The Colonial Aspects Of Alan Paton's Cry, The Beloved Country

Dr. V. L. Rinawmi


Whilst apartheid, South Africa’s infamous system of enforced racial segregation, was not instituted until after the novel’s publication, the South Africa of Cry, the Beloved Country (1948) was nevertheless suffering from the effects of racial segregation, enforced inequality, and prejudice. It enforced racial discrimination against non-whites, mainly focused on skin colour and facial features. The indigenous Africans are treated as a minority, as indicated in the novel itself. Cry the Beloved Country provides the political view of Paton both in subtle and evident ways. The structure of the novel highlights a “social protest” as it is extremely evident in the relationship between the colonized and the colonizers, in this case the blacks vs. the whites, regulate the plot. Every character’s race is provided and has association with his/her place in life. A black man (Absalom kumalo) kills a white man (James Jarvis); therefore that black man must die. Also in the book, a black Umfundisi (Reverend Stephen Kumalo) lives in a sterile valley that yields no food, while a white farmer (James Jarvis) dwells above in the hills on a rich plot of land. We are told that white men are even taken to court for the simple gesture of giving a black man a ride. This is not a subtle point as the novel evidently denotes the diversities in the lives of the South Africans. Cry the Beloved Country denounces the inhumane South African segregation system and calls for a humane and compassionate order that respects Africans, supports their development and integration, and provides them access to the wealth of the country. This social justice novel falls short, however, in its call for racial equality.

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