New Criticism of Cry, the Beloved Country

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New Criticism of Cry, the Beloved Country

Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton can be effectively analyzed using the theory of New Criticism. When beginning to look at the text one must remember not to any attempt to look at the author’s relationship to the work, which is called "intentional fallacy" or make any attempt to look at the reader’s response to the work, which is called the "affective fallacy." First, the central theme of the book must be recognized. In this book the central thematic issue is separation and segregation, that there will always be major problems in society when race or skin color segregates people. This central theme can be seen in every place the characters travel and also in their daily activities. Next, the tone of the book must be identified. The tone throughout the book can be identified as hopeful and also fearful. The balancing tones of hopeful and fearful help balance the central theme. There is a sense that human beings are capable of change and thus one day all people will become equal. No matter how badly things may be, the tone implies that there is still great hope. The hopeful tone implies that even though segregation and separation is a grim and depressing, there is hope for the future because, if a couple people are capable of change, so is a whole country. The fearful tone implies that South African’s are afraid of what has happened in their country and what may happen. Fear can be seen everywhere, in the land, actions of the people, and they speech of people. These balancing tones are continued throughout the book and serves to balance the outlining themes with the central theme.

The next step in applying New Criticism is to examine some of the outlining themes to deter...

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...the central theme. In this manner, the book follows the central unifying theme. The themes found in this book are not complex though. They are simple themes that do not require a lot of examination. Therefore, through the lens of New Criticism the book was an above average book that had many paradoxes and irony, a well-supported central theme, but its fault lied in the fact that the outlining theme were not complex. .

Works Cited

Davis, Robert Con and Ronald Schleifer. Contemporary Literary Criticism: Literary and Cultural Studies. Longman press, New York: 1989.

Young, R.V. The Old New Criticism and its Critics. First Things, issue 35. P38-34. August 1993.


The New Criticism.

Discovering Authors. John Crowe Ransom. Gale Research Inc. 1996
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