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Novel Review - Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

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Essay Preview: Novel Review - Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

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In the novel Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton, he uses two places to convey the whole purpose of the novel. First we are introduced to Ndotsheni. It is described as being holy and the main character from there, Stephen Kumalo, is a priest. The other city is Johannesburg. The beginning of Book I and Book II are exactly the same except in Book II the beginning leaves out the part where the land is holy. Right from the beginning Johannesburg is referred to as unholy, or unreligious and worldly. The main differences between these two cities show us the deeper meaning of Cry, the Beloved Country. Religion/Christianity plays a large part in these two cities along with injustice in South Africa and how to reconcile this injustice, if possible at all.

In the beginning it is made clear that Ndotsheni is built on the moral principles and traditions that come from Christianity. They are also poor, which makes them seem to live a humble lifestyle because of their leaky roofs and small houses. This shows that they do not care as much about worldly possessions as the people of Johannesburg. Kumalo is the religious leader of the entire town and that puts a lot of weight on his shoulders, but he accepts it with dignity. He longs for his valley to be peaceful. The people of Johannesburg do not follow morals, rather they live based on the somewhat political principal of possessions = worth. This viewpoint is much the opposite of the Christian standpoint. This also happens in Ndotsheni however where the people have cattle instead of worldly possessions. That is part of the farming problem in Ndotsheni. The main problem with religion in these two cities is that the world looks enticing to the people who have never been in it. The humble people of Ndotsheni have never been to Johannesburg and do not know what it is like but most see a better future there. A prime example is John Kumalo. He came from the same place as his brother, obviously, but they both ended up in entirely different places. John got greedy. He wanted to be a political leader and knew staying in Ndotsheni would not be the way to do that. By gaining political status, he also gained something from a worldly standpoint. He pointed out some flaws of the Christians there; the white bishop who tells his congregation about the injustice of blacks getting paid less and being forced to live in poverty yet he lives lavishly because of this injustice, but John is still a very corrupt man whose only focus is himself.

Throughout the story there are many injustices just like that one, and the unfairness of the world. Paton knew the ways of the world and the fact that nothing in it was fair. An example of this is Arthur Jarvis. Even though he is murdered before we know of him, his father, James, finds his writings in his library and we get to read them also. We learn what Arthur believed in at the same time as his father does; something James deeply regrets. Arthur was unfairly killed by Absalom, Stephen's



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