The purpose of Cry, the Beloved Country, is to awaken the population of
South Africa to the racism that is slowly disintegrating the society and its
people. Alan Paton designs his work to express his views on the injustices and
racial hatred that plague South Africa, in an attempt to bring about change and
understanding. The characters that he incorporates within his story, help to
establish a sense of the conditions and hardships that the country is
experiencing, and the presence of fear through the whole of the populace.
Presenting the characters as having one-sided personalities or by referring to
them by a simple label, Paton indicates that these evils are universal and
fundamental within human nature.
As Stephen Kumalo searches for his son, Absalom, Paton has several events
befall onto Kumalo in order to represent the harsh society that many of the
blacks live in. The first event occurs when Kumalo arrives in Johannesburg,
afraid from the stories that he has heard, he puts his trust in another black
man who appears to be of good intentions, but in reality cheats Kumalo of his
money. This experience is unlike his time on the train, in which Kumalo had
been treated with immense respect. On the train he is aware of the respect that
other blacks hold for him, because he is a man of God, though, in the city, his
social standing demonstrates little significance. This may be taken as a sign
that the idea of a God may be questioned or less acceptable to the people, when
they have positions in a society that are cruel and not beneficial.
Kumalo does find...
... middle of paper ...
...the healing of the dying land.
So in conclusion, Paton seeks to provoke a change in the conditions of the
society before the deterioration of the people will be beyond redemption. In
order to accomplish this, man must first rise above the generalities and hatred
that each race has for each other. This is a necessary step in order to advance
and create a harmony that will rebuild their country, and remove the segregation
that runs rampant throughout the community.
Alexander, Peter. "Man and manifesto." Times Higher Education Supplement,
August, 1994, 15-16.
Hogan, Patrick C. "Paternalism, Ideology, and Ideological Critique: Teaching
Cry, The Beloved Country." College Literature, October, 1992, 206.
Paton, Alan. Cry, the Beloved Country. New York: Collier, 1987.
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