Cry, the Beloved Country

Cry, the Beloved


The book "Cry, the Beloved Country" by

Alan Paton is a book about agitation and turmoil of both whites and blacks
over the white segregation policy called apartheid. The book describes
how understanding between whites and blacks can end mutual fear and aggresion,
and bring reform and hope to a small community of Ndotcheni as well as
to South Africa as a whole. The language of the book reflects the Bible;
furthermore, several characters and episodes are reminiscent of stories
from the New Testament and teachings of Christ. Thus, Alan Paton, as a
reformer and the author of "Cry, the Beloved Country", gives the people
of South Africa a new, modern Bible, where he, like Christ, teaches to"love thy brother as yourself" in order to help whites and blacks overcome
the fear and misunderstanding of each other.

The language of the book from the very
beginning reveals its biblical nature. "The great valley of Umzimkulu is
still in darkness, but the light will come there. Ndotcheni is still in
darkness, but the light will come there also." The style includes symbols
such as light and darkness, short clauses connected by "and" or "but",
and repetition. This style is used to represent speech or thoughts "translated"
from Zulu.

Jesus Christ is symbolized by the figure
of Arthur Jarvis. He is a white reformer who fights for rights of blacks.

Like Christ, he is very altruistic and wants to pursue his aims at all
costs. His friend, Harrison, says: "Here [Arthur Jarvis] was, day to day,
on a kind of mission." (173) Arthur Jarvis and his wife Mary "agree that
it's more important to speak the truth than to make money." (172) Arthur

Jarvis is killed in his house by Absalom, a black youth who gets entangled
in crime. Absalom only intends to rob Arthur Jarvis, and the homicide is
unintentional. Absalom thinks that Arthur Jarvis is out and comes into
the house with two friends. However, when Arthur Jarvis "heard a noise,
and came down to investigate" (186). Startled and afraid, Absalom fires
blindly. Absalom later says in court: "Then a white man came into the passage…

I was frightened. I fired the revolver." (194) Absalom's blind fear is
symbolic of the fear, blindness, and misunderstanding between whites and
blacks; these are the reasons of racial hatred. In his room, there are
pictures "of Christ crucified and Abraham Lincoln" (176), the two men who
fought for human love and compassion and were killed because of their beliefs.

Arthur Jarvis can be identified with Jesus Christ. Jesus taught "love thy
neighbor as thyself". Roman priests didn't understand him, but they felt
his power and were afraid of him. Even though Christ taught compassion,
they claimed he would incite a riot and crucified him. Like Christ, Arthur

Jarvis teaches compassion and love between neighbors - whites and blacks,
separated by the policy of apartheid.

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ leads to
redemption, spiritual growth of many people and progress; likewise, the
death of Arthur Jarvis brings reform and hope. Ironically, the tragedy
brings together Stephen Kumalo, the father of a black murderer and Jarvis,
the father of Arthur Jarvis, the white victim.

High Place where Jarvis lives is symbolic
of an elevated position of many whites. Before his son's death, Jarvis
is on the hilltop, thinking in a distant, uninvolved way about the problems
between whites and blacks, seeing just the white point of view.

"Indeed they talked about [the erosion
of land] often, for when they visited one another and sat on the long cool
verandahs drinking their tea, they must needs look out over the barren
valleys and the bare hills that were stretched below them. Some of their
labor was drawn from Ndotcheni, and they knew how year by year there was
less food grown in these reserves." (162)

Jarvis is not a bad person but is ignorant
about the lives of blacks and the real issues that take place.

After the death of his son Jarvis learns
to view blacks as real people. Jarvis reads his son's papers and suddenly
becomes concerned with the ideas expressed by his son and by Abraham Lincoln.

"Jarvis sat, deeply moved [after reading Arthur's last paper.] …
[Then Jarvis] read [the Second Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln], and
felt with a sudden lifting of the spirit that here was a secret unfolding,
a track picked up again." (188) Later on, when Kumalo and Jarvis meet,

Kumalo stumbles and almost faints because of the shame and guilt he feels.

Jarvis doesn't yet know Kumalo is the father of the criminal, and doesn't
understand Kumalo's anxiety. However,