Cry, the Beloved Country

Cry, the Beloved Country

by Alan Paton

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Overview

The compassionate story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son Absalom.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780756940782
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/28/2003
Series: Oprah's Classics Book Club Selections
Sales rank: 1,203,465
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Alan Paton, a native son of South Africa, was born in Pietermaritzburg, in the province of Natal, in 1903. Paton's initial career was spent teaching in schools for the sons of rich, white South Africans, But at thirty, he suffered a severe attack of enteric fever, and in the time he had to reflect upon his life, he decided that he did not want to spend his life teaching the sons of the rich. He got a job as principal of Diepkloof Reformatory, a huge prison school for delinquent black boys, on the edge of Johannesburg. He worked at Diepkloof for ten years, and at the end of it Paton felt so strongly that he needed a change, that he sold his life insurance policies to finance a prison-study trip that took him to Scandinavia, England, and the United States. It was during this time that he unexpectedly wrote his first published novel, Cry, the Beloved Country. It stands as the single most important novel in South African literature. Alan Paton died in 1988 in South Africa.

Date of Birth:

January 11, 1903

Date of Death:

April 12, 1988

Place of Birth:

Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa

Place of Death:

Durban, Natal, South Africa

Education:

Maritzburg College, 1918; B.S., Natal University College, 1924

Read an Excerpt

Cry, the Beloved Country


By Alan Paton

Amereon Limited

Copyright © 1920 Alan Paton
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0891903798


Chapter One

There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it. The road climbs seven miles into them, to Carisbrooke; and from there, if there is no mist, you look down on one of the fairest valleys of Africa. About you there is grass and bracken and you may hear the forlorn crying of the titihoya, one of the birds of the veld. Below you is the valley of the Umzimkulu, on its journey from the Drakensberg to the sea; and beyond and behind the river, great hill after great hill; and beyond and behind them, the mountains of Ingeli and East Griqualand.

The grass is rich and matted, you cannot see the soil. It holds the rain and the mist, and they seep into the ground, feeding the streams in every kloof. It is well-tended, and not too many cattle feed upon it; not too many fires burn it, laying bare the soil. Stand unshod upon it, for the ground is holy, being even as it came from the Creator. Keep it, guard it, care for it, for it keeps men, guards men, cares for men. Destroy it and man is destroyed.

Where you stand the grass is rich and matted, you cannot see the soil. 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. The titihoya does not cry here any more.

The great red hills stand desolate, and the earth has torn away like flesh. The lightning flashes over them, the clouds pour down upon them, the dead streams come to life, full of the red blood of the earth. Down in the valleys women scratch the soil that is left, and the maize hardly reaches the height of a man. They are valleys of old men and old women, of mothers and children. The men are away, the young men and the girls are away. The soil cannot keep them any more.



Continues...


Excerpted from Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton Copyright © 1920 by Alan Paton.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Discussion Points

  1. How is Cry, the Beloved Country part story, part prophecy, and part psalm? How does the story resemble the biblical parable of the prodigal son? How does it mirror another biblical parable, Absalom? What is the significance of Kumalo's son being named Absalom? Where else does the Bible inform the story?
  2. There are many paradoxes in this novel: a priest's son commits murder; a white man who fights for the dignity of South African blacks is senselessly murdered; the father of the murdered son helps the father of the son who murdered to keep a disintegrating native tribe together. How do you reconcile these paradoxes? How do they contribute to the richness of the story? Why might Paton have made this choice?
  3. Msimangu says, "I see only one hope for our country, and that is when white men and black men, desiring neither power or money, but desiring only the good of their country, come together to work for it." The book was written in 1948. Some forty-odd years later, has Msimangu's prophecy come to pass? If so, in what ways? If not, why?
  4. How does apartheid manifest itself in Cry, the Beloved Country? Describe or characterize the separate worlds inhabited by blacks and whites. Where do black and white lives touch?
  5. Jarvis is unable to physically comfort Kumalo. Paton writes, "And because he spoke with compassion, the old man wept, and Jarvis sat embarrassed on his horse. Indeed he might have come down from it, but such a thing is not lightly done." But yet, when the people of Ndotsheni are in grave trouble, Jarvis provides milk and irrigation vital to their survival, and later a new church. Why is he capable of one and not the other? Exactly what is it that is not lightly done? How and why does such duality exist? What do you feel about such codes of behavior?
  6. Cry, the Beloved Country is, in part, a story about those who stayed and those who left. What happens to the people who stayed in the tribal villages? What happens to those who left and went to Johannesburg? What is Paton's point of view of this mass migration? Does he feel it was necessary? Inevitable? What is your opinion?
  7. Arthur Jarvis says "It was permissible to allow the destruction of a tribal system that impeded the growth of the country. It was permissible to believe that its destruction was inevitable. But it is not permissible to watch its destruction, and to replace it with nothing, or by so little, that a whole people deteriorates, physically and morally." What events in the novel illustrate the breakup of the tribal system? How is the tribal system destroyed? What is done to replace it?
  8. An unidentified white person in the novel offers, "Which do we suffer, a law-abiding, industrious and purposeful native people, or a lawless, idle and purposeless people? The truth is, that we do not know, for we fear them both." What is it that the white man fears in both instances? Which does the white man suffer in this novel? What might be Paton's point of view? What is your opinion and why?
  9. Throughout the story, Kumalo experiences the absence of God and momentary losses of faith. He suffers through periods where it feels as if God has deserted him. What other characters experience the absence of God? Does Kumalo ever experience the presence of God? If so, when? Is God basically absent or present in Paton's novel? If so, in what way does God manifest Himself?
  10. Describe the role of faith in the novel. How does it serve Kumalo and Msimangu, the people of Ndotsheni? Was it faith that inspired Arthur Jarvis, and hence his father? What about Absalom? Is there any indication that faith impedes or injures any of the characters?
  11. There is much mention of secrets in this novel, secrets with no answers. Father Vincent tells Kumalo, "Yes, I said pray and rest. Even if it is only words that you pray, and even if your resting is only a lying on the bed. And do not pray for yourself, and do not pray to understand the ways of God. For they are a secret. Who knows what life is, for life is a secret." How does this notion of secret permeate the novel? What does it give the novel? What effect do Father Vincent's words have on Kumalo? How do they affect you?
  12. Although Kumalo is a priest and often has the highest intentions, he sometimes does things which are contrary. For example, when he visits his son's wife-to-be, in his efforts to hurt her, he asks if she would take him if he desired her. Where else do we see Kumalo falter? How do you reconcile these two sides of Kumalo? How do you relate to him? Do any of the other characters falter? If so, who? What is it that makes Paton's characters so realistic?
  13. Kumalo and the demonstrator have very different opinions about the white man. Kumalo says, "Where would we be without the white man's milk? Where would we be without all that this white man has done for us? Where would you be also? Would you be working for him here?" And the demonstrator answers, "It was the white man who gave us so little land, it was the white man who took us away from the land to go to work. And we were ignorant also. It is all these things together that have made this valley desolate. Therefore, what this good white man does is only repayment." How do Kumalo and the demonstrator reconcile their different points of view? How might the other characters in the book feel? What is your point of view?
  14. The last few sentences Arthur Jarvis wrote before his death are: "The truth is that our civilization is not Christian; it is a tragic compound of great ideal and fearful practice, of high assurance and desperate anxiety, of loving charity and fearful clutching of possessions." Where in this novel do we see a split between high ideals and narrow self-interest? Do the characters embody one or the other, or are they morally mixed? Do you think what Jarvis feels applies to present-day South Africa? If so, how? If not, how have things changed?
  15. What is Paton's vision of the world? Does he express the view that human beings are immutable or capable of transformation? Are we left with any kind of message, any vision for mankind? If so, what is it?
Recommended Readings
A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest Gaines
Vintage, 1994
The Autobiography of Jane Pittman, Ernest Gaines
Bantam, 1992
Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin
Dell Press, 1985
The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
Vintage Books, 1995
July's People, Nadine Gordimer
Penguin Books, 1992
The Life and Times of Michael K, J. M. Coetzee
Penguin Books, 1985
Native Son, Richard Wright
Harper Perennial, 1993
Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, Toni Morrison
Vintage, 1992
The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
N.W, Norton, 1993
The Wall of Plague, Andre Brink
Summit Books, 1989
The Ways of White Folks, Langston Hughes
Vintage Books, 1990

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Cry, the Beloved Country 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 163 reviews.
Chas_Ackerman More than 1 year ago
This strange, lyrical novel is easily the most agonizing painful books I've ever read. Murder is perhaps the most overdone topic in the history of literature, but if all were done like this, we couldn't bear to read many. Published months before white supremacists created the legal system of apartheid (and set two years earlier, in the fall of 1946), the novel follows the fathers of an accidental killer and his unintended victim, starting before the murder and ending only after we get a sense of its ripple effects through the lives of whites and blacks as they try to make sense of the utterly pointless tragedy and the social system that led to it. It's a novel that does little to try to flashily seduce the reader. It starts out with a description of a rural valley in South Africa, a description that is repeated later with some key differences. Then it moves dialogue that almost sounds off-key: there are no quotation marks, only dashes, to indicate speakers and the characters have an odd repetitious quality to their speech that puzzles at first. At the risk of only a little hyperbole, it sounds like this: -- The sky is blue. -- You say the sky is blue. His eyes flickered upward. -- I say the sky is blue. -- I understand. The man nodded. -- You understand. My initial reaction to this was, "Oh man, did I pay for this?" But then as the matters grow more serious, I learned to appreciate that such dialogue has a somber rhythm, if not beauty, to it. It is not so much repetition as characters recognizing each other's humanity. And that is what makes this book so painful. Paton at every key moment goes for the perfectly understated emotion. The father of the murder victim does nothing histrionic -- there's simply this powerful scene in which he looks around his son's library, which is filled with passionate political books that mean nothing to him. He's forced to simultaneously confront the gulf that had arisen between himself and his son -- this sense that his own offspring is a mystery -- and also the grievous sense of loss in the quiet room (with the blood stain down the hallway). Scenes like this hurt. Toward the end, there's a stretch of maybe thirty or forty pages in which the characters briefly become symbols and Paton seems to be letting whites off easy in their greater complicity. But Paton himself seems aware of this, as he has a character that I was starting to find unrealistic deny that he is a saint and another character points out how much of the blame rests with the sins against humanity of the whites. What to make of these possible missteps by Paton and his own attempt to ameliorate them become a moot point by the powerful final scene. It's simply a man watching the sunrise. Yet, because of what it means when the sun rises above the horizon, I think that scene will stay with me far longer than the last couple pages of any other novel I've ever read. I am, I'm sure, reading this at a time when I'm particularly susceptible to its sentiments. After months of worrying about whether my infant son, who has just seemed like a bundle of vulnerability, I am watching him grow past the initial troubles that can beset a baby. He is starting to show a personality and I can begin to wonder what the future will hold in store for him. And this novel combines what are probably the two worst fates your child could experience: to murder or to be murdered. To me this is much more of a horror novel than some junk abou
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great, and if you rated the book one star on the complaint that the first chapter is about grass, you are idiotic. The meaning of the first chapter is much greater than just grass, and if you were reading the book and it was at your reading level, you would understand! Everyone should read this book!
The_hibernators More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time deciding between three and four stars for this book. It is a classic and deals with a very difficult subject, but the story-line seems scattered at times. Paton was trying to communicate the pain, fear, and anger that punctuated life in South Africa in the 1940s. This sociological topic is difficult for young people to grasp.well, it's difficult for not-so-young people to grasp if they have never experienced it. Thus, I found the book's topic interesting and learned a lot. The main character was complex and well-rounded. The raw emotion was captured. Because of this, I give the book four stars. However, a word of caution: when you read it, be prepared to accept the slow-moving, disconnected story line and just enjoy the characters and the sociological portrayal.
ChingJP More than 1 year ago
I read an earlier edition many years ago and loved it. Last year, I visited South Africa for the first time and then this year ran into a long time colleague who has devoted his last professional years in building bridges between US and South Africa higher educational institutions. So, I picked up the latest edition of Cry, The Beloved Country. Somehow, I got more out of it this time. Maybe, it's because I can imagine the narrative better, having been to South Africa and relate better to the story.
bobprior on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perhaps the most moving and beautifully written book I have ever read.
bexaplex on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rural pastor Kumalo is summoned to Johannesburg to see to his sick sister. While he is in the city, he searches for his son, who left for work in Johannesburg and never returned, nor wrote. Gertrude's illness turns out to be dissipation rather than physical ailment; she agrees to go back to Ndotsheni with her son. Absalom is found, arrested for murdering a young father during a botched burglary. The victim turns out to be not only a notable proponent of equal rights for black South Africans, but also from Ndotsheni.Cry, the Beloved Country takes place in South Africa during the late 40s, before apartheid, during the South African gold rush. It is a painful book to read, not just because much of the story is about the grief of fathers who have lost or are about to lose sons, but also because Paton writes a traditional narrative, resolving the story of the sacrificed sons by allowing the families to work together to restore the valley farmland. Near the end of the book an agricultural consultant describes the hard work ahead in building a dam and rebuilding the soil in the valley, hoping that there will be progress in 7 years. Which, of course, is right about the time that South Africa left the British Commonwealth and solidified the racial policies of apartheid. The book manages to sneak in a whole catalog of wrongs besetting South Africa: overpopulation, environmental destruction, labor exploitation, destruction of tribal social systems, not many of which have gotten better since the 40s.The dialog is fun; I have no way to assess the accuracy of early 20th century Zulu, but the way Kumalo communicates is very descriptive of his character. He talks simply and slowly, and you can hear the respect that others have for him by the way they repeat what he says, in the same cadence.
icolford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There's a reason why this book is a classic of 20th-century fiction. The story of Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo, who travels to Johannesburg in search of his son and sister, still packs a wallop sixty years after it was published. Set in apartheid South Africa, Cry, The Beloved Country depicts the stark contrast between rural and urban life in that country, and puts on vivid display the absurdity of an unjust and inhuman social policy. Paton does not preach. Rather, he allows his characters to show us how living under apartheid affects their lives and the choices they make. Kumalo, an old man at the time of the action and painfully aware of his weaknesses, does not fight the system or even question it, and yet his struggle to make sense of it and somehow find solace in tragedy is full of passion and drama. A masterpiece.
addict on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cry, the Beloved Country is a beautifully told and profoundly compassionate story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son Absalom, set in the troubled and changing South Africa of the 1940s. The book is written with such keen empathy and understanding that to read it is to share fully in the gravity of the characters' situations. It both touches your heart deeply and inspires a renewed faith in the dignity of mankind. Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic tale, passionately African, timeless and universal, and beyond all, selfless.
LaBibliophille on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This truly is a classic. It has beautiful, lyric writing combined with strong characters and an interesting plot. Although apartheid in South Africa is no more, this book still has lessons for today.
dchaikin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a gem, a story of South Africa from a Zulu perspective published just before Apartheid was instituted. Alan Paton, a south African of Scottish decent, creates a rural Zulu-feeling narrator that gives the book a beautiful, rich and simple feel. It's an easy book to fall into. We follow the story of a Zulu Christian minister who leaves his tribe to search for some family members in Johannesburg. And through his story and his naivety, we discover South Africa - a shockingly terrible place where a conflicted white population lives in fear of the masses of destitute broken black second-class citizens. It's the simplicity of the beginning that draws you in, and then Patton knocks you down. And we suffer through the story, yet still find it beautiful.
hammockqueen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was performed exceptionally on cd, in such a way as to make the voices still in my ear. I would hightly recommend this book on cd.
StephJoan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I got this book reccomendation from a rating site on the computer similar to this one. I always feel gratitude to the site for this book. It was so powerful and beautiful.
coolpinkone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book reads as Poetry. It is a beautiful story of a beautiful and simple land. Just read it and see.
cmbohn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alan Paton is an amazing writer. I knew what this book was about, of course. And I expected it to be a good book. What I didn't expect was to be so moved by the story, by the words, by the writing.Now that South Africa has made some strides towards equality, I find it so sad that Paton died before he could see what has happened in the country he loved.
cidnee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Moving story about a senseless murder set in a South African landscape of astonishing beauty contrasted by the ugliness of big-city-Johannesburg, Apartheid, and Racial Tension.
stveggy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really good book - great portrait of life in S. Africa
Cait86 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cry, the Beloved Country is listed on the LibraryThing recommendations for All Quiet on the Western Front, which I just read and absolutely loved. After reading Alan Paton's novel, I can certainly see the similarities between the two. Both are honest, raw looks at a tragic situation, and both focus on the fundamentals of human nature. Cry, the Beloved Country is set in 1946 South Africa; Paton uses the story of a minister and his son as a catalyst to a larger look at South African racial issues.The plot, while interesting, is not really the main feature of Cry, the Beloved Country. Rather, it is Paton's message that comes through. He tackles the complex relationship between the "white man" and the "native," and the abrupt changes to societal structures occurring in South Africa. Interspersed in the novel are chapters containing anecdotes on life in Johannesburg. These segments paint a picture of a country divided, and of a society on the brink of upheaval. Paton includes many political views in his novel, and one of the central turning points in the plot involves a rich white farmer adopting his son's progressive take on race. These views, though articulated in 1946, are nevertheless relevant today - and thus so is Paton's novel.Cry, the Beloved Country is not an easy book. Emotionally, it takes its toll, and it demands your intellectual attention. Some sections drag, and several paragraphs require multiple readings. This is not a book for a day at the beach, but a book to read carefully, to discuss, and to reread.
koalamom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stephan Kumalo and James Jarvis live in the same small town in 1946 South Africa. Kumalo is a black parson; Jarvis a white plantation owner. Though their paths never cross in their town, they do in Johannesburg when the son of Kumalo kills the son of Jarvis in a senseless act of robbery. No murder was to take place, just the robbery, but the plans of a scared and needy young man go awry and the worst happens. And yet the two fathers come to an understanding and no wrath crosses between them. Jarvis even gives aid to Kumalo's struggling people back in the small town they are both from. Kumalo's son dies, but there is a sense of some hope in a time and place where hope could have been abandoned and as time would tell, life would be alright - with a little hope.
stacyinthecity on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated with Africa. Someday I'll visit, but for now I read books. This one really brought South Africa of the 1940s alive for me. The descriptions of the land were so real and provided a setting for the tragic events that occur in the book. It is written so beautifully, in a way that I would describe as lyrical and evocative of what I imagine Zulu sentence structure is like. Best of all, underneath the excellent writing is a story with real substance and meaning.This book address pre-apartheid South Africa and shows the issues from both sides. The native people who's traditional tribal life has been torn apart, the land that is failing to produce quality crops, the white people, some of them innocent and actively working to improve things for the native peoples are still victims of terrible crimes.But ultimately, this is about forgiveness. Two fathers brought together by coincidence and tragedy come to understand each other and help each other, and maybe that is just what is needing when people are fighting. This book is a lesson for all of us.
amandacb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can see why people would like [Cry, the Beloved Country], as the story itself is interesting and pertinent, but the style is too...stylized, for lack of a better term, in places. I can see just as many people getting frustrated with the text and not giving it a chance. I'm glad I gave it a chance, but I won't be giving it a re-read. It just wasn't special enough.
Inkwell_Summer07 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is highly recommended by me! It's beautifully written, passionate, and stirring. =) There are several spoilers in my review. If you don't need to be convinced by my essay to read the book, then read the book first and then come back and read my essay."Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much."Alan Paton¿s Cry, the Beloved Country is just as passionate and socially relevant today as it was when first published in 1948. A Zulu pastor, Stephen Kumalo, searches for his lost son in a South Africa turbulently divided by racial injustice. Ultimately, the story portrays Kumalo¿s spiritual journey from naiveté to a deeper understanding of his world, from confused anger to abiding peace, from a wavering faith to complete trust in the actions of God.The opening pages are integral to the rest of the story as they describe the beauty of natural South Africa. With rich green hills and thick matted grass, it is almost a picture of Eden. Indeed, Paton writes, ¿Stand unshod upon it, for the ground is holy, being even as it came from the Creator¿ (33). Yet, the ¿hills break down¿They fall to the valley below, and falling, change their nature. For they grow red and bare.¿ In relation to Kumalo, this latter description embodies his spiritual state at the beginning of the novel. His church is located in the desolate valley, not in the vast and wonderful hills. He enters the pages a broken and suffering old man. Though his character does change by the end of the book, it is not a radical transformation. In fact, he leaves the book, just as he entered, broken and suffering. Change does not happen overnight ¿ it is a gradual process. It will take many years to renew the valley into the image of the glorious hills that surround it. It will also take Kumalo many years to change. Cry, the Beloved Country shows only the first small steps that he must take. For a broken man, it is difficult to begin this journey. At the opening of the story, Kumalo receives a letter, urging him to come to the faraway city of Johannesburg. His sister, Gertrude, who had journeyed there once and never returned, has been found, but is very sick. Kumalo, however, is afraid to go to the city to bring her back. Absalom, his son, had traveled to the city to search for Gertrude and never returned. Saving uselessly the money that his son would have used to go to college, Kumalo has built up a wall of lies around himself, thinking they will ease his suffering. Futilely, he tries to convince himself that his son will return, though he knows in his heart he never will. This deception only breeds anger that finally spills out in this scene."We had a son, he said harshly. Zulus have many children, but we had only one son. He went to Johannesburg, and as you said¿when people go to Johannesburg, they do not come back¿.My own son, my own sister, my own brother. They go away and they do not write any more. Perhaps it does not seem to them that we suffer. Perhaps they do not care for it." (39)Kumalo does finally decide to journey to Johannesburg and, eventually, he is reunited with his sister, brother, and only son. These meetings are far from happy, however. His sister has become a prostitute. His brother is a hardened man (he has lost all faith in Christ and is embittered against the white men, using his powerful voice to speak out against them at political rallies). And, most tragically of all, his son has killed a man and is doomed to die.Yet, these individual trials form the foundation upon which Kumalo is able to grow spiritually. The man his son killed was Arthur Jarvis, a
MattLopez on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Okay, I had to read this book for a class I'll admit but this book surprised me. I actually got into it. These men are old but somehow so full of promise. They learn so much and I learned a lot about South Africa. The reason I didn't give this book a higher rating is because its just so sad almost the whole time and just when I thought it was getting hopeful the author had to put some doubt into the mix. If you like nice sugary ending like I do I would not recommend this book. However I saw the message clearly and there were moments that I got goose bumps because I knew exactly what the author was trying to say. Its just too sad for me is all.However I do have to admit, this has broadened my view on South Africa¿s history. I honestly have to say, this is a book I want to read again (if I have the time) so I can fully understand it. When originally reading it, I didn¿t always fully understand what I read and that¿s why I¿d like to read it again. If my teacher didn¿t put this on a list of books to read, I probably never would of read it.Now that I have read it, I can say however, Cry, the Beloved Country is one of the best books I¿ve ever read. Hands down. Although it is fictional, it is the only book I¿ve read that has true meaning behind it. Thanks Ms. Holland.
divawaldo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is the reason I have traveled to South Africa so many times in my life. Even if it was a required reading in my High School english class it was well worth the time it took to read it.
bherner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An early anti-apartheid novel. A good book, especially if you are interested in the subject.
deebee1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book practically on the heels of The Grass is Singing which were written at about the same time and about the same subject, relationship between the whites and the natives of South Africa. I came away from Cry, the Beloved Country book feeling exactly the opposite of what I did after reading The Grass is Singing. Both evoked intense feelings, but while TGIS emphasized the racial tensions, CTBC spoke of harmony, of forgiveness, of benevolence on the part of the colonial masters. While Lessing talked of the harsh, dry and unforgiving land, Paton spoke of the gentle hills and the vast plain, of promise and rain - South Africa's two faces. Lessing writes in spare prose, while Paton's prose is as if bibilical poetry. Did I like this book? Yes, but not as much as most people do. It is heartbreaking, sad, inspiring, but it borders on paternalistic, where the little coloured man is white man's burden (even in spite of the wrong done him here). For it's Christian themes of love, forgiveness, compassion and hope, I recommend this book and I'm glad to have read it. But I prefer Lessing's, Gordimer's, and Coetzee's South Africa any time.