Alan Paton's Cry, The Beloved Country

1224 words - 5 pages

“For it is the dawn that has come, as it has come for a thousand centuries, never failing. But when that dawn will come, of our emancipation, from the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear, why, that is a secret.” Alan Paton’s novel, Cry, the Beloved Country, can be understood as either a political novel or an artistic novel. Although this book involves political issues, the manor in which these concerns are conveyed throughout the story is quite artistic (as the above quote exemplifies), thus why I believe Paton’s novel, Cry, the Beloved Country, is an artistic novel. Alan Paton does not shy away from exposing the truth behind each character. Symbolisms within the characters’ personal qualities as well as their names add to the artistic essence of the novel. The characters are also shown to be real people struggling with real flaws. Paton does not conceal their bad qualities and only reveal the select ones to sway the reader’s opinion. Rather he writes in a way that allows for a deeper character development. This book artistically alludes to underlying issues of prejudice, poverty, and the struggles of the native people in South Africa in contrast to the lives of the white South Africans. Lastly, Paton uses metaphorical language to illuminate the struggles of his characters.
Paton artistically uses the vehicle of symbolism within the characters he creates. He does this by choosing foreshadowing names and prophetic character qualities in the people in his novel. Throughout this novel, Stephen Kumalo, a black religious leader, is portrayed as a caring man who loves others and loves the Lord. Although a man of God, Kumalo consistently needs forgiveness from the Lord because of his sinful nature. Evidence of this is seen when Kumalo purposely deceives Absolom’s wife-to-be into saying that she would marry Kumalo himself, choosing to show her that she was an ignorant young girl, rather than showing her love. Another example is when Kumalo purposely lies to his brother, John, about a spy who is telling John’s secrets, in order to lure John into becoming angry, wondering why someone would betray him. Kumalo then relates the spy to John’s son, Matthew, who deceitfully pleaded not guilty in the crime he took part in with Absolom. Kumalo’s untruthful scenario of a spy, was intended to hurt John in retaliation for Matthew’s treachery. Therefore, Stephen Kumalo can be symbolized as a man in the Bible named David. David was a known man of God, but he too struggled with his sinful ways; committing adultery, arranging the murder of his mistress’s husband, Uriah, and his sin of presumptuously taking a census, when God had forbidden it. The next example of Paton’s symbolism involves the foreshadowing in the name “Absolom.” In the Bible, Absolom, the son of David, is an evil man who met his death by hanging. This foreshadowing can be seen in Absolom, Kumalo’s son, who will commit a great evil, for which the penalty is death by hanging. ...

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