Cry, the Beloved Country: Change


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In undertaking a journey, a person learns and changes.
One may change emotionally, psychologically, as well as spiritually. The
journeyer is scared at first, then usually goes through some pain and
suffering.
In the end, however, this journeyer comes out different then they were when
they began, with some understanding. Stephan Kumalo, James Jarvis, and
Absalom Kumalo undertake this very thing in Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan
Paton. Stephan Kumalo, a priest from the small native town of Ndotsheni,
takes a journey to the great city of Johannesburg. He intends to find his
sick sister and his son, Absalom, who has gone away. At first, Stephan has
"the fear of the unknown, the fear of the great city"(44) where his loved
ones had gone to and not written in months.
Not long after he begins, he realizes "this is a bitter journey"(55) upon
hearing the occupations and practices of his sister. He goes through pain and
suffering, more and more as he learns of his brother's loss of faith in the
church, and the murder his son has committed. But, soon enough he comes to an
understanding of this world in Johannesburg. He learns why there is so much
crime and poverty. He then has hope the success of his daughter in-law and
his nephew in Ndotsheni. He gains hope for the rebuilding of the tribe.
Stephan Kumalo comes away from his journey changing spiritually and knowing
that there is "comfort in a world of desolation"(94). He changes emotionally
and becomes stronger. Also, he changes psychologically and learning the
troubles of Johannesburg and apartheid, and their various causes. James
Jarvis undergoes vast changes during his journey. He is told that his son has
been killed, and he leaves for Johannesburg at once. His son, Arthur, was a
social activist helping natives in South Africa, trying to get better
hospitals and schools for them. These are subjects James Jarvis never thought
about much.
 When he arrives at his son's house, the place of Arthur's death, he reads
through some of his manuscripts and books. First, James suffers a lot
thinking about his son's death. As he reads through some of his books and
papers however, he comes to an understanding how great a man his son was, and
what he stood for. "He sat smoking his pipe and was lost in thought"(180)
after he reads a manuscript on what is permissible and what is not

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permissible in South Africa.
When James returns home, he comes back changed and decides to finish some of
his son's work. He dedicates himself to help save Ndotsheni, the near by
decaying native town. The people say "he's going queer"(277) after they see
him give milk to Ndotsheni, build a dam for Ndotsheni, and hire an
agricultural demonstrator for Ndotsheni. After his journey, he walks away
refined, with a better understanding of his world. Absalom Kumalo is a
journeyer as well in Cry, the Beloved Country. He begins his journey by
leaving his home town of Ndotsheni to go to Johannesburg to find his aunt
Gertrude, who had left in search of her husband. Absalom, though not a bad
kid, quickly gets into trouble, turning to theft and robbery. He is sent off
to a reformatory school. The men in charge at the reformatory let him out
early because of his pregnant girlfriend that he wishes to marry. He later
breaks into a house with a revolver meant to scare, not to kill, but shoots
the owner Arthur Jarvis out of fear. He goes into hiding. Absalom "vowed to
not lie anymore", "nor do anything else that is evil"(199). After much pain
and suffering during questions from the police and his father, and during
time spent sitting alone in a jail cell, he comes to an understanding of what
has happened. He repents and prays. Absalom later writes to his father
Stephan that there will be no mercy for what he has done, and he will be
hung. He included that if he could return to Ndotsheni, he would not leave it
again.
 In Cry, the Beloved Country, these three characters take journeys, and
finish them changed and with better understandings. They, like any
journeymen, were apprehensive at first and did not know exactly what they
were getting into. After some hardships, their realization came to them. When
the journey was over, they had learned a lot. A journey is a learning cycle,
a refining machine. Though some will not make it all the way around, the
final result is change.


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