Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

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Cry the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton is a novel inspired by the industrial revolution. Paton describes in detail the conditions in which the Africans were living during this time period, 1946. This story tells about a Zulu pastor who goes into the city in search of his son and siblings who left in search of a better life. The pastor sees this immense city where a ruling white group is oppressing the black population. This novel is more than just a story, but it depicts the effects imperialism and the Industrial Revolution had on South Africa. Although the government has intervened to protect the people, some of these effects are still present in our societies. The setting begins in a small village in South Africa where Reverend Stephen Kumalo receives a letter asking him to go to Johannesburg to help his ill sister. Kumalo gets together all their savings and takes a train hoping to find not only his sister but also his son who left and never returned. In the city he finds the pastor who sent this letter who welcomes him and helps him find his sister. To his surprise, his sister was not ill but instead she had become a prostitute and was selling liquor. After persuading her to come back to the village with her son, she helps him find their brother, John. John has become a successful businessman and politician, and he directs them to the factory where his son and Absalom once worked together. After tracking him down from place to place, Kumalo finally discovers that his son has spent time in a reformatory and that he has gotten a girl pregnant. Absalom is later arrested for the murder of Arthur Jarvis, a important white crusader for racial justice. Despite Kumalo’s attempt to help his son, Absalom is sentenced to death. He claims it was unintentional and had help from John Kumalo’s son. Reverend Kumalo then arranges for his son to marry the girl he had gotten pregnant and for her to come back with him. In addition, he meets with Arthur Jarvis’s father, and together they grieve for the death of their sons. Eventually Kumalo goes home with his new daughter-in-law, and Jarvis gets involved helping him keep his village together; he helps with agricultural techniques and offers to build the congregation a new church. The novel ends as Kumalo weeps over his son’s death on the valley, awaiting his execution.

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