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Barron's Booknotes-Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton

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1. In what ways does Cry, the Beloved Country go beyond its South African setting to become a novel about problems fundamental to all human beings?

2. Could Cry, the Beloved Country be appreciated by someone who does not believe in God, in spite of the fact that most of its characters are Christians?

3. Compare the views on race relations in Cry, the Beloved Country with those offered by American black writers like Richard Wright (Native Son, 1940, Black Boy, 1945) and James Baldwin (The Fire Next Time, 1963).

4. What role do chance and coincidence play in Cry, the Beloved Country?

5. In what ways does the murder of Arthur Jarvis bring into focus all the social concerns of the novel?

1. What are the various literary definitions of tragedy and how do they apply to Cry, the Beloved Country?

2. In what ways do beliefs, language, and phrasing provide clues to the characters' ethnic groups? Give several examples for each ethnic group represented.

3. Locate a copy of Maxwell Anderson's script for the 1949 musical play Lost in the Stars, based on Cry, the Beloved Country. Compare the play with the novel. What does the musical version add to or detract from the novel?

1. What is the significance of Arthur Jarvis' interest in Abraham Lincoln, particularly Lincoln's Gettysburg Address?

2. Trace the themes of confession, repentance, and forgiveness through the novel.

3. In what ways does the Biblical story of King David and Absalom parallel or differ from that of Kumalo and his son? Include the father-son relationship, what becomes of each Absalom, and how each father reacts.

4. Apply the parable of the prodigal son from the Gospel according to Luke to various members of the Kumalo family-Absalom, John, Matthew.

5. Is Arthur Jarvis a Christ figure?

6. Discuss the themes of light and darkness, sight and blindness, and the coming of dawn in the novel.

1. In what ways do Msimangu, Arthur Jarvis, and the young white man from the reformatory reflect the life and opinions of Alan Paton?

2. What was the judge's reasoning in reaching his verdict on Absalom Kumalo, Matthew Kumalo, and Johannes Pafuri? Would you have reached the same conclusion? Explain and defend your answer.

3. In what ways are Stephen Kumalo, John Kumalo, and James Jarvis alike? In what ways are they different? How does Paton use their similarities and differences?

1. What is the role of women in the novel? Are they presented as men's inferiors, superiors, or equals?

2. Cite at least three examples of social protest in the novel. In each case, include both cause and outcome, and whether or not you consider the protest justified. --3. In what ways has the situation in South Africa changed since Paton wrote Cry, the Beloved Country? Are nonwhites better or worse off now? Has the novel had any effect on South Africa's government?

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Barron's Booknotes-Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton

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