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Cry, The Beloved Country
Transcript of Cry, The Beloved Country
The Land and People of South Africa, 1955
South Africa in Transition, 1956. Stephen Kumalo Main character of the story. A pastor who takes his relationship with God and the state of South Africa very seriously. He sees that the poverty, injustice, and lack of morality in his country is threatening to become irreversible. John Kumalo Stephen Kumalo's younger brother. He moved to Johannesburg and now owns a successful carpenter's shop. Though he speaks out for justice for the 'natives' he is also afraid. He loves his money and power, loves that people will listen to him, but knows that if he says anything too controversial he will be put in prison. Absalom Kumalo Stephen Kumalo's only child. He went to Johannesburg to find Stephen's sister, but never returned or even wrote to his parents. When Stephen finds him, he has been thrown out of several houses for bad behavior, spent time in a reformatory, gotten a young girl pregnant, and, just when he seemed to be turning his life around, robbed and murdered a kind, well-respected white man. Theophilus Msimangu Stephen's greatest friend in the novel. He is the one who informs Stephen of his sister's immoral life in Johannesburg, finds him a place to stay there, and goes to great lengths to help him find his son. Setting
The Mission House Shanty Town Background Cry, The Beloved Country was written before the implementation of the apartheid political system in South Africa. The novel was published in 1948, with apartheid becoming law later that same year.
It enjoyed critical success around the world, except in South Africa, where it was banned, due to its politically contentious material. The book sold over 15 million copies around the world before Paton's death. Chapter 1 first describing the intense natural beauty of this rural South African landscape, then hinting that, when one enters the hills, the beauty breaks down. The fields are overworked, and there is famine and drought. Chapter 2 A small child in the village runs to the pastor's house, holding a letter to deliver to him. The Reverend, Stephen Kumalo, welcomes her into his home, receiving the letter then kindly telling her to ask his wife for some food. He is reluctant to open the letter. It is from Johannesburg, where three of his close relatives have gone, never to be heard from again. Chapter 3 Kumalo waits for the train to Johannesburg. Though this can be enjoyable-the countryside is beautiful, and the train is an interesting novelty-Stephen is preoccupied. He knows of someone who was killed in traffic there. He waits for a train with a friend, who timidly asks him for a favor on behalf of a man named Sibeko. Kumalo asks why Sibeko did not ask Kumalo for the favor himself, and his friend replies that Sibeko is not of their church, so he was embarrassed. Chapter 4 The journey continues, and Kumalo looks out on a wonderful, destroyed, and frightening landscape. He sees beautiful hills, and dry, lifeless soil, and huge gold mines where many of the poor natives live. He sees bigger and bigger towns, each time thinking they must be Johannesburg, but the other people on the bus laugh at him: Johannesburg is far bigger, they say. When they finally get there, Kumalo is terrified. The city is huge, and the countless neon lights are too much for him to understand. He cannot figure out how to cross the street. Kumalo has been cheated by a young man.