Cry, the Beloved Country

Cry, the Beloved Country
By Alan Paton
List at least two possible
themes from your text.
Provide three examples from the story to support how each of these themes is developed.
Fear causes
impulsive actions.
 Absalom Kumalo kills Arthur
Jarvis because he is scared.
 Gertrude Kumalo goes to
Johannesburg because she is
worried about her husband.
 Gertrude Kumalo works as a
prostitute because she fears
she won’t be able to provide
for her son any other way.
Being removed from the support and
guidance of family members can result in
devastating consequences.
 When Absalom leaves his
parents, he gets involved with
criminal activity.
 The young people of
Johannesburg are away from
their tribes and families and
get into trouble.
 The villages have very little
crime compared to the big
Introduction – compare/contrast
through second person point of view
Rich fertile hills
Desolate valleys
 The rich areas are fertile
 The land can’t hold rain
and not overused
 The land is green and wet
 The birds sing
and the streams are dry
 The ground is overused
and doesn’t grow crops
like it used to
 The only people left are
the old men and old
women, mothers and
The book transitions from one chapter to another using time,
location, and point of view.
There are also style differences that separate each chapter. In
chapter one a narrator contrasts the rich and poor areas of
South Africa, but chapter two is made up almost entirely of
Within the story, transitional words and conjunctions are used
to connect events: “So they all talked of the sickness of the
land…So they broke up…” (42).
 Basic situation: Rev. Kumalo is looking for his son.
 Complication: He travels to Johannesburg, stays with some priests,
finds his sister and brother, visits a reformatory looking for his
son, and finally meets his son's pregnant girlfriend.
 Climax: He finds out his son is accused of murdering Arthur Jarvis
and visits him in prison.
 Falling Action: his son marries the girl, his son is found guilty in a
trial, and his son is hanged.
 Resolution: He forms a friendship with Mr. Jarvis who "has no
anger in him" and even helps Kumalo by offering money for a new
 Protagonist – - a main character; wants something or is
trying to solve a problem
 Reverend Stephen Kumalo is the
He wants to find his family members,
especially his son.
Antagonist –fights
against the main
character or
Various forces/people work
against Rev. Kumalo at
different times in the novel.
Johannesburg, apartheid,
Absalom Kumalo, Gertrude
Kumalo, James Jarvis, The
man who stole his money...
 Dynamic – Character
development - how a character
changes or grows throughout a
 A character who changes in the
novel (a dynamic character) is
James Jarvis. He learns from his
son, even after his son's death. He
starts out believing in segregation,
but feels differently by the end of
the novel.
James Jarvis
More Characters
 Static – Stephen Kumalo, John Kumalo, Mrs. Kumalo
 Round – James Jarvis, Rev. Stephen Kumalo, Theophilus
Msimangu, Absalom Kumalo
 Flat – Gertrude’s son, The young man, Father Vincent,
Absalom’s girlfriend, Margaret Jarvis, John Harrison, Mr.
Harrison, Author’s son
 showing
 telling
 When an author describes a character
 When an author
through his/her speech, actions,
states directly what
thoughts, appearance, or other
characters' thoughts about that
a character is like or
gives a direct
 "But she did not go at once. She
rubbed one bare foot against the other,
she rubbed on finger along the edge of
 “The small child...”
the umfundisi's table" (35).
 The above sentence is much more
descriptive than "She was hungry."
Johannesburg, South Africa
 The 1940’s were a time of racial segregation, enforced inequality, and prejudice.
 The crime rate was high, and attacks on whites by black agitators caused panic
among the country’s white citizens.
 Black South Africans found themselves adrift as the traditional tribal cultures gave
way to the lure of the cities, and many South Africans were left without any moral
or social organization to turn to.
 Whites held a monopoly on political power, and they did nothing to alleviate the
extreme poverty among black South Africans, which in turn led many young black
men to crime. The gold mines, which were so vital to South Africa’s economy,
depended on cheap black labor to remain profitable, and as a result, the workers
were paid barely enough to survive.
 But those in power inevitably broke up attempts to strike or seek a better wage.
All information on this slide is from:
Point of View - multiple
1st person
3rd person objective
 "I have had the experience
 -I bring a letter umfundisi.
of meeting a young woman
here in Johannesburg..."
2nd person
 "Below you is the valley of
the Umzimkulu..." (33)
 -A letter, eh? Where did
you get it, my child? (35)
3rd person limited
 "Yes he remembers."
3rd person omniscient
"The people looked at the sky...and did not know whether to be glad or sorry."
1. _(no particular chapter; figured out by the middle of the story)__
inference: Absalom Kumalo was a good person who made a tragic mistake.
We come to this conclusion based on what we know about his family, the environment he was in,
and the fact that he is honest, even when he knows it will lead to his death.
2. “She looks at him sullenly, like an animal that is tormented. (61)”
inference: Sullenly is defined for us through the context of the sentence. It means gloomy.
3. "But she did not go at once. She rubbed one bare foot against the other, she rubbed one finger
along the edge of the umfundisi's table." (35)
inference: She was hungry.
4. “-I am ashamed to walk with you.” (101)
inference: He is not ashamed of the priest. He is ashamed of himself because of how he acted
toward Absalom’s pregnant girlfriend.
5. Chapter two
inference: The fact that Rev. Stephen Kumalo hesitates to open the letter forshadows that it may
contain bad news. The letter does contain bad news; his sister is sick.
Consider the literary elements we studied, and explain the impact of the author’s
choices. How is the author’s style unique? Did the author make good choices, or could
the book have been improved if any of the elements were different?
Alan Paton’s style is unique because it is not consistent. He uses multiple points of view and
seems to be telling the story of South Africa from multiple perspectives. He breaks some
traditional rules of writing by using dashes instead of quotation marks for dialogue and by
writing in many different styles. He uses short sentences in some parts of the book and very
long sentences in other sections. Fragments and colloquial language add to the flavor of the
book, such as:
-stay well...go well
-my child, the mother, the father, my friend
...hard names for a Zulu who has been schooled in English (ch. 4, pg. 45)
-I am ashamed to walk with you. (101)
-I am glad to greet you. (49)
All of these examples, along with use of second person point of view, make the reader feel as if
he or she is in South Africa with the characters. The multiple styles make this book as eclectic as
the country in which it takes place.
Analyze the use of words in the story. Provide at least one example of
each. Explain how the word choices affected your appreciation,
enjoyment, and/ or understanding of the story.
 The words used in this story fit the culture and the social
class of the characters.
 The language changes based on the character and the
 The language used in Johannesburg is different from the
villages. The dashes make it easy to see when a new person is
speaking and is a nice alternative to quotation marks.
 Sometimes it is difficult to understand parts of the story
because of the unfamiliar language, but the context of the
story helps, and many phrases and words are repeated
throughout the story to help a reader’s comprehension.
Figurative Language
 Simile – “And always behind them the dim walls of the
wattles, like ghosts in the mist.” (32)
 2. Metaphor – “the tribe was broken…the house
broken…the man broken…” (42)
Sound Devices
 alliteration - “He held it in his hand.” (30) – repetition of the h
 assonance - “My own son, my own sister, my own brother. They
go away and do not write any more. Perhaps it does not seem to
them that we suffer.” (31) - long and short o sound is
 consonance - “People looked at him with interest and respect.”
(35) –t sound is repeated at the end of words
Tone – fear, page 29
Sentence Structure – dialogue is mostly simple sentences,
and narration is mostly complex and compound sentences.

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