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Detailed Study of Passage in Cry, the Beloved Country

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Detailed Study #2

Cry, the Beloved Country

In this passage, the author details the reactions of parents who receive letters about and from their son who is soon to be executed.

This extract contains three sections, all of about the same length. The first paragraph in the excerpt contains only one character, Stephen Kumalo, who has opened one of four letters which he has received and grieves over the news that his son will be hanged. He does so without speaking to anyone else, and fearfully. There are others mentioned though, such as his son Absalom, Misimangu, and Mr. Carmichael, who are all senders of the letters, along with his wife, whom speaks to him at the end of the paragraph. Two characters are present in the second paragraph, Stephen and his wife. They grieve together over the news of their son’s execution, speaking sparsely and only when needed. Kuluse’s child, the girl Elizabeth, and “him”, which refers to their son, are the only mentioned characters. The third paragraph is not a conventional paragraph of either dialogue or narrative, but one of the letters sent to the parents, specifically, the letter from their son.

The text is written in two voices, 1st person direct speech by two to parents who speak to each other, and 3rd person narrative. This narrative, throughout the passage, relates the speakers’ actions, and is vital because it enunciates the action’s of the characters. Since the majority of the action takes place inside the hearts and minds of the characters, these actions and the narrative must be scrupulously looked at to fully understand the importance of the passage. An example of two words that when looked at again, contribute to the graveness of the passage are “four letters” in the sentence...

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...nd speaks well to me.” The diction in this letter is one of selflessness, regret, and love to his parents, which are shown in subtle phrases especially in those of the last sentence such as “My dear mother and father”, “So I shall not see you or Ndotsheni again”, and “…If I were back [in Ndotsheni] I should not leave it again.” The postscript, though, displays an urgency which was not displayed previously. The author uses hurried questions to display this urgency. “Is the child born?... Have you heard of the case…? …Did you get the money?” are examples of these questions asked, and this postscript is very similar to a will, in which he tries to tidy up that which he leaves behind.

The responses of a mother and father who have received news through four letters that their son is to be executed is narrated by the author in this excerpt from Cry, the Beloved Country.
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