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Cry, the Beloved Country Study Guide


Alan Paton composed Cry, the Beloved Nation during his period as the principal at the Diepkloof Reformatory for overdue African kids. He began composing the novel in Trondheim, Norway in September of 1946 and completed it in San Francisco on Christmas Eve of that exact same year. Worrying the state of racial affairs in South Africa, the unique tells the story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his search in Johannesburg for his son, who is accused of murdering the white social reformer Arthur Jarvis. Paton offered the unique to Aubrey and Marigold Burns of Fairfax, California, who sent it to a number of American publishers, including Charles Scribner’s Sons, whose editor, Maxwell Perkins, instantly consented to its publication. According to Paton’s note on the 1987 edition of the book, the novel was entitled as such during a competitors in which Paton, Aubrey and Marigold Burns each decided to compose a proposed title and all three selected Cry, the Beloved Country.

Upon the publication of the book in 1948, Cry, the Beloved Country ended up being an instantaneous phenomenon with near consentaneous appreciation. Not long after its publication the composer Kurt Weill adapted it into a musical, “Lost in destiny,” and Paton himself dealt with the movie script for the 1951 movie adaptation of the novel, directed by Zoltan Korda. In 1995, Miramax Movies again recorded Cry, the Beloved Nation, with James Earl Jones and Richard Harris in the functions of Stephen Kumalo and James Jarvis, respectively.

Undoubtedly much of the power of the book comes from its depiction of the particular social conditions in its modern South Africa. The unique takes place in the time immediately before the institution of apartheid in the country (the character Msimangu even goes over the possibility of apartheid), which took place within a year of the novel’s 1948 publication. For that reason, although the book does not talk about the state of South Africa throughout the apartheid years, Cry, the Beloved Country is typically utilized as a proxy for lessons worrying apartheid-era South Africa.

Even prior to the apartheid years, as Paton makes clear in his novel, discrimination versus blacks in South Africa was substantial. Blacks were prohibited from holding political office, had no practical unions, and certain positions were closed to them. The 1913 Native Lands Act avoided blacks beyond the Cape Province from purchasing land not part of certain reserves. But apartheid was officially institutionalised in 1948 with the election of the National Celebration and Daniel Malan as Prime Minister. The National Party preserved apartheid into law with such legislation as the Group Locations Act, which defined that different areas be reserved for the 4 main racial groups (whites, blacks, Coloreds, and Asians). The African National Congress, a group of black leaders under the leadership of Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela, emerged as the primary opposition to apartheid and the National Party’s reforms. The African National Congress ended up being significantly militant, even using terrorist strategies that resulted in the federal government banning the ANC in 1960.

After several years, completion of apartheid was a sluggish one that started with the election of F.W. de Klerk as leader of the National Party and President of South Africa. De Klerk began to permit multiracial crowds to object versus apartheid and consulted with blacks leaders such as Bishop Desmond Tutu. Most significantly, he raised the ban on the ANC and ordered the release of the sent to prison Nelson Mandela. By 1993, the National Party and the ANC reached a contract that promised to set up a democratic South Africa. The ANC won political power in April of 1994 throughout the very first nonracial democratic election, with 63 percent of the vote. Under the ANC, Mandela rescinded all apartheid legislation, while the South African parliament approved a brand-new constitution in 1996.

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