James Jarvis

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James Jarvis

In Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country there is two protagonists, Reverend Stephen Kumalo, and James Jarvis. Both characters play significant roles to the story but James Jarvis’ situation is noteworthy and inspirational. James is an influential, dynamic character because his opinion dramatically changes upon reading his son’s manuscript. A series of events influences James to shift his mindset into the mindset of his son. An analysis on James Jarvis’ changing mindset reveals that his son’s manuscript, realizing his shortcomings, and Reverend Kumalo are all things that cause him to change drastically.

When James’ son, Arthur, dies he visits Arthur’s home and finds his incomplete manuscript. When reading his writings, James finds that his son would have risked anything to help other people, and ended up doing just that. Although James is hurt by the fact that Arthur writes about his parents in a negative way "..But of South Africa I learned nothing at all.” (207), James takes the criticism and improves from it by continuing his son’s battle. James discovers that his son researches tremendously on the problems of their society, and was seeking help in the development of the social structure in South Africa. Arthur’s house contains hundreds of books and “…between the books there were four pictures, of Christ crucified, and Abraham Lincoln, and the white gabled house of Vergelegen, and a painting of leafless willows by a river in a wintry veld.” (176) From these pictures of Jesus, Lincoln, the gabled hose, and the leafless willow discloses the symbolism that Arthur admires. Jesus and Lincoln were men of action; they showed love for their friends, and at the same time, their enemies. These two men suffered and died for their beliefs, the same way Arthur did. A water willow represents freedom, therefore, it can be concluded that the painting of the leafless willows represents a loss of freedom for the blacks in South Africa and how Arthur...
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