Major Works Data Sheet
Title: Cry, the Beloved CountryAuthor: Alan PatonDate of Publication: 1948Genre: Social Criticism
| Relevant Biographical Information About the Author: * White * Born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa in 1903 * Father was Scottish and mother was South African of English heritage * Worked at a reformatory with black youths
| Historical information about the period of publication: * South Africa already colonized by Europeans * Rampant racism * Introduction of apartheid in 1948
| Characteristics of the Genre * Show author’s disenchantment with a certain aspect of society * Deals with racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. * Usually a call for action, to get readers to support a cause or issue
| Plot Summary Stephen Kumalo, a priest in the small South African village of Ndotsheni receives a letter stating that he must travel to Johannesbur, New York City of South Africa. Upon arriving to Johannesburg, Kumalo is overwhelmed but is helped by a fellow priest named Msimangu. Kumalo finds his sister Gertrude living the life of a prostitute and attempts to sway her from her ways. While various events occur that teach the listener and Kumalo about the racial cleavages plaguing the country, Kumalo discovers that his son who he came to Johannesburg to find has accidentally murdered a prominent black South African rights advocate, Arthur Jarvis. Kumalo befriends his son’s pregnant girlfriend and takes her under his wing as a sort of adopted child. Absalom is eventually ruled guilty of murder by the South African courts and is sentenced to hang. Grief stricken, Kumalo returns to his village to find it in a state of disrepair. While in Johannesburg we were introduced to Arthur Jarvis’ father, James Jarvis who comes into an uneasy relationship/friendship with Kumalo at this point. Arthur Jarvis’ son, who is learning Zulu and is eager to learn about the Black South African culture, introduces many helpful reforms to the village...
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