An Analysis of the Problems Affecting South Africa in Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

Alan Paton’s Cry, The Beloved Country is a powerful novel that takes a look at many of the problems troubling South Africa. Segregation, economic inequality, decadence, and the destruction of the family unit are some of the problems discussed in this work. The title of the novel is simply saying that all of these problems are more than enough to bring a person to tears; a person like Kumalo cries for his beloved country; a person like Jacob Jarvis cries for his beloved country, after finding out all of his son’s efforts.

Good men and women cry for their beloved country as it is being torn apart by hatred and destruction.

The problem of economic inequality is consistent throughout the novel. It can be seen early on when Kumalo goes to Johannesburg. He notices that white people no longer take the train because they can afford to have their own cars. The mines are another excellent illustration of the economic inequality that has plagued South Africa, and particularly Johannesburg.

The white mine owners get richer as the days go on, and the natives work and sweat for barely enough money to feed themselves or their families. Also, the price increase on the buses demonstrates this problem. For a wealthy, white person, an increase of one shilling for a bus ride may not be that significant, but for a black person who makes only thirty-five or forty shillings, this is a dramatic price increase; so dramatic, that the black population has boycotted taking the bus.

Get quality help now
Prof. Finch

Proficient in: Cry the Beloved Country

4.7 (346)

“ This writer never make an mistake for me always deliver long before due date. Am telling you man this writer is absolutely the best. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

The strike in the gold mines is yet another display of economic inequality in Johannesburg. The natives wanted change so they went on strike, but the white men in power quickly ended the strike, so nothing was accomplished. The economic problems of South Africa are not likely to disappear quickly.

Segregation and racial oppression is another constant problem that is focused on throughout the novel. The rich, white mine owners often mistreat the native workers by not paying them enough and there is no attempt by anyone to rectify this. As the racial division and oppression increase, there is an increase in crime committed by natives. Arthur Jarvis is found dead and that is reported in the headlines. All are saddened because he was a great fighter for justice and racial equality. With all the fear and hatred in South Africa, it is hard to see an end to the problems that plague this beautiful land.

The problems of decadence and the destruction of the family unit are what pain Kumalo the most. He came to Johannesburg in an attempt to reunite his broken family and the tribe, but instead he finds total decadence and the destruction of his family. His sister, Gertrude, is the reason he was first summoned to Johannesburg. Her illness is not a physical one, but one of the soul. She has become a prostitute and this takes a toll on Kumalo. His son, who he hasn’t heard from in years, has now been found guilty of murder. Absalom has also impregnated a young girl and marries her before he is hanged. His brother, who is a powerful politician, is corrupt and has completely abandoned the ways of the tribe. These problems of Kumalo’s family cause him much pain and suffering.

Cry, The Beloved Country is telling the country to weep for its misdeeds. So much destruction and hatred is bad for the health of the country. The beautiful land of South Africa is overwhelmed with problems that are causing it to split. As Kumalo discovers, these problems all arise from the individual family unit. Cry, South Africa cry.

Cite this page

An Analysis of the Problems Affecting South Africa in Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. (2023, Jan 12). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7