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Title: The relationship between spatial division and race in Alan Paton's Cry, the beloved country
Authors: Prabaharan Karunya
Keywords: DRNTU::Humanities
Issue Date: 2014
Abstract: Alan Paton's Cry the Beloved Country, set in South Africa shortly before the legalisation of apartheid, explores the connection between South Africa’s spatial division (where Johannesburg becomes the physical symbol of these spatial divisions) and the relationship between Blacks and Whites. Lindsay Bremner states that under apartheid, “borders were not things one crossed, but indicators of places one stayed within.” (209). As a result, Paton’s significant emphasis on movement between borders stands out amongst the lines of separation depicted in the novel. This essay will argue that Paton presents a progression for both white and especially black characters, from their initial rural-urban crossing until their return to the native lands, in terms of them beginning to fathom the true depth of racial divisions in South Africa. In other words, the intensification of racial inequality becomes apparent to an individual crossing into Johannesburg. According to the novel, the Blacks naturally respond to their increased understanding of the racial divisions in Johannesburg with aggressive and violent retaliation. However, while the novel acknowledges their sentiments, it suggests that instead of using Johannesburg as a platform for spreading hatred, the two races should recognize the city’s potential to facilitate reconciliation. Ironically, the novel admits that although it is possible for reconciliation to begin in Johannesburg, it cannot come to fruition there due to the presence of corruption and injustice. Consequently, Paton encourages his characters to return to the native land since he sees this as the place where complete reconciliation can occur. This essay will examine three types of border crossings in the novel: the movement from the native lands into Johannesburg; boundary crossings that occur within Johannesburg itself, and finally the return from Johannesburg to Ndotsheni.
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:HSS Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI)

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