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Essay on The White Man's Fear Depicted in Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

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The time of the 1940’s in South Africa was defined by racial oppression of the native inhabitants of the country by the Dutch Boers, also known as the Afrikaners. These people were the demographic minority yet also the political majority. They executed almost complete control over the lives of the natives through asinine rules and harsh punishments. The highly esteemed novel Cry, the Beloved Country tells a story of Stephen Kumalo, a black priest dealing with the struggles of living in the South Africa during this time. His son killed a white man and on the day his son is to be hanged for this crime, Kumalo climbs a mountain in order to reflect on the current situation both in his family and in his country. In chapter 36 of Cry, the Beloved Country, Alan Paton uses a motif and symbolism to demonstrate the idea that bondage of both the natives and the Afrikaners is prolonged in South Africa because of the whites’ fear.
In the middle of the passage, Paton uses the motif of fear to explain why the Afrikaners are afraid. Paton shows this message when he says, “[Salvation] lay far off because men were afraid of it…of [Kumalo], and his wife, and Msimangu, and the young demonstrator.” All the people listed are native Africans. All of them strive for a change to the current condition of their people. All of them believe that salvation will come and they work tirelessly to achieve it. However, in the eyes of the Afrikaner men, the change and the deliverance that comes to the natives are not beneficial. It only works to disrupt the white-dominated society they have set up. They see change as the enemy and thus they fear the promoters of change. The motif of fear is continued when Paton explains that the Afrikaner’s fear was “so deep that...


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... way, using dawn as a symbol for emancipation from oppression and fear acts to show both its unpredictable yet unavoidable, and beneficial properties.
In conclusion, through the use of a motif and symbolism in chapter 36 or Cry the Beloved Country, Alan Paton is able to relay the message that the Afrikaners’ binds them and until they are able to feel compassion for those they oppress, they will continue to be held in captivity by their minds. The lives of these white men and women are consumed with being afraid of what the blacks will do to them. They are unable to enjoy life because they are constantly nervous about a potential native threat. They are also the unknowing victims of their oppression. We are able to see through this example that fear of others binds ourselves. Only through realizing this and coming to love others can we truly emancipate ourselves.


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