo, take his shoes off when going in his house, and this little boy even started to learn Zulu. Also like his father he helped the natives by given milk to the children. Paton added these characters to show what a person can do to break the gaps between natives a whites. The biggest problem in South Africa was the education level of the natives. As Arthur wrote how "it’s not permissible to keep men unskilled for the sake of unskilled workers" (178). It is so apparent that all the problems in South Africa can be traced back to the lack of education for the natives. If the natives were given the opportunity to go to school many would have better jobs. Which would mean that they would have more money to support their families and they would have a place to live. Not only would education lessen the huge social gap between the natives and whites it would also make communication between the groups feasible. The failure of the natives strike can be accredited to lack of education. The natives were not smart enough to put on an effective strike. On the other hand the whites always knew how to handle the problems when they arise. If the lack of education continues the natives could never get what they wanted because they are to weak. When it was said, "all is quiet" it was just a scam by the white man because when they printed that they knew the natives would read that and assumes that their strike is over, even though "nothing is ever quiet, except for fools". The whites all assumed that all the natives were criminals who would do anything for money. This characterization is somewhat true, a lot of natives stole but whose fault is it? The white man is to blame; they are the ones who are paying the natives next to nothing, which makes them unable to provide for their families. When someone hasn’t ate in two days they are going to steal because they are hungry, not because they are immoral criminals. What does the white man expect? It is the white man who employs these guys at the mine and makes them live in compound away from from their family. The white man created these broken homes with no father and knew that it would destroy families, but did that stop them. They did not care about the natives families the only time they would care was when it affected them. So when crime started from the natives started to affect them they came up with these great plans to make all natives have a pass to go into certain areas and they said the natives needed more recreational centers. They came up with many great ideas but none of them dealt with the real issue. They could eventually make crime lower among the natives if the educated them. The natives would have better jobs with better pay and they would be able to communicate with the whites. The reason this will never happen is because the greed of the white man, they would never give up their profit to pay natives better nor would they give up their power and let the natives be equal to them. Education is culpable for the problems of South Africa. If education were offered to natives many of the problems would disappear. The results would not be immediate but with time the problem could be fixed. There would still be prejudice feelings from the whites but at least the natives would have the opportunity to live descent lives. This book made people from many different countries realize the injustices of South Africa. Paton wrote this novel with the objective to bring about change. This novel was used as a social protest against South Africa, yet Paton didn’t just point out all the problems with South Africa but instead he offers solutions. Paton knew that South Africa could change but only when "white men and black men desiring neither power or money, but desiring only the good of their country come together and work for it". Paton gives us the perfect outline to bring about change.