Boekverslag: Cry, The Beloved Country
Title: Cry, the beloved country
First publication: 1953
Reverend Stephen Kumalo (also called umfundsi) lives in Ndotsheni, South
Africa. One day he receives a letter from a man called Theophilus
Msimangu, a reverend in The Mission House in Johannesburg. The letter
says that Stephen's sister, Gertrude Kumalo, is very ill and Theophilus
asks him to come to Johannesburg to visit Gertrude. Stephen goes as soon
as possible. He leaves his church and his wife and goes to Johannesburg
When he arrives at the Mission House, he's welcomed by Theophilus. They
visit Gertrude. She only has to rest a few days, but she's glad that
Steven has come. Theophilus tells him about the bad situation in
Johannesburg. There are a lot of differences of opinions between the
black and the white people. Sometimes they kill each other. It's the
While Steven is in Johannesburg, he sees his brother John again. He
hasn't seen him for al least twenty years. He has become an important
black politician and also has his own shop. They talk a lot together.
One day there is an article in the newspaper:
'Murder in Parkworld. Well-known city engineer shot dead. Attacker's
thought to be natives'
There has been another murder. Steven's son and John's son committed it.
Steven's son says they only wanted to steel something and that he shot
the man to defend himself. There will be a trial.
Mister Jarvis is working at his farm in Ndotsheni. As usual the
police-car from Ixopoo was going to his house. A few minutes later it
went up to him in the field. The cops say that is his son was shot in
Johannesburg. Mister Jarvis goes to Johannesburg right away. He meets
John Harrison there, the brother of his dead son's wife. They talk about
Jarvis' son a lot. He was a writer. He wrote a lot about the bad
situation South Africa was in at this moment. Mister Jarvis reeds his
son's books a lot. After the funeral mister Jarvis stays for a while at
John's place. They are afraid. They think they're not safe.
Jarvis finished with his son's last book. It says: 'I shall devote
myself to the service of South Africa'. Jarvis decides to do the same.
Steven's son is being prosecuted. There's a trial. The judge pleads him
guilty. After court, Steven and mister Jarvis talk to each other. They
are not angry with each other. After a few days there was another
'Another murder tragedy in city. European shot dead by native
housebreaker', as the papers say.
They were shocked. It was a hard thing that this should happen at this
When Steven's going home, he shall take Gertrude and his son's future
wife with him. She is now his daughter. Steven's afraid because his
brother's politics are too dangerous. He always let the black people
make a riot. The black people are angry with the white people because
the are getting exploited. Steven's afraid his brother also gets
murdered. His brother disagrees and they go apart angry. At the day of
Steven's department, Gertrude is gone. She isn't coming to Ndotsheni.
When Steven is back in Ndotsheni, everybody is glad to seen him again.
The people accept his son's future wife. They all feel sorry for her.
The land is very dry. There's no milk and almost no water. The grass
isn't green, but yellow. The river has been dry for months. The people
cry for rain.
Steven begins to pray a lot in his church for the restoration of
Ndotsheni. But he knew that that was not enough. The people must come
together and do something.
There comes a message from mister Jarvis. He gives Steven milk for the
children. He wants to help Ndotsheni, like his son wanted to help South
Africa. There also came a letter from Johannesburg. Steven's son was to
be hanged on the fifteenth day of that month. There is rain.
Jarvis is building a dam for the people from the village. He also helps
the people to learn farming. He does a lot for the village, just like
his son wanted to do for South Africa. The valley of Ndotsheni is
becoming green again. There is more rain and Jarvis helps a lot. But,
unfortunately, Jarvis' wife dies suddenly. Steven wrote Jarvis a letter.
It says that he will pray for her every day in the church. There comes
an answer. It says that Jarvis is thankful for the prayers and that the
things he did for Ndotsheni were in memory of his beloved son. Jarvis
wants to build a new church.
The people work hard for Ndotsheni. They learn how to farm. They can be
proud of their 'new' valley.
On the fourteenth day, Steven goes up to the mountain. He always goes up
to the mountain when something important happens. On his way up, he
meets mister Jarvis. He says he will leave Ndotsheni. Jarvis shall keep
helping the village. He says: 'One thing is about to get settled, but
here is something that is only begun'. The trial is over, and the
restoration of Ndotsheni has begun.
On top of the mountain, Steven is praying. He prays for his son and for
Ndotsheni. He thanks the people from the Mission House and mister
Jarvis. When the sun rises the next day, he shouts:
'My son, my son, my son…'
The perspective is with Steven Kumalo, the main character in the book.
The main character is Steven Kumalo. He's a reverend in Ndotsheni, a
village in the hills of South Africa. When he gets a letter from a
colleague reverend, he goes to Johannesburg, to see his very sick sister
Gertrude. He also meets his brother John, who he hasn't seen for years,
again. In Johannesburg he sees the bad situation of the country, the
black labor-people don't take the work-pressure anymore. A lot of white
people get murdered and his brother John, a black politician, is doing
dangerous thins when he causes a riot when he speaks to his black
'brothers' in public not to take the pressure from the white people
The other characters are Mr. Jarvis, Steven's wife, Steven's brother
John, Steven's son Absalom, Steven's sister Gertrude and reverend
The book has 102 pages. The told time is about five weeks.
The story takes place in South Africa, mostly in Johannesburg and in
The book isn't too much exiting, but it also isn't totally boring
because there are a few murders in the book and that makes it more
Theme and motives
The theme is that a bad thing, something like a murder, can be the
beginning of a good thing. In this book the murder of Mr. Jarvis' son is
the beginning of the restoration of Ndotsheni, witch was a very poor and
dry village. The books of Jarvis' son about fighting for South Africa,
made Jarvis, a rich white farmer, help rebuild Ndotsheni, the hometown
of Steven Kumalo, who is the father of the murderer of Jarvis' son.
Explanation of the title
The title 'Cry, the beloved country' means that the people of South
Africa should cry for the state of their country. The country is dry and
there are a lot of fights between the black natives and the white
settlers. This is also the case in the murder in the book. A black man
committed the murder and the murdered person was a white man.
The sub-title 'A story of Comfort in Desolation' can be explained as:
the death of Jarvis' son, the desolation, indirect causes comfort, the
rebuild of Ndotsheni.
Kind of book
The book is a novel.
I don't like this book. It's not my type of book. The language witch is
spoken is also bad, it's too childish, just like you're some guy who
never heard of the language English. The story itself isn't interesting
at all. I wouldn't advise the book to somebody to reed it.
I didn't expect too much of the book when I rented it at the library
because it is a very thin book. It only has 102 pages so I thought it
couldn't be too good and I was right.
Paton was born in Pietermaritzburg, Natal Province (now KwaZulu-Natal), the son of a minor civil servant.After attending Maritzburg College, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Natal in his hometown, followed by a diploma in education. After graduation, Paton worked as a teacher, first at the Ixopo High School for White Students, and subsequently at a Pietermaritzburg high school While at Ixopo he met Dorrie Francis Lusted.They were married in 1928 and remained together until her death from emphysema in 1967.Their life together is documented in Paton's book Kontakion for You Departed, published in 1969. Paton and his secretary, Anne Hopkins, were married the same year.
- Cry, The Beloved Country
- Alan Stewart Paton
- Meer boeken van:Alan Stewart Paton