New Criticism Of Cry, The Beloved Country

1010 words - 4 pages

New Criticism of Cry, the Beloved Country

     Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton can be effectively analyzed using the theory of New Criticism. When beginning to look at the text one must remember not to any attempt to look at the author’s relationship to the work, which is called "intentional fallacy" or make any attempt to look at the reader’s response to the work, which is called the "affective fallacy." First, the central theme of the book must be recognized. In this book the central thematic issue is separation and segregation, that there will always be major problems in society when race or skin color segregates people. This central theme can be seen in every place the characters travel and also in their daily activities. Next, the tone of the book must be identified. The tone throughout the book can be identified as hopeful and also fearful. The balancing tones of hopeful and fearful help balance the central theme. There is a sense that human beings are capable of change and thus one day all people will become equal. No matter how badly things may be, the tone implies that there is still great hope. The hopeful tone implies that even though segregation and separation is a grim and depressing, there is hope for the future because, if a couple people are capable of change, so is a whole country. The fearful tone implies that South African’s are afraid of what has happened in their country and what may happen. Fear can be seen everywhere, in the land, actions of the people, and they speech of people. These balancing tones are continued throughout the book and serves to balance the outlining themes with the central theme.

The next step in applying New Criticism is to examine some of the outlining themes to determine their complexity and whether or not they contribute to the central unifying theme. Several of these themes are: The urban city causes one to loss their identity, which can been seen in the character of the young girl who marries Absalom. She left her family in Alexandria and has lived on her own. Absalom is here third husband and she is even unsure of here age. Another theme is that each character is propelled by his/her own journey or search. Stephen Kumalo comes to Johannesburg to search for his ailing sister, missing son and a friend’s daughter. In his journey to Johannesburg there are a lot of smaller journeys, such as trips to the reformatory, Shanty Town ,Ezenseleni, and many such other trips. Other characters that are searching or journeying for something are Arthur Jarvis, James Jarvis, Absalom Kumalo, John Kumalo, and Msimangu. The ability of a family to nurture and heal individuals. This theme can be seen in how individuals such as Absalom and his wife are committing crimes to survive, but once reintroduced into the Kumalo family they become innocent and resort to traditional means of surviving. Absalom admits his guilt and writes letter to his family. Something he has never done and his wife happily takes...

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