Use Of Title In Cry, The Beloved Country
Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton, takes place in1946 near the small rural town of Ixopo in the smaller village of Ndotsheni. The main character is Stephen Kumalo, a native priest who sets out on a mission to find his family. He receives a letter from a fellow priest, Msimangu, telling him his younger sister is ill. Kumalo decides he must go to Johannesburg to help his sister. He also hopes to find his only son and see if his brother is well because they too have gone away to Johannesburg. He arrives and with his new friend, Msimangu, searches for his sister and his son. He finds his sister and decides to take her and her son with him to Ndotsheni. He then speaks to his brother who has changed and forgotten his family. His brother helps get them started on their mission to find his son, Absalom. He eventually finds his son, but finds him in prison. Absalom murdered the only son of James Jarvis, a white man. A trial is held and Absalom is sentenced to death. Kumalo returns to his village and has suffered great pain but is welcomed. Through the tragedy he has made a connection with James Jarvis despite the fact his son murdered his. Jarvis is understanding and the two begin to rebuild the Ndotsheni community.
In Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton, one of the major themes is white destruction of South African’s native tribes. In the novel, whites come to South Africa in search of gold and use natives as their source of labor. They break apart the tribe and offer nothing to replace the broken homes. The title of the novel supports the pain that the white man’s destruction of the tribe is causing to the beloved country of Africa.
The title of the novel tells of the pain the natives of South Africa experience.
They cry on behalf of their country that they are watching go to waste. From the very beginning of the novel, the reader reads of a beautiful and rich valley. Then Paton goes on to describe the valley where the main character, Kumalo, lives. It is barren and “cannot hold the rain.” It is a valley of “old men and old women” that is deteriorating because the young people are not there to help take care of it (33-34). They all leave and go to the mines and the big cities, for the white man has convinced them this is where they belong.
The natives move to the cities to look for opportunities, but are only suppressed by the white man. The whites keep the natives stupid and do not want them to have more money or become smarter. They push the natives down for they fear “ a better-paid labour will also read more, think more, ask more, and will not be content to be forever voiceless and inferior” (110). The whites feel threatened by the possibility of equality with the natives. Therefore they deny them money, education and power so there will be no chance of equality.
The natives mostly cry because the whites split their tribes apart and their traditions are dying. The first time the title appears in the novel it reads:
Cry for the broken tribe, for the law and the custom that is gone. Aye, and cry aloud for the man who is dead [the natives predominant advocate], for these women and children bereaved. Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end. The sun pours down on the earth, on the lovely land that man cannot enjoy. He knows only the fear of his heart. (104-105)
The natives are realizing they have lost many of the things that they hold dear. The white man is breaking their tribes and customs but there is nothing offered to replace it. There are few links between the white man and the black man and when one of them is broken, it is a great loss. The man who was killed was a link and a defender of the natives’ rights. He was murdered and this has caused the whites to fear and