Cry The Beloved Country
by Alan Paton
"Cry The Beloved Country", by Alan Paton, tells how James
Jarvis, a wealthy estate owner learns 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 enlightens Stephen
about the crime in the City, and the next morning he learns
about his son's views when he looks through his belongings
in his 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 for humanity.
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.
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