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Cry the beloved country, by alan paton, is a book which tells the story of how james jarvis, a wealthy estate owner who, because of his own busy life, had to learn of the social degradation in south africa through the death of his only son. If arthur jarvis had never been killed, james jarvis would never have been educated by his sons writings, and stephen kumalo.
When we first meet james jarvis, he knows little of his sons life. He doesn’t know his son “was on a kind of a mission”(p. 140), And this is why when harrison says,”…we’re scared stiff at the moment in johannesburg.”( p. 140) James is sort of surprised and says,”of crime?”(p. 140). Talking to harrison taught stephen about the crime in the city, and the next morning he learns about his son. One of the first things that james learns of his son, and his views, he learns in arthurs’ room. In reading his writings, james finds that arthur would have risked anything to help other people, and ended up doing just that. James finds that his son was well researched on the problems of their society, and was interested in helping the development of the social structure in south africa. From the pictures of jesus and lincoln on his wall, james discovered the admiration arthur had for these two men. These were men of action, who showed love for their friends, and at the same time, their enemies. These two men suffered and died for their beliefs, as did arthur in a way, this is showing arthurs’ father what a great man his son was by comparison, and similarity to others. This revelation shows arthurs concern for humanity.
After the discovery of his sons views through all of his writings, james begins to realize the problem, and starts to think of the problems of others before his own. In this aspect, james begins to remind the reader of oscar shindler. This is so because shindler was one who at one time hated jews, but as he began to understand them, he thuoght of their troubles and how his wealth could save them. Much like shindler, jarvis helps the minority. Following his sons death and the acquaintance of stephen, james donates 1000 pounds to the african boys club. Jarvis is not just giving gifts in memory of his son, or just to give, but giving those who need help ways to help themselves. When james gave the money to the club, he didn’t just decide to give it to them, but knew that if he gave it, the club would use it to improve the countrys’ condition. In all of his donations, james uses this subtle method to emancipate the blacks. A way to help his son taught him. Using his sons views again, james decides to do something about kumalos’ village, which is falling apart. This task is a fairly large one , and james does this in steps. He first provides milk for the village kids, who only have warm water to drink, and then he builds a church. The reason he decides to build a church is that when he is in ndotsheni it begins to rain, and he and stephen take shelter in the church, which leaks and is in need of repair. The rain in ndotsheni is a bit of foreshadowing of hope for the village, and maybe of what is to come.
Through james’ education, we learn the similarities between mr. Jarvis and kumalo. When we first meet jarvis, the setting is much the same as when we met stephen. They both live in the farming areas of south africa, and they share the love for the land, and what is in their lives. They each are married with one son who they know nothing about, and both are forced to come to terms with the guilt of the whites by the same occurance. After they both lose their sons, they have a need to understand them, although all that is left are the memories. They each learn of the problems in south africa through their sons, and after the realization, they both try to do something to improve the social, and racial differences which plague johannesburg.
Cry the beloved country i s a book meant to teach the ways racial views can affect people in different ways. The representation shows how these south african problems “educated” james jarvis, and turned him into a compassionate, and understanding man. If arthur jarvis had never been killed, james jarvis would not have been educated by his sons’ writungs and stephen kumalo.
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