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Cry, the Beloved Country

Essay by   •  March 1, 2012  •  Essay  •  1,217 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,304 Views

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Many books contain two or more settings that can be compared and contrasted to form an even deeper meaning in the book for the reader. In the novel, Cry, The Beloved Country, the reader is introduced to two locations known as Johannesburg and Ndotsheni which display different aspects of life, religion, and tradition in a community. These two towns, one urban and one traditional, form characters in a mold that contrasts rural and urban lifestyles. Forming characters in these unique ways causes conflicts in society mainly centered on race. Through the differences in the two towns, many moral controversies arise regarding race and how each town's occupants should be treated, mainly revolving around religion or individual desires.

Religion is the key difference between the two cities in Cry, The Beloved Country that sparks other conflicts. Ndotsheni, being the more traditional city of the two, still maintains that religion is extremely beneficial to the city's success while Johannesburg lacks much religion. This difference is stated at the beginning of both book I and II in the novel. "Stand unshod upon it, for the ground is holy, being as it came from the Creator. Keep it, guard it, care for it, for it keeps men, guards men, cares for men. Destroy it and man is destroyed" (3). The beginnings of the first two books in the novel are exactly the same, but book II is beginning excludes the sentence about the land being holy. The second book refers to the city as being unholy, therefore, it is assumed that religion is not the key theme in the community of Johannesburg (129). The town's surroundings are described as the same, but Johannesburg is deemed sinful because it is unreligious when compared to Ndotsheni. The sinful city is a problem and the only way to resolve it would be to bring more religion into the community of Johannesburg. Unfortunately, it encapsulates all who take up residence there from the surrounding cities.

Johannesburg mainly foregoes most of religion because its residents follow laws created on political principles rather than moral principles. Arthur Jarvis's letter, which was read posthumously, said, "The truth is that our civilization is not Christian; it is a tragic compound of great ideal and fearful practice, of high assurance and desperate anxiety, of loving charity and fearful clutching of possessions" (155). Arthur Jarvis was probably one of few people who understood how Johannesburg lacked morality. Additionally, he respected members of the African race as individuals, unlike other common whites in Africa. In search of possessions, white men put religion to the wayside and treated Africans poorly to maximize economic gains. It was ironic that Arthur was the one who passed away, as he understood how people should be treated and reasoned that people should not seek only possessions.

John Kumalo demonstrates the thoughts, actions, and true objectives of those in the two towns in Cry, The Beloved Country. John was a carpenter when he lived in Ndotsheni, but decided to travel to Johannesburg. The town of Johannesburg seemed to modify his previous desires in life as he became a very successful businessman to concentrate more on possessions. He speaks about immoral behavior and lack of rights in South Africa yet he does nothing about the injustices. Still holding onto his beliefs from his days in Ndotsheni, he tries to converge on the mindset of others in Johannesburg. Unfortunately, the immoral system in Johannesburg takes hold of him and he chooses to retain his possessions and protect them out of fear of losing them. He may want to be just and moral, but his mind is set on the objectives that all of Johannesburg encompasses.

James Jarvis was

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