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Social Views In Cry, The Beloved Country

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In Alan Paton’s novel, Cry the Beloved Country, the author uses commentary and examples to depict his stance on South African society and politics.

Paton was one of South Africa's greatest writers, he wrote Cry, the Beloved Country in 1948 before the apartheid laws were passed. His messages in the book were not understood at the time of the publishing and the racial segregation continued for a while after. South Africa was divided between the European settlers and the native Africans. The whites dominated society and had more money although their population was so much smaller. During the time of writing the book, the government was trying to make a “legal segregation law.” Two years after the book was published Apartheid was made into a law. “Apartheid is a system of legalized racial segregation enforced by the National Party South African government between 1948 through 1994.” (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) In Cry the Beloved Country, Paton effectively presents the suffering that the native Africans went through as well as the country of South Africa during the apartheid period. In the beginning Paton talks of how beautiful South Africa is when the tribe is there to care and use it correctly. The author then goes on to tell what is currently happing in South Africa, “But the rich green hills break down. They fall to the valley below, and falling, change their nature. For they grow red and bare; they cannot hold the rain and mist, and the streams are dry in the kloofs. Too many cattle feed upon the grass, and too many fires have burned it. Stand shod upon it, for it is coarse and sharp, and the stones cut under the feet. It is not kept, or guarded, or cared for, it no longer keeps men, guards men, cares for men.” (Page 34) The author also shows how the white man has broken down the tribes and therefore has messed with the natives. “He told them too of the sickness of the land, and how the grass has disappeared…how the maize grew barely to the height of a man; how the tribe was broken , and the house broken, and the man broken; how when they went away, many never came back; many never wrote any more.” (Page 52) The author achieves his goal in depicting the harsh effects of segregation on the land of South Africa and the tribes. The tribes are broken down and split up and there is no one to keep the land and care for it therefore people are dying out. “There are so many poor black people in the Johannesburg area that they must move to a makeshift town called Shanty Town, where the buildings are so flimsy that they could not stand the rain or winter. South African whites have created this poverty, and now they have no idea how to solve it, and black South Africans now seem to have little choice but to live in poverty or turn to crime (most likely both.)”( Book Rags) The author uses the entire chapter nine to discuss the problem with living in South Africa if you are a black native. He depicts the natives trying to help themselves and build but they just do not have the resources to adequately serve themselves with nice houses. Another problem that Paton discusses is crime in South Africa. One of the major problems in the book is the murder of Author Jarvis by Absalom Kumalo. “I say we shall always have native crime to fear until the native people of this country have worthy purposes to inspire them and worthy goals to work for. “For it is only because they see neither purpose nor goal that they turn to drink and crime and prostitution…And the answer does not lie, except temporarily, in more police and more protection.” (Page



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