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Cry, the Beloved Country

Alan Paton

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions & Essay Topics

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  · Stephen 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.

More Help

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apartheid

by anda963, September 12, 2013

whites and south Africans didn't get along and were separated by their race.

Deep Discussion Questions

by Bertfromaccounting, December 12, 2013

Explain the difference between Jarvis's reaction and his wife's reaction to Arthurs death?
What does the phrase "Cry, The Beloved Country" mean when used in the novel? (Pg 105)
At what point does the novel show Kumalo's physical weakness, and not his intellectual prowess?
How do you think Absalom would have turned out if he was instead sentenced to life imprisonment, and became Nelson Mandela's cell mate.
Why was Kumalo and the priests able to go to Johannesburg and not turn to crime like everyone else?

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