Home > Free Essays > Literature > World Literature > Racial Inequality in “Cry, the Beloved Country” by Paton

Racial Inequality in “Cry, the Beloved Country” by Paton Essay

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Dec 30th, 2021


The book “Cry the Beloved Country” has been written by Paton, who has indicated the ‘Beloved Country’ as to being on the run for the South African literature demonstrating about apartheid. This is a novel with a story of the authentic journey from the remote areas to the city of Johannesburg and the religious journey through the unfriendly culture. Rev. Kumalo who is an Anglican cleric from Zulu-land has begun the journey to the city to visit his sister and to identify the where-about of his son. His son, Absalom lost contact with his father from the time they were together in the village. His brother John and associate cleric, Msimangu, assisted him to find his lost son. He was amazed that his son had been jailed for the reason that he committed a murder. When Absalom is convicted, he went back to the village in the company of Absalom’s wife and the baby who had just been born. Kumalo is highly stressed by the society he lives in and he suffers a lot as he goes through such a tyrannical community. This forced him to re-assess his principles as a cleric and he is really troubled.

The tone of the novel

The tone used in the novel is compared to a parable with regards to a far country or land which is full of beauty. This is indicated also in the way that suggests the inclusion of the idyllic background with many indecent things being executed. There is the indication of that the ever green environment is indeed delicate and it’s mutually depended on humans. The book indicates that if the land is destroyed, the people also are destroyed. The country is therefore of the tone of crying as their beloved country is being oppressed and abandon to undergo pain and suffering by individuals whose objective is the gold. There is the comfort of hope at the end of the tunnel that one day there will be balance and lack of social injustices in their beloved country.

Inequality and injustice

In the book, Kumalo’s quest to find his son is taking place in a way which is not in accordance with the increased social inequalities. This has indicated that it’s the root cause of Absalom’s troubles or rather the main issue which escalates them. The black Africans are only permitted to posses meager pieces of land and there are high levels of tax on these areas. The issue of overgrazing and over-planting has made the land to be pointed and unfriendly. This explains why most people leave the villages for the cities where they hope to secure employment especially the young people. The social injustice has elicited the young people participate in crime activities so as to earn a living. Absalom and Gertrude are among the people who left the village but they are challenged by the economic situations in Johannesburg which exposes them to danger.

The racial injustices which were rampant in the town have availed little or no opportunities for the young people who resort to crime so as to earn a living. This also has escalated the tribal traditions and the lack of being together with their families. Its is clear that the whites are the rich as indicated by the high number of the blacks being in gangs so as to rob the whites off their vast wealth. This also has increased the social injustices from the whites in the places where the whites worked such as the mines. Since they become paranoid. This results in a viscous cycle of injustices in the Beloved Country. The social injustices have been escalated by the sizes of land which enables the aborigines to plant only the famous maize in their small lands. The whites on the other hand had very large sizes of land which are very fertile that enables them to plant various types of crops. The equipments used for farming were only within the whites while the black people had none and in most cases they had never set their eyes on any of them. This has a high effect to them during the periods with no rains where they really suffer since they lack what to eat while on the other hand the whites do not suffer any pitch since their scale of production is high. This leaves the black Africans with increased and unstoppable poverty. There is therefore increased level of the black Africans to the cities in search of food and most cases they will not come back but rather they involve themselves in crime, prostitution among others.

The laws which are being enforced in the country have been made by the whites. This makes the laws to be unjust by all means as they do not represents the will of all the citizens but it serves the interest of the whites only. The church also has been portrayed as a means of facilitating social injustices in the country. This is indicated when the John Kumalo brought it to the consent of his brothers that Christianity is perpetuating injustices since the whites priest are paid more than the blacks.

Jervis’s character is highly developed toward the end as they reconcile with the Kumalo. This is when Jervis became informed of the old man’s distress and the kindness which he had. Stephen Kumalu is portrayed to be the man with love and loves himself, wife, son, inlaws and God.

Social breakdown and racial injustice

The society presented in the novel cry the beloved city is very unfair. It is divided into racial lines where there are blacks and the whites. The blacks are discriminated by the white people in terms of resource sharing. Black people are required to provide labor for businesses which belong to the white people in exchange of little cash. There is a problem of social disintegration as a result of the aborigines being relocated to far away. This takes them far away from their social organizations to bring their stability within themselves. Examples of broken down structures includes surveillance of laws and customs, and valuing of elders.

Crime rate among the Blacks is very high due to homelessness, low wages, and poor living conditions. For example in this book Msimangu reflects this situation to the reader when he was explaining to Kumalo that, the white man has “broken the tribe “and as a result many young people are breaking the law. In the same case Arthur Javis make the same comments when he says that, currently their national is just producing criminals and whores. He makes it clear that it is not nature, but because their simple system of order and tradition has been disrupted. He says that they need to come up with another system of order, tradition and convection. It is a misfortune that has smacked the country where the blacks are exploited that leads to failure of the whole life. This exploitation extends to the family which is left after one of their members go to town. Gertrude decided to go to town in search of her husband who has never come back after getting a job in Johannesburg.

Descriptions of nature

This novel has revealed the theme of nature description. There are elucidations of the beauty of Natal which gives a clear picture between various types of lives in South Africa. There descriptions have their own meaning for example the ugliness brought forth by politics show the need for change and a layer of hope. It doesn’t matter the ruggedness of the land provided it is fertile.


At some instances in the novel some characters become angry. A good example is Msimangu breaks into anger on hearing that Absalom has abandoned his girlfriend. He gets several upsets from his wife, his son’s girlfriend and his brother. Although the characters are quick at getting angry their repentance is always met by forgiveness. The truth is that social relationships can be separated by anger but at the same time they can be brought together by repentance.

Repeated phrases

This novel has some instances of repeated phrases. These phrases bring a different meaning every time they appear. For example “as was the custom” or “it was not the custom”. The repetition of these phrases shows the reader how these acts of rebelliousness are repeated.

This essay on Racial Inequality in “Cry, the Beloved Country” by Paton was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

801 certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2021, December 30). Racial Inequality in “Cry, the Beloved Country” by Paton. https://ivypanda.com/essays/racial-inequality-in-cry-the-beloved-country-by-paton/


IvyPanda. (2021, December 30). Racial Inequality in “Cry, the Beloved Country” by Paton. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/racial-inequality-in-cry-the-beloved-country-by-paton/

Work Cited

"Racial Inequality in “Cry, the Beloved Country” by Paton." IvyPanda, 30 Dec. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/racial-inequality-in-cry-the-beloved-country-by-paton/.

1. IvyPanda. "Racial Inequality in “Cry, the Beloved Country” by Paton." December 30, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/racial-inequality-in-cry-the-beloved-country-by-paton/.


IvyPanda. "Racial Inequality in “Cry, the Beloved Country” by Paton." December 30, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/racial-inequality-in-cry-the-beloved-country-by-paton/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Racial Inequality in “Cry, the Beloved Country” by Paton." December 30, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/racial-inequality-in-cry-the-beloved-country-by-paton/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Racial Inequality in “Cry, the Beloved Country” by Paton'. 30 December.

Powered by CiteTotal, essay citation generator
More related papers