The True Meaning of Cry, the Beloved Country
Many debates have been sparked by Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country. Even the essence of the book's title examines South Africa and declares the presence of the inner conflict of its citizens. The importance and meaning of the title of Cry, the Beloved Country is visible in Paton's efforts to link the reader to forthcoming ideas in the novel, Paton's description of South Africa's problems, and Paton's prayer for the solution of South Africa's difficulties with race and racial oppression.
One way Paton connects the reader to the racial tension in the novel is through the repetition of the thematic title throughout key events in the novel. Paton often uses the wording of the title within the text to express the pain inflicted by South Africa's moral conflict, racial segregation and oppression. Paton uses the repetition to connect events in the story with the overall theme, altering the context slightly each time. At one point, Paton expresses the anguish of the broken African society and the transformation and assimilation into a white man's society of hatred and separation. Paton pleads, "Cry for the broken tribe, for the law and the custom that is gone. Aye, and cry aloud for the man who is dead, for the woman and children bereaved. Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end" (Paton 73-74). By creating links between major events and minor characters, Paton's repetition slowly delves into one's mind and leaves the indelible mark of a quest for liberty and freedom so that one again views the title, it is as if one sees the cover for the first time, and one realizes how much is held in the few words of "cry, the beloved country."
Another way Alan Paton relates the title of Cry, the Beloved Country to the subject matter of the story is through personal identification with the reader's feelings. Paton plays upon the maternal or paternal instincts within everyone, finding a chord and playing upon it, evoking fear or wisdom or sadness through his powerfully chosen yet simple words. At one point, Stephen Kumalo searches for his son in the wide streets of Johannesburg. He fears that his son has done something terribly bad, and for the reverend, this is almost more than he can bear. Paton narrates, "Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeplyÖFor fear will rob him of all if he gives too much" (Paton 80). The reverend's despair is evident in his fear of love for the earth and that which lies within the earth. Because of the appearance of the book's title at such a critical juncture, one cannot keep oneself hereafter from connecting the title of the book to this point in the novel.
On the other hand, Paton delves into South Africa's problems with unity and erosion, conveying a sense of how a beautiful country is going to waste due to ...