Cry, the Beloved Country

  • Created by: gitudisco
  • Created on: 13-05-19 12:46

Cry, The Beloved Country 


General Information

Full Title  - Cry, the Beloved Country

Author  - Alan Paton

Type Of Work  - Novel

Genre - Father’s quest for his son; courtroom drama; social criticism

Language - English

Time And Place Written - Various parts of Europe and the United States, in 1946

Date Of First Publication  - 1948

Publisher  - Charles Scribner

Narrator - The third-person narrator is omniscient, or all-knowing, and temporarily inhabits many different points of view.

Point Of View  - Books I and III are largely told from Kumalo’s point of view, while Book II is told largely from Jarvis’s point of view. A number of chapters, however, feature a montage of voices from different layers of South African society, and the narrator also shows things from other characters’ perspectives from time to time.

Tone  - Lyrical, grieving, elegiac, occasionally bitter

Tense  - Past

Setting (Time) - Mid-1940s, just after World War II

Setting (Place)  - Ndotsheni and Johannesburg, South Africa

Protagonist  - Stephen Kumalo; James Jarvis

Major Conflict  - St17ephen Kumalo struggles against the forces (white oppression, the corrupting influences of city life) that destroy his family and his country

Rising Action  - Kumalo travels to Johannesburg to search for his son

Climax  - Absalom is arrested for the murder of Arthur Jarvis

Falling Action  - Absalom is sentenced to death; Jarvis works with Kumalo to improve conditions in the village; Absalom is hanged

Themes -  Separation and reconciliation between fathers and sons; the impact of social injustice on individuals; crime and punishment; Christian love as a response to injustice

Motifs  - Descriptions of nature; anger and repentance; repeated phrases

Symbols  - The church, brightness, sunrise

Foreshadowing  - When Kumalo sees in the newspaper that a white man has been killed by native South Africans during a break-in, he has a premonition that Absalom is involved.


  • Ndotsheni (South Africa)
  • Reverend Stephen Kumalo receives letter asking for his presence in Johannesburg because his sister Gertrude is fallen sick.
  • Stephen Kumalo starts his journey hoping to cure Gertrude and to find his son Absalom that never returned to Ndotsheni
  • Kumalo soon meets Msimangu, the priest who sent him the letter 
  • Stephen finds housing at Mrs. Lithebe a Christian women that feels like helping others is her duty
  • Stephen Kumalo visits Gertrude, who is now a prostitute and liquor-seller and he convinces her to go back to Ndotsheni with the young child she has 
  • Msimangu helps Stephen in his search for Absalom
  • They visit Kumalo’s brother John, who has become a successful business man and politician that directs them into a factory where Absalom used to work
  • Kumalo starts following the leads that people give him and during his journey he starts to learn about the racial and economic gap between black and white people.
  • He finds out that his son spent a lot of time in a reformatory and that he got a girl pregnant
  • Meanwhile, on the newspaper it is announced that Arthur Jarvis, a white


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