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Cry, the Beloved Country

By Alan Paton (6)

The breakdown of tribal society and its tragic consequences are at the center of Alan Paton's modern classic, Cry, the Beloved Country. The Reverend Stephen Kumalo, contacted by the priest Msimangu, travels from his village to Johannesburg, South Africa, in order to help his sister Gertrude, and look for his missing son, Absalom. Gertrude has fallen into sordid activities, but Absalom has done worse: he is accused and convicted of murdering a civil rights activist, Arthur Jarvis. Kumalo cannot save his son, but he manages to marry Absalom to the woman who will bear his child, and provides a home for the mother and her baby. Redemption in part comes when the father of the murdered man begins to help the villagers, and his son and Kumalo form a friendship. As the novel ends, Kumalo has gone to grieve and pray on the day of Absalom's execution. Readers of a high school age will appreciate Paton's adept exploration of racial injustice and cultural conflict.

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