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Fear and Redemption in Cry the Beloved Country
Fear grips all black societies and is widespread not only for black people but also white people. An unborn child will inherit this fear and will be deprived of loving and relishing his country because the greater he loves his country the greater will be his pain. Paton shows us this throughout this book but at the same time he also offers deliverance from this pain. This, I believe is the greater purpose of this book.
When Stephen goes to Johannesburg he has a childlike fear for "the great city" Johannesburg. Khumalo's fears of his family are exactly the same as every other black person in South Africa. In the train he is afraid of living in a world not made for him. He opens his bible and starts reading it, this is one of Khumalo's great sources of alleviation. Gertrude is frightened that her life will now be exposed to her brother who is a priest. She is redeemed from this fear when she prays with Stephen. Stephen experiences great pain and fear during his search for Absalom, Msimangu comforts him, he gains comfort when plays with Gertrude's son, when he thinks of Ndotsheni, his wife and of rebuilding his home it consoles him.
We also learn of white people's fear of native crime in the city. Absalom's girlfriend is afraid that he has deserted her. She gains comfort from Stephen. In his own pain and suffering he has the ability to comfort her, this is one of Stephen's admirable qualities. When Stephen realises that the police are searching for Absalom, he starts trembling and turns cold with fear. Msimangu and his bible comfort him. Msimangu takes him to Ezenzeleni where he is spiritually uplifted.
When Absalom is asked why did he shoot Arthur he says that he was afraid. Msimangu, Mrs Lithebe, Mr Carmicheal and Father Vincent ease Stephens fear of Absalom's case and expenses in Johannesburg. This is very comforting for Stephen, we remember Mrs Lithebe's words "for what else are we born" and there are some white men who do care. We also learn of James Jarvis's (he was a British white) suffering and fear, he is comforted by an Afrikaner policeman who went out of his way to help him, he is also comforted when he reads Arthur's manuscripts.
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