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Essay/Term paper: The breakdown and rebuilding of south african society within the novel cry, the beloved country

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Position Papers

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The Breakdown and Rebuilding of South African Society within the novel Cry, The Beloved Country





"...what God has not done for South Africa man must do." (25)





In the novel Cry, The Beloved Country, written by Alan Paton, some major conflicts follow the story from beginning to end. Two of these conflicts would be as follows; the breakdown of the tribal community and the power hope and faith pocesses to rebuild broken relationships. Kumalo, as an indivigual, demostrates the power of this hope which mends the broken relationships of his friends and his fallen tribal community. Throughout the novel one aquires the perfect perspective about the hardships the natives went through as a society. Cry is a story about a Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and how he sets out to bring his family back to the community in which he resides. Kumalo, dealing with his family and congregation straying away from the church, does show the power of hope and faith and how it can rebuild broken relationships throughout the novel.

The tribal breakdown starts to show in book 1, with the land that the tribe must use and how the poeple of Ndotsheni have used up the natural resourses that used to lay within the community. The whites pushed the tribe out of where the community used to reside. The land was so rich that it was decribed as " holy, being even as it came from the creator"(3). In the rural areas much of this decay came as a result of the tight confinned living areas that the blacks were forced to live upon. With such a mass population and such a small place to occupy it is only a matter of time before the land is no longer able to be farmed. The decay of the tribe was not only confined to the natural resources of the land but also resulted in a moral and physical decline of the entire population. In result of these conditions, many people left the tribe to go to Johannesburg where there"s a false hope for a new start in life. A hope that almost vanished when Komalo left. Without his strong moral belief in God the people where left with nothing but a decaying landscape. Even though it may seem as if all hope is lost for a decent life in the tribal community, it is within this time that the relationships between others are tested and drawn closer through the power of hope and faith.

As a result of this breakdown within the tribal society there are some positive results to be gained from the decay of the tribe. Such positivity comes from the rebuilding of relationships trough hope. Kumalo relizes that there is still love between himself and his brother. He knows this because of the common view points that he shares. John said that the only hope that he sees is for the blacks and whites to work together in love for the good of the country. It is through Kumalo"s religous representation that one can relizes that the religon of the societies is what holds them together. Kumalo not only represents a religous leader throughout the novel but also a man who gives hope to the people of Johannesburg, indiviguals and his own community. The people ask "God to have mercy upon us"(58), for they still believe that through love for the country the diffrences between them can be settled out in the end. There is still optimism that also remains, even in Shanty Town, they dance around the fire and sing "God save Africa"(58). Not only does the rebuilding of Kumalo"s relationships help him but also for the greater benifit of his community in Ndotsheni.

Arthur Jarvis shows great hope and inspiration to the black and white people of Africa. He is so willing to help others that he gives up an opprentunity for a successful buisseness carrier to spread his views. He is definitly smbolic of the Christ figure within the novel. Unfortunitly through his death his father begins to question his own personal moral beliefs that has been so engrained within his mind. Thus through the death of his son, Jarvis, realizes what wrongs that have been taking place in his country "I understand what I did not understand. There is no anger in me"(181). Through this new undertsanding there is a change in the way that Kumalo and Jarvis see each other. Again Kumalo sees Jarvis within a new light seeing him as a caring father, empolyer and someone who cares deeply for the village of Ndotsheni. Even though hardship and deaths have been experienced in the novel through the power of love one realizes that hope never dies. It is only fadded and always with a little faith can come back to life again.

Within the novel Cry there is a moral, physical and agricultural decay within the entire country. A problem so immense it is almost beyond the point of repair. But yet throughout the novel one man and what he respresents not only holds the society together but gives the society a brighter futrure to look at. Kumalo ia a man of religon. Even through the worst times his personal faith and hope for the country was greater then the problem at hand. This in turn gave others a hope in what the furture may hold for them. Kumalo, struggling to keep his family and community together demnostrates the power of religon as a glue for a broken society. 

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