Cry and Compassion in Paton’s Novel “Cry, the Beloved Country”
In “Cry, the Beloved Country,” Alan Paton authored the novel to address the presence of inner conflicts of South African citizens. It entertains and dramatically shows some situations the author wants the citizens to find a remedy. Suffering is evident in many instances where Paton seeks to address South Africa’s problems. In his work, he prays that south Africa gets a solution to the difficulties related to racial segregation and discrimination. Although he put the setting in South Africa, he addressed the issues that affected the United States and the World. This paper will explore the causes of suffering and compassion in the novel and a mystery.
Suffering brings compassion and understanding to the citizens’ lives in the war-ravaged country. Alan puts the setting of his story in a large industrial city after World War II to show the disorder and racism in the South African Nations. The break-up witnessed among the South American tribes left land to natives who started to fight for the land leading to the death of one of the inhabitant’s sons. Suffering was also experienced by the two main characters of the novel, which brings compassion. Kumalo, the leading actor, faces many challenges in the entire book that deals with his family issues. Unfortunately, he suffers as he attempts to adjust to his new surroundings.
Kumalo received a message informing him about his sister being ill. He chooses to travel to Johannesburg to visit her, unfortunately, he gets robbed once he arrives. After the robbery against him, he is treated with kindness by a priest they met for the first time. This helps him adapt to the new environment by knowing that there exist both good and bad people in the changing society due to influence from the white people (Ibrahim, &TajAssir, 2019). He visits both good places and wrong places with later made him aware of the differences between the two after venturing into the society since he was presented with good and bad elements of it. His character is molded, and the thoughts that he should have about the town are clear to him, making him realize that he should be careful with the new society.
The native people in the neighboring towns of Johannesburg’s main city undergo difficult moments. Damaging the village setting left the people living with fear because they had no place to run. Suffering arises when the natives are told to vacate the land to give room for the city’s construction. Even though some white people recognize the panic of the people and try to intervene, their sacrifices are brought to a halt because of different circumstances. For example, Arthur Jarvis, a white spokesman, works on saving the natives who are misplaced due to wars (Yakhlef, 2019). As he was working hard to provide a sense of direction and worth to the local people, his life was cut short by the same forces he was trying to improve. This incident made people suffer even more because they remained with no one who could air their grievances to the white authorities. They continued to suffer in silence without any hope of living a comfortable life.
James Jarvis, the father of Arthur the Africans’ spokesman, also suffered after realizing the death of his son. He learned many good things that his son did through his death, which gave him a deeper understanding of his son. He discovers that Arthur had started many community projects to provide hope to the poor and provide food for the needy. He furthermore gets a good understanding of himself and develops a better understanding of the social life in the country. His suffering changes his attitudes towards life, and he becomes a changed man. As a result of the pain he had, he continued with the work that his son had started by funding the incomplete projects to improve the life of the local people who were on the verge of losing hope.
Consequently, life in the town made Kumalo develop new insights and the nature of life in the changing society. He goes through a lot of distress and misery until he meets a kind-hearted minister named Msimangu, who helps him get used to the town. He also has to deal with the difficulty of tracing and reuniting his family. It was a difficult task because the people of Ndoteshi and the neighboring towns had run away from their current land to seek refuge in a different place after being forced to. The lands could not keep them anymore because of the constant wars and spoilt society. He struggles and passes through difficult times looking for his sister Gertrude and eventually when he finds her; he realizes that she is a prostitute with a child. He could not believe that his sister could indulge in such practices, which made him feel so bad.
The imprisonment of Absalom causes Kumalo so much pain. After spending a lot of time looking for him in the whole town of Johannesburg, he is so surprised to find out that he had turned from a factory worker to become a slut. He changes from a promising man in society who was in the early stages of promising to an important man in the community only to turn into a killer. After Absalom learns of his mistakes in prison, he finally writes to his father, asking for forgiveness for the evil deeds. When his father reads the letters he is sent, he realizes that the son was apologetic and was willing to repent and become a reasonable person in society. Even though he is bitter about him, he decides to forgive him. When they eventually meet, during Absalom’s incarceration, they act as virtual strangers even though he had started to understand him after his trial for imprisonment.
Kumalo also suffers from being left behind by his son, brother, and sister. He accuses them of leaving the church and following sinful behaviors due to the influence of the big city and the arrival of the white men causing a mixture of the two different cultures. He says, “it is they who are hurting me…They go and they do not write anymore. Perhaps it does not seem to them that we suffer. Perhaps they do not care.” (Murphy et al., 2017). He suffers pain and even accuses his innocent wife of causing him pain. But when he later finds compassion, he decides to apologize to his wife for the unruly behavior.
There is also an aspect of emotional suffering that Kumalo experiences. Immediately he meets Msimangu, a priest from Johannesburg; he is a little bit relieved because of the excellent treatment. After a short period of interaction, Msimangu decides to open up and tell him the truth about the family members of Kumalo. He reveals that Absalom, the son of Kumalo, has established himself in the robbery. Despite being staunch in religious faith before, his exposure to the city made him land into theft which led to his change inhabits. He cannot control the habit of his son up to a situation where he dies. Kumalo suffers emotionally because he lost his son. Being a religious man, he is struck with guilty for his son dying as a victim of a terrible death in society. Kumalo had to get used to the constant struggles to ensure that he was not intimidated.
In conclusion, suffering in the Novel “Cry, the beloved country” is the most evident theme. Kumalo, the main character, goes through many uneventful circumstances that cause pain to him. Being a religious man, he expects his family to follow the right path of Christianity. He is surprised that since changing the environment, his sister Gertrude decides to venture into prostitution and his only son becomes a robber. Moreover, he goes through difficult moments when he first arrived in the city since he fell victim to robbery (Muhager et al., 2019). The Native people also have a complex life when they are told to vacate that land to give room for the city’s construction. Since they do not have people who will fight for them, they remain with one option of staying as slaves. Even though they have white spokesmen who fight for them, they are put under strenuous conditions by their counterparts to the point of murdering others. This case made the Africans lose hope entirely, and the only option they were left with was to fight for their own.
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