Cry the Beloved Country

by Alan Paton

"Cry, the Beloved Country" portrays the enduring love parents hold for their children amidst the challenges of society. The narrative revolves around Stephen Kumalo's journey to Johannesburg in search of his sister and son. Despite its 1948 origin, the themes remain relevant in modern times. In Johannesburg, Stephen encounters his brother, sister, and son, each grappling with the corrosive effects of greed and urbanization.


Paton employs these familial encounters as caricatures, highlighting the disintegration caused by societal changes. The pervasive influence of apartheid affects the Kumalos and other characters of colour, revealing systemic victimization. However, Paton intricately weaves these characters together, emphasizing their interconnectedness.


Central to the narrative are the father-son relationships, notably between Stephen and Absalom Kumalo, and James and Arthur Jarvis. Both sets of sons are drawn to the city, only to meet tragic ends, leading their fathers to confront their grief and understand each other in their rural homeland.


Paton utilizes simple yet profound language, employing natural symbols like soil erosion to signify the family's fragmentation into Johannesburg's chaos. Biblical allusions further enrich the narrative, as characters embody traits reminiscent of Christian martyrs.


The book's concluding quote hints at hope for reconciliation and restoration, suggesting that overcoming societal issues like racism and apartheid requires love and mutual respect. Only when fear and ignorance no longer dictate relationships can true unity and restoration occur.

Neema Wandabwa

Rating: 4 Interesting



This book follows the journey of a reverend called Stephen Kumalo going to Johannesburg from a village called Ndotsheni. He goes to Johannesburg to look for his son who went, but never came back, and to help his sister who has fallen ill. When he goes to Johannesburg, he finds out that his sister is a prostitute, and sells alcohol. He persuades her to go back to Ndotsheni with her son. He then starts looking for his son, Absalom. Stephen’s brother helps him. He eventually finds out that his son was staying in a reformatory and that he had gotten a girl pregnant. Stephen’s son is then arrested for killing a white man. He then confesses to killing the man, but says that his cousin helped him. Stephen Kumalo’s brother tries to remove his son from it, even though it would make Absalom stay in jail longer. Absalom ends up getting death penalty. The girl that was pregnant with Absalom’s child made a deal with Stephen Kumalo that she would marry Absalom, and go back to Ndotsheni as Stephen’s daughter in law. When they went back to Ndotsheni, a boy visited Stephen Kumalo while he was on holiday to learn zulu. He tells the boy about problems that the village is facing, and the boy helps them. In the end, Kumalo did not get his family together, but had a hope for the future. He helped Absalom’s wife and his sister’s son to start anew life outside the toxicity of Johannesburg.

Angel Mailu

Rating: 5 Recommend