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"Cry, The Beloved Country": A 5 page research paper on how apartheid influences the book.

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  • March 14, 2006
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"Cry, the Beloved Country", by Alan Paton, is a book about agitation and turmoil of both whites and blacks over the white segregation policy called apartheid. The book depicts how whites and blacks can end mutual fear and aggression, and bring reform and hope to South Africa.

Apartheid is defined as "a policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of So. Africa" (Apartheid 53). The segregation of Europeans and non-Europeans on the South African trains is an example of apartheid. Kumalo, being a native South African priest, "climbed into the carriage [train] for non-Europeans" (Paton 43). The court, in which Absalom's trial is being held, is also segregated into a European side and a non-European side: "At the back of the court there are seats rising in tiers, those on the right for Europeans, those on the left for non-Europeans, according to the custom" (Paton 190). These separations are the result of the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act passed by the Nationalist government in 1953: "Forced segregation in all public amenities, public buildings, and public transport with the aim of eliminating contact between whites and other races" (Boddy-Evans 2). The color of a man's skin and the background from where he came should never determine whether he must sit in the front of a train or in the back. These laws were created because the Europeans believed the natives to be of a lower social status than everyone else.

Once apartheid had been implemented, the segregated natives were no longer considered citizens of South Africa; rather, they were recognized as citizens of the nominally independent "homelands". Kumalo eventually discovers that his son, Absalom, lives in one of these "homelands": "he [Absalom] was gone to Orlando, and lives there amongst the squatters in Shanty Town" (Paton 80). The Bantu Authorities Act of 1951 and the Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act of 1959 created "ten African...