"Cry, The Beloved Country", By Alan Paton. Stimulates A Change

1041 words - 4 pages

The purpose of Cry, the Beloved Country, is to awaken the population of South Africa to theracism that is slowly disintegrating the society and its people. Alan Paton designs his work toexpress his views on the injustices and racial hatred that plague South Africa, in an attempt tobring about change and understanding. The characters that he incorporates within his story, helpto establish a sense of the conditions and hardships that the country is experiencing, and thepresence of fear through the whole of the populace. Presenting the characters as havingone-sided personalities or by referring to them by a simple label, Paton indicates that these evilsare universal and fundamental within human nature.As Stephen Kumalo searches for his son, Absalom, Paton has several events befall ontoKumalo in order to represent the harsh society that many of the blacks live in. The first eventoccurs when Kumalo arrives in Johannesburg, afraid from the stories that he has heard, he puts histrust in another black man who appears to be of good intentions, but in reality cheats Kumalo ofhis money. This experience is unlike his time on the train, in which Kumalo had been treated withimmense respect. On the train he is aware of the respect that other blacks hold for him, becausehe is a man of God, though, in the city, his social standing demonstrates little significance. Thismay 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 himto the Mission House. The contrast that Paton creates here is the fact that not all blacks think withthe same purpose, a common characteristic of stereotypes, which Paton feels the people shouldrise above. He seeks to imply that judgement of a person should be based more on the content ofcharacter, rather than the general assumptions of a society. This is a requirement in his plan torestore a land that is slowly falling apart.The next character that is introduced is Kumalo's sister, Gertrude. As soon as she sees herbrother, she becomes engulfed by fear. She proclaims she wishes to return to Ndotsheni, but feelsunworthy because of what she has become. She agrees to go back to her homeland, but in theend, abandons Kumalo and her child. Kumalo's brother, John, is the next of his family to beconfronted. '[John] is corrupt and deceitful, and betrays his brother and nephew at the firstopportunity' (Hogan, 206). Msimangu, though, feels that if John were not corrupt, he would notsolve problems, but 'plunge this country into bloodshed' (Paton, 187). As a charismatic speaker,John has the ability to raise the blacks against the whites, but is too frightened to, fearing thepossible retaliation of the whites. Paton's description of these characters, denote their immoralnatures and the fear that exists within their lives, which he feels may be due to their...

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