"Cry, the Beloved Country", by Alan Paton. Stimulates a Change

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, Undergraduate March 1997

download word file, 4 pages 3.0

Downloaded 71 times

The purpose of Cry, the Beloved Country, is to awaken the population of South Africa to the

racism that is slowly disintegrating the society and its people. Alan Paton designs his work to

express his views on the injustices and racial hatred that plague South Africa, in an attempt to

bring about change and understanding. The characters that he incorporates within his story, help

to establish a sense of the conditions and hardships that the country is experiencing, and the

presence of fear through the whole of the populace. Presenting the characters as having

one-sided personalities or by referring to them by a simple label, Paton indicates that these evils

are universal and fundamental within human nature.

As Stephen Kumalo searches for his son, Absalom, Paton has several events befall onto

Kumalo in order to represent the harsh society that many of the blacks live in. The first event

occurs when Kumalo arrives in Johannesburg, afraid from the stories that he has heard, he puts his

trust in another black man who appears to be of good intentions, but in reality cheats Kumalo of

his money.

This experience is unlike his time on the train, in which Kumalo had been treated with

immense respect. On the train he is aware of the respect that other blacks hold for him, because

he is a man of God, though, in the city, his social standing demonstrates little significance. This

may be taken as a sign that the idea of a God may be questioned or less acceptable to the people,

when they have positions in a society that are cruel and not beneficial.

Kumalo does find assistance when he asks for help from an older man, who kindly escorts him

to the Mission House. The contrast that Paton creates here is the...