Review & Short Summary of Cry, The Beloved Country

Plot of the Novel:

The gripping exasperating classic novel, published in 1948, depicting the conflict between Whites and blacks in South Africa. In the back, black minister Stephen Kumalo destined to the city to search for his missing son, only to find his people living in squalor and his son a criminal. Reverend Misimangu is a young South African preacher, who helps find his missing son turned thief and sister turned sex worker in the slums of Johannesburg.

Recommended For:

  • Anyone interested in South African fiction
  • Anyone wants to know the racial tensions between White & Blacks
  • Anyone interested in 20th Century classic literature

Short Summary & Review

The gripping story is about the account of the black church priest, Stephen Kumalo’s journey from Ndotsheni to Johannesburg. He Umfundisi (as he was fondly called) went there in search of his son, Absalom. There dwelt also his brother; John, a carpenter, who had also went to this city in search of his sister, Gertude – who not only traveled there to secure contact with her husband but also carried along her little child.
The priest arrived in the city and stayed with Msimangu, “the best man” according to the former later in the story – who was the one that wrote him a letter, he too is a priest in the Mission House, Sopiatown. The latter took kindly him to stay for the nights with Mrs. libethe after a warm welcome. The search for all: Absalom, John, Gertude – started with much ado, all was got slightly easily except Absalom. From places to places, Umfundisi and his priest-friend went in search of him sometimes with bus or taxi and even foot! He was later found…. Alas! He had killed a white man! Though by fear, with a ‘loaded revolver’. We can’t blame him since fear is a product of South Africa especially for blacks at that time.

The judge verdict that he should be hanged since the Bible even preached that “death is the wage for sin” (Roman 6:23) and likewise all other religions of the world. It is not null or void since the judgement followed the constitutional provisions of every state that “death should be the ultimate reward for a murderer” hence the judgment is impeccably not racial. However, my utmost surprise was that can a person whose only begotten son was killed shot dead and killed in his lifetime still be generous to the family of the murderer? It amazed you too, same here. We should not be too shocked, our beliefs differed. Some low, some high. It will be eye-catching as you read the novel.

Mr Jarvis, though a pure white man, together with his wife (who are the parents of the deceased young man killed by Absalom) till she lost her life touchingly was more than generous to the priest and his entire community as a whole. He gave them ample milks and also drew lots of progressive plans for them. Paton injects here that not all the whites are the same: we have the good and the bad ones. But, Africa had to be released from the bondage of fear as it was what triggered Absalom to commit the awful and criminal offense of murder, he never “meant to kill”.

Another story of a Native Son, Paton rather speaks of the shabby South Africa in the most lucid way. We should cry for fear and our beloved country for good restoration. Paton preaches here that every crime from the blacks from any part of the world, not only in Africa, is as a result of fear and this is true if properly examined by our
learned critics of the society.

About The Author

Alan Stewart Paton , born January 11, 1903, Pietermaritzburg , Natal , South Africa—died April 12, 1988, near Durban , Natal. A South African writer popular for his first novel; “Cry, the Beloved Country” written in 1948, a passionate tale of racial injustice that brought international attention to the catastrophe of apartheid in South Africa. Paton attended the University of Natal (later incorporated into the University of KwaZulu-Natal) and then taught in the school from 1925
to 1935.

In 1935, Paton left his teaching position to direct Diepkloof Reformatory for delinquent urban African boys, near Johannesburg. The success of “Cry, the Beloved Country“, which he wrote during his tenure at the reformatory, led him to resign his post for full-time writing. The book vividly depicts the anguish suffered by an elderly black minister who must come to terms with his faith when his son is convicted of murdering a white man. Paton wrote the screenplay for the 195 film adaptation.


This novel has got two adaptations; one drama adaptation by UK in 1951, directed by Zoltan Korda, starring Canada Lee, Charles Carson and Sidney Poitier, With IMDB rating 7/10 and another in 1995.

About The Reviewer

Born and bred in Offa; a prominent town in Kwara State, Nigeria in the early 20s, Mohammed Oluwatimileyin Taoheed is a prolific writer, tutor, essayist, reporter, researcher, librarian, editor, artist and clown. His literary output had been cultivated upon his researches in ample fields, he loves to write mostly about the new happenings in his country. He developed a strong passions for music and writing at the same time at the tender age of 11. His father, an historian, had been his major motivator as he guided him on many onerous aspects of l

He workes often with his sister, Saheed Haleemah Ojoshegbe (a writer also and bookworm) in their private library, Success Library. His works had many literary pieces published in both national and international magazines, anthologies and journals. He works as a private lesson tutor in many educational centers and had about 234 students to his credits. He loves women. He wins the WRR 2020 Contest and his recent poem, “Songs Of Love” was accepted in Ghana and Willi Wash’s site for publications. He partnered with Bilal Says- A life, motivation, self help, soft skills & business blog, to educate the world. You can reach him via:

Recommended Read: A review and short summary by same reviewer Weep Not, Child

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