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Key Facts

Key Facts

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.

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