Cry, the Beloved Country


Reconciliation between Fathers & Sons

    At the beginning of the novel, Kumalo's search for Absalom was only physical, yet after searching around all of Johannesburg and finally finding Absalom, Kumalo is distressed to find that his son is nothing like what he had expected him to be like. He was the father of a pre-marital child, he was a thief, and he was a murderer. Upon that, even after he had committed these crimes, Kumalo was disgusted by the fact that Absalom didn't repent for anyone but himself when Kumalo went to visit him. Yet as the novel progresses the audience can see Kumalo's increasing acceptance of his child. The effects of having living in a parson's home are evident in Absalom. He was so traumatized by the murder that he prayed for repentance, and was almost ready to admit to the police himself what he had done. And finally the beginning of reconciliation between Kumalo and Absalom is shown at the court before Absalom is taken away. There Absalom shows great courage and pride, and Kumalo understands how much Absalom has grown. Kumalo finally accepts what his son has become after reading the numerous mails that Absalom sends from jail leading to his hanging.    Jarvis has a much different form of reconciliation to conquer. After years of separation, Jarvis comes to learn of his son's success only through his death. Jarvis read Arthur's numerous essays and through these finally understood the logic and brilliance behind Arthur's thinking. He was able to accept these facts and philosophies which had been different from his own, and begin to appreciate, support and  implement them. After reading about how his son appreciated the way he was raised shows that Arthur had grown to support his parents although he still felt they made mistakes. Yet Jarvis comes home and uses Arthur's philosophies, and policies to make Ndotsheni a better place.
South African Apartheid
Picture Found at:


    A key factor to the entire plot and to an entire time period in South African history is segregation, and the question of equality. Not just black and white, but male and female. Some of the key aspects of this novel play of the conflict of this decisive issue. Racism and segregation play a huge role in this novel. A few chapters are dedicated to small monologues describing the different views and opinions of people in that time, and their idea to help balance society. Race affected everything in the novel. It was a big deal for Jarvis to help Kumalo up due to the fact that Jarvis was white, and Kumalo was black. It was also controversial when the young man from the reformatory crossed the line to help Absalom up during the trial. The racial barrier is a vital element to the complexity of this novel.

    A difference between males and females is also evident. From the beginning of the novel when Kumalo is riding to Johannesburg in the train, the audience understands how women are inferior. Therefore being a black woman was a double negative. Unable to really achieve any greatness we can see a majority of the black women as examples of failures or outcasts, such as Gertrude or Absalom's girlfriend. Another example of the inferiority of women during this time period is that there are no major female characters. Even in most Shakespearean plays the are major female characters, yet in this novel all the females serve a secondary or minor characters.