Many debates have been sparked by Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country. Even the essence of the book's title examines South Africa and declares the presence of the inner conflict of its citizens. The importance and meaning of the title of Cry, the Beloved Country is visible in Paton's efforts to link the reader to forthcoming ideas in the novel, Paton's description of South Africa's problems, and Paton's prayer for the solution of South Africa's difficulties with race and racial oppression.
One way Paton connects the reader to the racial tension in the novel is through the repetition of the thematic title throughout key events in the novel. Paton often uses the wording of the title within the text to express the pain inflicted by South Africa's moral conflict, racial segregation and oppression. Paton uses the repetition to connect events in the story with the overall theme, altering the context slightly each time. At one point, Paton expresses the anguish of the broken African society and the transformation and assimilation into a white man's society of hatred and separation. Paton pleads, "Cry for the broken tribe, for the law and the custom that is gone. Aye, and cry aloud for the man who is dead, for the woman and children bereaved. Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end" (Paton 73-74). By creating links between major events and minor characters, Paton's repetition slowly delves into one's mind and leaves the indelible mark of a quest for liberty and freedom so that one again views the title, it is as if one sees the cover for the first time, and one realizes how much is held in the few words of "cry, the beloved cou...
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...nt, and its rebirth."
Through the creation of a parallel with the reader, an in-depth study of South Africa's difficulties, and a strong hope for the solution of racial segregation, one discovers the true meaning of Cry, the Beloved Country. One discovers Alan Paton's gift of expression through the telling of a man's epic journey through life, a man who finally discovers the meaning of love and loss, though he leaves nothing but footprints in the blowing sand. Each day, in every part of the world, one more person learns to live and to love, to feel from the bottom of one's heart for a land so beautiful that no words can describe the attraction for fear it will appear fickle. After all, "It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
Paton, Alan. Cry, the Beloved Country. New York: Macmillan, 1987
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