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
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
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.
Take a Study Break!