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Cry the Beloved Country

by  Alan Paton  |  Grades: 9 -12  |  Ages: 14+  

Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton Teacher Guide, Lesson Plans, Novel UnitAbout Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

An Oprah Book Club selection, Cry, the Beloved Country, was an immediate worldwide bestseller in 1948. Paton's deeply moving story of Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son Absalom, set against the backdrop of a land and people riven by racial inequality and injustice, remains the most famous and important novel in South Africa's history.  

Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.

The eminent literary critic Lewis Gannett wrote, "We have had many novels from statesmen and reformers, almost all bad; many novels from poets, almost all thin. In Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country the statesman, the poet and the novelist meet in a unique harmony." 

Alan Paton's impassioned novel about a black man's country under white man's law is a work of searing beauty. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man.

Biographical Notes About Alan Paton

Alan Paton (1903 - 1988) a native son of South Africa, was born in Pietermaritzburg, in the province of Natal. Paton's initial career was spent teaching in schools for the sons of rich, white South Africans.

But at thirty, he suffered a severe attack of enteric fever, and in the time he had to reflect upon his life, he decided that he did not want to spend his life teaching the sons of the rich. He got a job as principal of Diepkloof Reformatory, a huge prison school for delinquent black boys, on the edge of Johannesburg.

He worked at Diepkloof for ten years, and at the end of it Paton felt so strongly that he needed a change, that he sold his life insurance policies to finance a prison-study trip that took him to Scandinavia, England, and the United States. It was during this time that he unexpectedly wrote his first published novel, Cry, the Beloved Country. It stands as the single most important novel in South African literature.  

Available Teacher Guides, Lesson Plans, Novel Units, and Activities for Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton: