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By Harold Bloom (ed)

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Additional resources for Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country; New Edition (Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations)

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In a section that is primarily choric and static, he is nevertheless able to suggest a narrative by exploiting the temporal ambiguity of the tense. From the point of view of fictional and historical time, however, what is important to notice is that Shanty Town is firmly fixed in history in April 1944, whereas, fictionally, it happens on the night of 7–8 October 1946. Paton has again distorted historical time in the interests of fiction by an amount of two years. In fact, the Bus Boycott and Shanty Town were seven months apart.

Because when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power” (p. 37). 9 The actual problem and Paton’s solution for it are two completely separate, independent spheres which have no real practical relation to each other. And since there is no possibility of the one really acting upon the other, since crime cannot be solved through love, and also because Paton can see no other solution (his ideology prevents this), throughout Cry, the Beloved Country there is a steady displacement of or shift away from the major problem of the book, the sociological one, and an increasing focus on a single consequence of it: the personal sufferings of Stephen Kumalo and, to a lesser extent, James Jarvis.

The immediate result of this ideological clash being dissolved and disposed of through moral condemnation is that the final political vision which emerges from Cry, the Beloved Country is naïve in the extreme. ”13 These practical “solutions” scarcely solve or even begin to suggest a way of solving the problematic historical situation with which the novel deals. A still further result of this failure to develop the implications of this clash of ideologies is an artistic failure; the novel becomes badly weighted, lop-sided; it becomes a tear-jerker—which is only another way of saying that it is lacking in reality.

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