For years the government of South Africa suppressed its black population. Oppression that wasn’t deserved, oppression based on difference in color. In both of these works, the cries of South Africa were heard. The cries of the black people that are the foundation of South Africa, the blacks that were the heart of what South Africa was all about. In both stories, there is the fact that the only way to change your ways sometimes has to come through suffering.
In Cry Freedom, we see change through extreme suffering in the character of Donald Woods. Woods starts out in the movie as being not really open to the ideas of black consciousness. He sees them as only getting the blacks into more trouble. After meeting Biko, he starts to warm up to the ideas the blacks hold precious, but when Biko dies, Woods becomes a whole new man. Immediately, Woods begins to notify the public about how these blacks are being treated. He changes the way he goes about fighting for the rights of the blacks. Before, he only stood behind the black population of South Africa. After Biko’s death, he leads them. He is looked down upon by most whites, and hate crimes, like when the police came to his house and shot through the windows, are committed against him and his family. Yet still, he fights. He moves his whole family away and writes a book to help the plighted blacks in South Africa. After Biko’s death, he begins to see himself as the only one who can continue Biko’s hope for South Africa.
In Cry, the Beloved Country, every character involved goes through severe suffering and it leads to change. Kumalo goes through tremendous suffering, with the death of his son. He has to face it, and begin to understand the many problems in the lives of the black population in South Africa. He leaves Johannesburg with a new and improved view on the changes taking in place in the South Africa that he used to know. We see Kumalo’s change after he returns to Ndotsheni. “Kumalo began to pray regularly in his church for the restoration of Ndotsheni. But he knew that was not enough. Somewhere down here upon the earth men must come together, think something, do something”(Paton 263). He now realizes that praying isn’t enough, that he has to work toward making South Africa a better place.
An Analysis of Cry, the Beloved Country
An Analysis of Cry, the Beloved Country
In Alan Paton’s novel Cry, the Beloved Country two characters, Absalom’s girl and Gertrude, show the how society in Johannesburg is as a whole. Absalom’s girl symbolizes how girls her age are mothers and have even become divorced several times before. On the other hand Gertrude, Kumalo’s sister, illustrates the qualities of a young woman who becomes corrupt from Johannesburg’s filthy system of stealing, lying, and prostitution. Both of them show the ways of Johannesburg as a whole.
When Gertrude is first found, by Kumalo, she is seen as a ragged and dirty person making her living as a prostitute. When Kumalo sees this he thinks of how she could have a much better living if she came back with him. This is, in essence, the same thing that Kumalo and the blacks are trying to do to Johannesburg. These people are trying to fix the corruption that has taken place in the city.
Gertrude, like many others who have come to Johannseburg, or who were even born there, were brought to a world where corruption is the key to living. This is the only way to make a decent life and so they stoop to the lowest levels possible, cheating and prostitution. And just like the rest Gertrude can’t be saved from what has become. Even though Kumalo tries to save her and the city of Johannesburg from what it has become it is known that once they have become what they have it’s impossible to change them back.
Absalom’s girl, on the other hand, symbolizes how the society gets into many difficulties at a very young age. This girl has already had several husbands and has a child. Like the rest of the population of Johannesburg she has been confronted by something she is not ready to face. Because of the way of life in this city her choices, along with many others, is half chance. Even though it seems to be the right thing it isn’t the same outside of the city.
Symbolism is also shown through Absalom’s girl to Absalom. Many people, in Johannesburg, have spouses who make a living by doing many bad things including stealing. Also, a great number have lost someone because of what they do, either by death or by getting arrested and prosecuted. Either way the people are taking a risk and it is shown by what happens to Absalom.