Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country

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“For it is the dawn that has come, as it has come for a thousand centuries, never failing. But when that dawn will come, of our emancipation, from the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear, why, that is a secret.” Alan Paton’s novel, Cry, the Beloved Country, can be understood as either a political novel or an artistic novel. Although this book involves political issues, the manor in which these concerns are conveyed throughout the story is quite artistic (as the above quote exemplifies), thus why I believe Paton’s novel, Cry, the Beloved Country, is an artistic novel. Alan Paton does not shy away from exposing the truth behind each character. Symbolisms within the characters’ personal qualities as well as their names add to the artistic essence of the novel. The characters are also shown to be real people struggling with real flaws. Paton does not conceal their bad qualities and only reveal the select ones to sway the reader’s opinion. Rather he writes in a way that allows for a deeper character development. This book artistically alludes to underlying issues of prejudice, poverty, and the struggles of the native people in South Africa in contrast to the lives of the white South Africans. Lastly, Paton uses metaphorical language to illuminate the struggles of his characters.

Paton artistically uses the vehicle of symbolism within the characters he creates. He does this by choosing foreshadowing names and prophetic character qualities in the people in his novel. Throughout this novel, Stephen Kumalo, a black religious leader, is portrayed as a caring man who loves others and loves the Lord. Although a man of God, Kumalo consistently needs forgiveness from the Lord because of his sinful nature. Evidence of this i...

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...st sentences in this novel are talking about how “dawn comes, and has come for thousands of centuries,” and that although the dawn of emancipation’s coming is still unknown, there is hope that it will indeed come. Some political suggestions to this are that the topic which is in the metaphor is related to the political issue of prejudice. Though this is true, the quote is formed by using metaphorical language that beautifully illustrates Paton’s point.

In closing, the artistic aspects of Cry, the Beloved Country thoroughly outweigh those of a political style. Just as the bible portrays flawed heroes, and villains who sometimes repent, Paton tells the stories of these political events in the same honest manner. Paton uses symbolism through characters, character development, contrasting of races, and metaphorical language to convey a beautifully artistic novel.
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