Cry The Beloved Country
by Alan Paton
"Cry the Beloved Country", by Alan Paton, is a book which
tells the story of how James Jarvis, a wealthy estate owner
who, because of his own busy life, had to learn of the
social degradation in South Africa through the death of his
only son. If Arthur Jarvis had never been killed, James
Jarvis would never have been educated by his son's
writings, and by Stephen Kumalo.
When we first meet James Jarvis, he knows little of his
son's life. He doesn't know his son "was on a kind of
mission" (p.140), and this is why when Harrison
says,"...we're scared stiff at the moment in
Johannesburg."( P. 140) James is surprised and says, "of
crime?"( P. 140). Talking to Harrison taught Stephen about
the crime in the City, and the next morning he learns about
his son. One of the first things that James learns of his
son, and his views, he learns in Arthur's room. In reading
his writings, James finds that Arthur would have risked
anything to help other people, and ended up doing just
that. James finds that his son was well researched on the
problems of their society, and was interested in helping
the development of the social structure in south Africa.
From the pictures of Jesus and Lincoln on his wall, James
discovered the admiration Arthur had for these two men.
These were men of action, who showed love for their
friends, and at the same time, their enemies. These two men
suffered and died for their beliefs, as did Arthur in a
way. This comparison enables Arthur's father to better
understand his son and he realizes how concerned Arthur was
After the discovery of his son's views, James begins to
realize his shortcomings and starts to think of the
problems of others and not only of his own. In this aspect,
James begins to remind the reader of Oscar Shindler who at
one time hated Jews, but as he began to understand them, he
thought of their troubles and how his wealth could save
them. Much like Shindler, Jarvis helps the minority.
Following his son's death and the acquaintance of Stephen,
James donates 1000 pounds to the African boy's club. Jarvis
is not just giving gifts in memory of his Son, or just to
give, but rather he is giving those who need help, ways to
help themselves. When James gave the money to the club, he
didn't just decide to give it to them, but knew that if he
gave it, the club would use it to improve the country's
condition. In all of his donations, James uses this subtle
method to emancipate the blacks. This is the method his
son taught him. Using his son's views again, James decides
to do something about Kumalo's village, which is falling
apart. This Task is a fairly large one, and James does this
in steps. He first provides milk for the village kids, who
only have warm water to drink, and then he builds a church.
The reason he decides to build a church is that when he is
in Ndotsheni it begins to rain, and he and Stephen take
shelter in the church, which leaks and is in need of
repair. The rain in Ndotsheni is a bit of foreshadowing of
hope for the village, and maybe of what is to come.
Through James' education, we learn the similarities between
Mr. Jarvis and Kumalo. When we first meet Jarvis, the
setting is much the same as when we met Stephen. They both
live in the farming areas of South Africa, and they share
the love for the land, and what is in their lives. They
each are married with one son of whom they know nothing.
After they both lose their sons, they have a need to
understand them, although all that is left are the
memories. They each learn of the problems in South Africa
through their sons, and after the realization, they both
try to do something to improve the social, and racial
differences which plague Johannesburg.
" Cry the Beloved Country" is a book meant to teach how
racial views can affect people in different ways. The
representation shows how South African problems "educated"
James Jarvis, and turned him into a compassionate, and
understanding man. If Arthur Jarvis had never been killed,
James Jarvis would not have been educated by his son's
writings or by Stephen Kumalo.
"For complete summary and analysis of literary works, please visit