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Rebirth of Ndotsheni in Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

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  • Category: Africa

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Throughout history, there have been multiple occurrences of racism and injustice. Albeit possible to destroy a community with prejudice and drought, it is also possible to rebuild after such destruction. South Africa experienced such a time both during and after Apartheid. Author Alan Paton describes this period of repair in South African history with his novel Cry, the Beloved Country. Throughout the novel, Paton proves that the resiliency of communities can hold a culture together with the rebuilding of Ndotsheni and the compassion of characters. The restoration of Ndotsheni from its previously deconstructed state is aided by the work of the young demonstrator. The demonstrator is sent to Ndotsheni from another village to help the people understand how to tend to their valley. When Kumalo asks of his plans, the demonstrator says, “There is to be a dam…so that the cattle always have water to drink. And the water from the dam can be let out through a gate, and can have water from this land and that, and can water the pastures that are planted” (Paton 287).

The demonstrator helps the people of Ndotsheni understand how to tend to the valley; without this aid, the valley would lose all signs of fertility. This repairs not only the farmland but the spirit of the people as a result of the restoration of their jobs. This demonstrator is called to Ndotsheni by James Jarvis, a white man overseeing the land. Through the work of the young demonstrator, “there is a beginning made on the restoration of the land…this, in turn, is a halting step towards the restoration of brotherhood—one human being reaching out toward another across the barriers of fear and prejudice”(Callan 7). James Jarvis crosses the threshold of prejudice and reaches out to the people of Ndotsheni by calling the demonstrator to the valley. This shows great compassion, which therefore restores the relationship between blacks and whites not only in Ndotsheni, but in South Africa as a whole as well. Along with the work of the demonstrator, the strength of the people and the compassion of all races as a whole is portrayed through the work done in Ezenzeleni.

Ezenzeleni is a colony for the blind of any race. The narrator explains the compassion in the work of Ezenzeleni by saying, “here the blind, that dragged out their days in a world they could not see, here they had eyes given to them…it was the white men who did this work of mercy” (Paton 121). The compassion of the white man is shown though their work with the blind. Ezenzeleni is a place of unity between the whites and blacks, who work together for a better cause: helping the blind fulfill their lives. This shows that it is possible for the whites and the blacks to come together to work for a similar cause.

They cross the barrier of prejudice and racism to unite. With the theme of compassion developed through Ezenzeleni, “Paton transforms the novel…to a visionary, pastoral romance in which the sympathy of men for each other and the interplay of man and nature accomplish the will of God” (Bloom 16). The sympathy of man is developed with Ezenzeleni, and man and nature combine within the colony to accomplish God’s goal of unity between races. The white man’s sympathy towards the blind black men shows ‘pastoral romance’ as the races unite and are able to coexist within one colony. The rebuilding of Ndotsheni and the compassion of characters proves that communities can hold a culture together in Alan Paton’s novel Cry, the Beloved Country. Alan Paton discusses South African history of Apartheid, a time of prejudice between South African ethnicities. After a period of destruction, rebuilding of a community and culture is possible. Racism and prejudice has occurred multiple times throughout history.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. “Summary and Analysis.” Literary Reference Center. EBSCO, 03 Mar. 2005. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. Callan, Edward. “Book Three: Restoration.” Cry, the Beloved Country: A Novel of South Africa: [a Study]. Boston: Twayne, 1991. N. pag. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. Paton, Alan. Cry, the Beloved Country. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1948. Print.

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