Cry The Beloved Country Analysis

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Cry, The Beloved Country-Alan Paton-Response Daniel Renfrey

Cry, The Beloved Country is set in South Africa during the late 1940s, just after World War II, and at the beginning of Apartheid, which was when racial discrimination was in South Africa was in full bore. The three most important and interesting settings in the novel are; Ndotsheni, a remote village in which the protagonist, Reverend Stephen Kumalo and his wife live, Johannesburg, where Stephen goes to find his son and sister, and the farm of High Place.

The first couple chapters of the novel are set in Ndotsheni. The book starts off by describing the beautiful valley where Ndotsheni is situated. However, the land in Ndotsheni is corroding. As Ndotsheni is primarily a farming village, the poor soil and drought can cause some crops such as maize to “grow barely to the height of a man.” Paton describes the green hills of Ndotsheni slowly turning into something a lot less healthy and beautiful. They fall to the valley below, and falling, change their nature. For they grow red and bare. Too many cattle feed upon the grass, and too many fires have burned it.” This quotation from Paton conveys the effects that the drought is having on the village.

Because the soil is so poor and the village is slightly overpopulated, more and more young people are moving to Johannesburg in order to find a job. As a result, the village is filled predominantly with older people and lacks life. There is one church available in Ndotsheni (before James Jarvis builds a new one at the end of the novel), and even though it is old and run down, it does the job, like many people of the older population of the village.

Despite all of this negativi...

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... that hard to follow and the descriptions of the villages and Johannesburg are very deep. This descriptive writing creates beautiful and not so beautiful imagery of South Africa and in turn helps the reader to understand the themes and message of the novel. The careful characterisation used by Paton also helps the readers to develop their own ideas about South Africa in this time and to connect to the characters emotionally.

Style of narration
The novel is narrated by a general voice, which shows that it is written in third person.

“They walked till they came to Claremont and Kumalo was shocked by its shabbiness and dirtiness, and the closeness of the houses and the filth in the streets.”

Worlds such as “they” and the narrator’s naming of “Kumalo” found in these direct quotations from the novel are examples of third person writing.

Word Count: 3,300 words
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