Cry, The Beloved Country recap

I love it when we meet for book club in someone’s home! It means a cozy setting and often yummy treats.

And of course great conversations!

Cry, The Beloved Country brought five of us together Monday night. Some thought the court scene gripped us the most, others found the hunt for Absalom our favorite part.

I know others read it and were unable to come. I’d love to know your thoughts on the book. Leave a comment if you feel so led.

“But there is only one thing that has power completely,
and that is love. Because when a man loves he seeks no power,
and therefore he has power.”
-Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country

Discussion Questions: Cry, The Beloved Country

Hey ladies! Here are some questions to get your mind rolling on our upcoming discussion of Cry, The Beloved Country. It’s not that we expect you to know the answers to all of these questions; it’s that more perspectives enrich the conversation.

Monday, August 16th. Paradise Bakery, Hamilton Town Center. 7pm. See you there!

*This book traces how the loss of faith, the breakdown of the family concept and
communication between people leads to moral breakdowns and a complexity of problems. Note the particulars of these losses and those breakdowns.

*In one or two sentences articulate the theme of this novel, a theme that is universal applying to all people at all times of history.

*What is Alan Paton’s greatest concern in this novel? How does he define racial reconciliation?

*The opening poetic scenes of the novel introduce beauty and ugliness. How does this
foreshadow themes?

*The concept of fear is found on almost every page. In what way does this contribute to the story? What is Paton’s spiritual answer to the problem of fear in Book III?

*What does the main character Stephen Kumalo have to learn? How does he change?” What
does he do that shows you his dark places? What role does Msimangu play in Stephen’s spiritual progress?

(I took these questions from the Moody Radio Book Club Discussion Questions for Cry, The Beloved Country. )

Alan Paton

Alan Paton
January 11 1903 – April 12 1988

-born in Pietermaritzburg, Natal Province -I had to look this place up my South African geography is a bit rusty. Now it’s callled KwaZulu-Natal.

-he went to Maritzburg College and the University of Natal, then he was a high school teacher.

-He later was a principal of the Diepkloof Reformatory where he introduced a new way of reform with an open dormitory policy, work permit policy, and home visitation policy.

-after WWII he spent some time touring other reformatories across the world. This is when he started writing Cry, The Beloved Country.

-he was a anti-apartheid activist.

-he wrote several other works with the continued theme of the race and politics of South Africa

-His personal motto was, “South Africa must be saved one person at a time.”

An Introduction to Cry, The Beloved Country

I have begun reading and attempting to process Cry, The Beloved by Alan Paton. As I read it, I imagine myself talking in an African dialect. Having lived in India, it comes to the soundtrack of my imagination quite easily as we were surrounded by English speaking Afrikaners.

If you need a little bit of help understanding the book, check out Book Rags or Spark Notes.

It is true that this book ISN’T so Pollyanna as Anne of Green Gables, yet it provides a rich experience with which to broaden our horizons, expand our vocabulary, and enter into a different culture from a safe distance. We can also learn a little history about apartheid.

So what is the book about?

Here is my child’s version . . .

a priest and his wife have stuck to their old ways. But most of their family, including their only son have wanted a more exciting life—the big city. In an attempt to locate the family and bring them home, said priest takes all their savings to journey into the city that swallows people up and takes them prisoners. On his journey he is able to reclaim some but also meets much grief and sadness. And it appears that he uses up most of his money.

That is all I have read so far. Enlightening, ehh? Let me find something more profession and well thought out.

Alas, I can not find a SHORT summary. They are all VERY long. So you might as well read the book. How’s that?

As you begin to read, look for some of these themes (found from another book club who read this book). These will only get you started. Other themes can be found in the link that I previously provided for you.

  • Biblical/Christian Influence. Cry, the Beloved Country is written in a Biblical style.
  • Opposites. The novel is full of opposites: the land (compare introductory paragraphs to section 1 and section 2); black versus white; poor versus rich.
  • Johannesburg Versus the Country . Cry, the Beloved Country contrasts the rural and urban ways of life.
  • Balance of Black Versus White. One of the novel’s goals seems to be to offer a balanced portrayal of both white and black perspectives without condemning either side.
  • Women. What role do women play in the novel? How do the injustices they face affect them? Do they suffer from injustices that the men do not?
  • South African Society.