Inevitability of Change Revealed in Cry, the Beloved Country
Things grow old and die. Change is inevitable: a candle will eventually burn out, trees will fall to the ground, and mountains will crumble to the sea. This inescapable process is clearly illustrated by the character Stephen Kumalo in the book Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton. The Kumalo seen in the beginning of the book is a completely different person from what he is in the end. He is initially very kind and caring, but by the end of the book, he is a far less naïve person, one who is able to lie even to his own brother. The events that transpire and the changes they cause in the protagonist, Stephen Kumalo, clearly show that Cry, the Beloved Country is a book concerned with the effect external events can have on a man caught in the middle of them.
The book begins in a small South African village called Ndotsheni, where Kumalo is the pastor of the only church. Like all pastors, Kumalo is a kind, religious, tolerant, and caring man. In chapter 2, very early on, Kumalo is demonstrably very conscious of other people’s feelings, as is shown by what he says to his wife:
I am sorry I hurt you, he said. I shall go and pray in the church. (p. 10)
When he gets into an argument with his wife and unintentionally hurts her feelings, he is quick to apologize and, as an attempt to make up for what he has done, goes into the church and presumably begs the Lord for forgiveness. Only a man with true compassion and love would go to such great lengths to make up for a wrong.
In chapter 4 of Cry, the Beloved Country, Kumalo makes a journey ...
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...g of the book.
Kumalo never would have considered, even for a moment, lying or hurting anyone or anything before he came to Johannesburg. During his stay there, he is transformed from a gentle minister to a deceiving, insecure, hateful, frightened man. The reasons for this change are not because of him, but because of things that happened to him and around him, and were completely out of his control. Had his sister not been in need of help, he surely would never have gone to Johannesburg, but he could not hope to have prevented his sister’s illness when he knew nothing of it until it had already happened. The subsequent events cause changes in Kumalo that he could not have foreseen or prevented, nor could anyone else in his position. Change, welcome or not, will come to everyone and everything
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