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  Grade 10 Reviews
  Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

Review by: Laura P.
North Carolina, Grade 10

The beautiful rolling hills and bustling cities of Africa come to life in Alan Patonís Cry, the Beloved Country. These strictly segregated lands are all traveled through by the native Reverend Stephen Kumalo. Unfortunately, Kumalo has little time to appreciate the beauty of Africa while searching for missing family members throughout the corrupt cities. To make matters worse, Kumalo finds his son, Absalom, wrongfully accused as the cold blooded murderer of a prominent white activist. Cry, the Beloved Country follows Reverend Kumalo on his journey for racial justice, and equality, as well as forgiveness and eventually, redemption.
Reverend Kumalo is perhaps the noblest character I have ever come across. Not only does Kumalo forgive he son and estranged family for their horrifying behavior, but cares for them as well as for those they have hurt. While we see Kumaloís merciful side, Alan Paton also manages to create moments of doubt within Kumalo. We get to see the inner struggles Kumalo faces, which create a well rounded character. Not everything is black and white, or good or evil. Alan Paton not only creates these inner struggles within Kumalo, but with all the other equally as believable characters in his book. The evil living inside all these honorable people makes the characters so believable you cannot doubt their existence.
While most of the story was told in Reverend Kumaloís perspective by an omniscient narrator, the narrator later switched to the perspective of the murdered manís father, James Jarvis. Jarvis is a man who undoubtedly loves his son, but strongly disagrees with his pro-native or pro-integration stance. Although I enjoyed Reverend Kumaloís story, I enjoyed the new pace and emotion Jarvisí perspective brought to the book.


Another curious thing about the books set up, was the dialogue groupings. Characters sentences were mostly connected together by small dashes at the beginning of the sentences; however, this format became confusing when more than one character was speaking. I easily lost track of who was saying what, causing me to reread the same text numerous times to simply find out who was speaking. The format was so aggravating to me because I couldnít sufficiently keep up with the unfolding action, when I wanted, so badly, too.
After so many years of reading books based on civil rights, I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed another civil rights story. Unlike many books, we get to see the segregation in Africa. An event I never expected to take place there. Who would have imagined such injustices amongst the black peoples in Africa imposed on them by white people? I sure didnít. Such a setting change made this story of racial equality much different and much more interesting than the usual list of too similar books.
Overall, I enjoyed the bitter- sweet story of Cry, the Beloved Country. The author, Alan Paton, managed to create beautiful and well rounded characters in a hostile environment in the shocking setting of Africa. Paton not only told the story of Reverend Stephen Kumalo but the heart wrenching story of Jarvis. Although, I often had times deciphering the dialogue, Cry, the Beloved Country, has definitely become one of my new favorites.

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