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Cry the Beloved Country

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Ellen Yates

on 26 January 2015

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Transcript of Cry the Beloved Country

Cry The Beloved Country

Alan Paton


1940's South Africa

Personal rating: 4/5
Essential Questions
1. Why would Alan Paton, a white South African, be influenced to write this story with mainly black protagonists?

2. What is the effect of powerlessness on a people, and how is this portrayed in the book?

3. What does Kamalu's reaction to what he witnesses in Johannesburg show about his beliefs and the societal norms at that time?

Thoughts on Question #1
The story is set in South Africa amidst the turmoil of the Apartheid, and the conflict between Zulu and Afrikaner - black and white - is at its height. Caught in the struggle is a native pastor, Kumalu, from a simple, rural village who, in search of his son and sister, makes the arduous journey to Johannesburg, where many go but never return. There, a series of adverse events permanently bond him to another man of God - a white one - and an unlikely companionship emerges from the most devastating circumstances. The novel proves to be an incredible story of prejudice, conviction, forgiveness, and grace.
A Book "Talk" by Ellen Yates
Cry the Beloved Country
The novel is poignantly written with incredible depth and a sincerity that seems lacking in much of our writing today. It's extraordinarily thought-provoking and contemplative in its study of prejudice and morality, and the price of forgiveness. It is poetically written, and the dialogue is at times irrelevant and bewildered, but this has the effect of drawing the reader into the story and placing him into the story. However, the book's serious tone and simple description lend it a few tedious qualities. Nevertheless, the overarching narrative is one of brilliance, for in its simplicity, the reader explores each event through Kumalu's perturbed fascination with circumstances and society he has been thrust into.
Who Should Read This Book?

If you prefer fast-paced page-turners or an action-packed plot line, then this book is not for you. However,
Cry the Beloved Country
is a stunning piece of literature that poignantly explores the bonds formed between people in the most unlikely circumstances. I would recommend it to anyone willing to accept the slower-pace in order to come away with a greater understanding of the prejudices of society, or who would simply like to learn about Apartheid South Africa from a narrative perspective.
Rating: 4/5
While the novel was both stunningly poignant and intriguing in its portrayal of humanity, I did not felt that description and dialogue bled together in a few parts, and the pure solemnity of the story does little captivate the reader until the story has significantly progressed. While not one of my all time favorite books, it will remain with me for a long time to come, and it does share numerous qualities with ones that I love. Exploration of human nature is a major theme in
Till We Have Faces
and To
Kill a Mockingbird,
as is reconciliation.
Cry The Beloved Country
bares some uncannily similar traits with
Things Fall Apart
. Both are heavily centered around the theme of conflict between simplicity and familiarity and the strangeness of progress brought by European colonizers. Both books also center around a broken father-son relationship, although Kumalu bears more of a resemblance to Nwoye, while his son exhibits characteristics much more similar to Okonkwo. In addition, the importance of societal roles are explored throughout both stories. Uncle Tom's Cabin had a similar societal effect, both enlightening the social circumstances, and condemning the forces which maintained them. A more biographical depiction Apartheid-era South Africa can be found in Nelson Mandela's
A Long Walk To Freedom
, which gives a broader, more expository description of
Cry the Beloved Country's
When one one witnesses an injustice, not even to the extent as those injustices which took place during the Apartheid, they often feel an obligation to document it out of necessity of conscience. Paton firmly condemned South Africa's anit-black policy at the time, and his novel was akin to Uncle Tom's Cabin in America, highlighting the extensive wrongs committed by the country's white government. "There is only one way in which one can endure man's inhumanity to man and that is to try, in one's own life, to exemplify man's humanity to man," Paton stated. His life reflected these convictions, as he spent much of it protesting the wrongs he saw committed against the black population.
“The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that things are not mended again.”
“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing. Nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him if he gives too much.”

“Sorrow is better than fear. Fear is a journey, a terrible journey, but sorrow is at least an arrival."
“The Judge does not make the law. It is people that make the law. Therefore if a law is unjust, and if the Judge judges according to the law, that is justice, even if it is not just.”
"All roads lead to Johannesburg."
Favorite Quotes:
Full transcript