Cry, the Beloved Country
Literary Elements by Paton In the last chapter of the novel Cry, The Beloved Country the author Alan Paton uses symbols, repetition, and tone shows disparity and hope in the main character, Kumalo in order to describe how the black men of south Africa must be able to adapt to their situations, or they may not make it out with their sanity. Throughout the passage in chapter 36, Paton often used tone to depict the stages of emotions Kumalo experienced while thinking about his son’s fate. Kumalo questions himself “ Would [Absolam] be awake, would he be able to sleep, this night before the morning?
He cried out, My son” (310).
In this sentence, Kumalo wonders how his son will face his death the next morning and feels the same pain Absolam does. The anguish and concern Kumalo felt shows his way of coping with the terrible fate to meet his son the following morning. Kumalo not only worries about how his son is coping with his inevitable death, but cries out in desperation as if Absolam will be able to hear him and be comforted. In addition, in the final moments of the book, Kumalo looks “at the faint steady lightening in the east” (312). Kumalo is no longer afraid of his son’s future, embraces it and is at peace.
His son’s execution placed Kumalo in a dark place where he was not familiar with, but at when dawn came and the sun rose the thing he feared was finally here and he accepted it so he could move on and his son could rest in peace. The tone in this sentence had a tone of hopefulness, as opposed to the tone of the rest of the passage that had a tone of despair and grief because the referral to the sun displayed optimism and feelings of not wanting to dwell in the past. However, Paton uses the tone shift in this passage to show Kumalo’s acceptance and adaption to reality and the things he could not change.
Paton often used repetitive words relating to the darkness, light, and about the sun rising and setting. These words all described how each village had to accept their situation before they could truly be at peace with themselves and the lives they live. For example, “The great valley of Umzimkulu is still in darkness, but the light will come there. “ (312). In a literal interpretation, this simply describes how the sun slowly rises and shines on all the villages, but in the context of this passage, Paton depicts the darkness and the negativity some people of South Africa are stuck in.
And as the sunlight shines over them, they will become rejuvenated and realize the beauty in living one more day despite the conditions they live in. In addition, Kumalo thought to himself that “The sun would rise soon after five, and it was then it was done” (310). The indication of the sun rising represents the end of the darkness of the night and then end of Kumalo’s dark thoughts throughout the night. Not only does it mean the end of Kumalo’s suffering, it means that the sun rise will end his son’s life by execution.
It is also a metaphor for renewal throughout, the moment he feared most is over and done with and he can now rest easy. Furthermore, Paton’s use of tone in this passage also illustrates how Kumalo persisted through his darkest times and he eventually was able to pull through and hope his son the best, or the capability to acclimate to any situation. Paton illustrates ultimate hope and renewal at the end of the passage with the usage of symbols of the sun and the titihoya bird. For example, Kumalo professes that “ when that dawn will come, of our emancipation, from the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear, why, that is a secret. (312). The dawn for Kumalo shows his son is freed from his life of sin and can now peacefully travel to the next world without worry. Not only is Absolam freed, Kumalo is free himself from the fear of his son further sinning and for his well being, as he is in God’s hands now. In addition, Kumalo says “ Yes, it is the dawn that has come. The titihoya wakes from sleep, and goes about his work of forlorn crying. ” (311). The bird the sun are intertwined, as the bird only wakes with the sun, and Kumalo and Absolam’s fate are forever connected no matter how far away they are from each other.
Despite the grief Kumalo experiences, his usage of light and birds displays his acceptance of the future for himself and the end of his son’s. Kumalo’s adaptation to a terrible event in his life displays his ability to be optimistic and not live in the past. Overall, Kumalo went through a series of emotions and feelings that at the time seemed impossible to cope with. And with Paton’s usage of tone, symbols, and repetition, he showed Kumalo was greatly in tune with nature and his spiritual self. His adaption to reality geared himself to serenity when he let destiny lead the way.