Download Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country; New Edition (Bloom's by Harold Bloom (ed) PDF

By Harold Bloom (ed)

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Extra info for Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country; New Edition (Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations)

Example text

He asked. —To Alexandra, sir, said Msimangu, talking off his hat. —I thought you might be. 12 The similarities in the two accounts clearly help to enforce the conclusion that it is the second Alexandra Bus Boycott, of November 1944, that Paton is writing about in the novel. There is a further piece of evidence to support the view. The first boycott was a totally spontaneous affair and lasted only nine days. The second boycott was quite a different kettle of fish. The first owed almost ‘nothing to political leadership’,13 the second owed everything to it.

Indeed, Paton himself uses it orthodoxly for his own purely narrative sections (for example, Book I, Chapter V). The ‘tension’ that Paton sets up between the narrative sections (in the past tense) and the choric sections (in the present) helps to give urgency, width of reference and social relevance to Cry, the Beloved Country. Chapter IX begins thus: All roads lead to Johannesburg. If you are white or if you are black they lead to Johannesburg. If the crops fail, there is work in Johannesburg.

They are tied to particular fictional events, characters and consequences. They work functionally. First, Stephen Kumalo leaves the remote Natal village of Ndotsheni and travels hundreds of miles in a train to the thoroughly (for him) alien and bewildering city of Johannesburg. He searches for days amongst the soulless townships for his son, scurrying from Sophiatown to Alexandra, to Claremont, to Pimville, to Orlando, back and forth, unsuccessful, tormented, tired and depressed. It is during this fruitless endless searching that he encounters the Alexandra Bus Boycott, as we have seen.

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