The Beloved Country begins in Johannesburg, which is a city that was built by white settlers from Europe. They came to South Africa for gold and diamonds, but eventually they found that there were many black people living there as well. This caused problems for the white people because they did not want to share their land with anyone else.
The black people were treated very badly by the whites because they did not have any power or money. They were forced to live in poor neighborhoods called “townships” where there were no jobs or schools or hospitals for them. They started protesting against the government and asking for better conditions so they could have a better life like everyone else. These protests eventually led to riots between black people and white people!
Alan Paton’s acclaimed novel Cry, The Beloved Country highlights the racial tensions of its timeframe – the 1940s to 1950s – in South Africa. Paton draws from his own experiences living in Johannesburg during a period of significant socio-political upheaval. His novel shows how injustices suffered by non-white people, such as forced land expropriation and gross economic inequality, were caused by centuries of oppressive policies based on race and skin color. In this way, Paton’s narrative presents a vivid snapshot of South Africa’s past that still resonates today.
By holding a magnifying glass up to society’s ills, Beloved Country forces readers to confront uncomfortable realities in order to foster meaningful dialogue about the legacy of racialized discrimination and its current implications for land ownership and socio-economic justice in South Africa. Due to this, “Cry, the Beloved Country” is considered one of the most influential novels about South Africa.