Beginning the first pages of Cry, the Beloved Country with a portrait of an Edenic landscape that has been marred by human abuse, Paton weaves throughout his whole novel the theme of damaged things that are in need of healing. Beginning with his scorched up native country, he goes on to explore unjust social norms, corrupted political systems, exiled communities, divided families, and spiritually broken individuals. The entire scope of Paton’s “Biblical” novel begs the question, what will bring redemption to this damaged world?
This question captures a truth that I see as a culmination of so many of our discussions in this class: the idea that we should view such problems as holistically as possible. This is precisely why I chose for our last unit theme “A Holistic Look at our Damaged World.” The sources of pain in this world are not merely external issues that can be fixed through social programs and government policies. Yes, I think it is imperative that we engage the world’s problems intellectually, that we are informed about politics and economics, and that we take part in authentic discussion and activism. But, I would argue that we must also address the roots of the evil and the pain of this world, and admit that the world’s suffering begins within each broken individual that inhabits this world. I think if we consider the tragic litany of evils and damage that we have encountered in all of our books, we can be confident of this truth. The systems of the world need healing, but humans also need to experience a kind of healing within our own hearts. Amen?? 🙂
For this final blog assignment on Cry, the Beloved Country, I want you to consider the whole scope of this wonderful novel, and answer any of the following questions. Now that we have followed Stephen’s story of this broken land, country, and people to its end, what are the most powerful sources of healing that you see Alan Paton presenting? What holistic solutions (addressing “external” systems and “internal” lives of individuals) does he propose that are still applicable in our persistently damaged world? And on a practical level, how reasonable or realistic do you think these answers/solutions are?
I look forward to hearing what you share! And don’t forget to read and comment on the blogs of your classmates, especially considering that we’re missing out on so much good discussion time!