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Many of the white people who believed in apartheid felt that it was actually the divine purpose of the Afrikaner people to maintain the racial superiority of whites over black people in South Africa (). Many more white business owners also took advantage of these racist policies to improve their profits by forcing their black workers to work for very little pay. Both of these motivations—white supremacist racism and the greedy desire for economic advantage—appear in Cry, the Beloved Country to explain why so many white South Africans resist even basic social reform.
Because Paton's novel appeared around the same time that South Africa's racist laws began to grow really strict and far-reaching, Cry, the Beloved Country has always been associated with the policies of apartheid. Like the in the American South, apartheid limited the ways that black people and white people could interact. But apartheid went further than American segregation because under apartheid, all black people in South Africa (who make up a huge majority of the population) had to register their addresses with the cops. They also had to live in specially selected areas out in the countryside or around the edges of major cities. These settlements (a.k.a. townships) were much, much poorer than the white districts of the country.
Cry, the Beloved Country Study Guide | GradeSaver
The masterfully structured, fictional novel, Cry, the Beloved Country is authored by an anti-apartheid activist, Alan Paton, and depicts the physical, spiritual, and emotional expeditions of an Anglican Zulu priest, Revere...
So even though Paton's book appeared right at the beginning of apartheid, Cry, the Beloved Country warned of some of the horrible damage that legalized racism would do to South African society—at least, that is, to people who were willing to listen.
SparkNotes: Cry, the Beloved Country
Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country obviously takes place long before Mandela's historic election and the start of a new, more racially equal South Africa. In 1948, the same year that Paton first published Cry, the Beloved Country, the Afrikaner National Party came up with the term apartheid to describe its new, stricter set of policies intended to enforce white legal domination over the black people of South Africa. "Apartheid" means "apartness" in Afrikaans, the language spoken today by the Afrikaners, descendants of 17th- and 18th-century Dutch settlers in southern Africa.
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