There are many themes wrapped up in the storyline of the journey of an old rural priest travelling across the country to the great city of Johannesburg. Along the way, the changing countryside is vividly described, the people are characterized in a way that makes them very real and the unstable social climate is presented through various interactions. This book tells a story of adventure, loss, heartbreak, redemption, restoration, betrayal, faith, hope and love.
Above all, it is evident that the author had a deep love for his country, with an undogged patriotism that didn't grow faint in the face of extreme oposition. He felt compelled to write a story based in his setting, during his time, that conveyed the situation and raw emotions as he was experiencing them. Through his courage to write such a book and his talent to weave such a story, Mr. Paton has brought to life a time in history that most people in the world have never experienced. There is a very good reason why students around the globe are required to read this book.
I highly recommend "Cry, the Beloved Country" as a book that will cause you to stop and think about what is happening around you and how kindness and love can change the lives of those around you.
Here are two portions of the book that I found moving:
And money is not something to go mad about, and throw your hat into the air for. Money is for food and clothes and comfort, and a visit to the pictures. Money is to make happy the lives of children. Money is for security, and for dreams, and for hopes, and for purposes. Money is for buying the fruits of the earth, of the land where you were born. - pp 204-205And...
- This world is full of trouble, umfundisi.
- Who knows it better?
- Yet you believe?
Kumalo loked at him under the light of the lamp. I believe, he said, but I have learned that it is a secret. Pain and suffering, they are a secret. Kindness and love, they are a secret. But I have learned that kindness and love can pay for pain and suffering. There is my wife, and you, my friend, and these people who welcomed me, and the child who is so eager to be with us here in Ndotsheni - so in suffering I can believe.
- I have never thought that a Christian would be free of suffering, umfundisi. For our Lord suffered. And I come to believe that he suffered, not to save us from suffering, but to teach us how to bear suffering. For He knew that there is no life without suffering. - pp 260-261