Presentation on theme: "By Alan Paton Background information and context."— Presentation transcript:
by Alan Paton Background information and context
Alan Paton (1903-1988) Click info on Paton : http://zar.co.za/paton.htm
Background you need to know: Apartheid in South Africa: http://home.snu.edu/~dwilliam/f97projects/apartheid/Document5.html
Background (2): European Colonization of South Africa: http://www.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/uu29me/uu29me03.htm http://www.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/uu29me/uu29me03.htm
Background (3): Johannesburg founded in 1886 Mining town vast, newly discovered gold deposits Center of the most populated region of South Africa.
Key Facts Narrator: 3 rd person omniscient primarily; also many other points of view on temporary basis Point of View: Books I & III told from Kumalo’s point of view; Book II from Jarvis Other chapters told from montage of voices from different areas of S African society Narrator also shows things from other characters’ perspective occasionally Intercalary chapters: chapters which do not move the plot along, but give key information necessary to understand the novel
More Key Facts Tone: lyrical, grieving, occasionally bitter Tense: past Setting: Mid-40s, just after WW2 Ndostsheni & Johannesburg, SA Protagonists: Stephen Kumalo & James Jarvis Major Conflict: Stephen Kumalo struggles against the forces: white oppression, corruption of city life that destroy his family & country
Plot Summary black priest from Ixopo, Stephen Kumalo goes to Johannesburg to search for his son and sister discovers that his sister has become a prostitute his son has murdered the son of a white Ixopo farmer Stephen Kumalo returns to Ixopo with his pregnant daughter-in-law, and his sister's son—sister remains behind Kumalo seeks to reconcile with the murdered man’s father bring Gertrude back to the village.
Story Chart Rising Action: Kumalo travels to Johannesburg to search for his son Climax Absalom is arrested for the murder of Arthur Jarvis Falling Action Absalom is sentenced to death Jarvis works with Kumalo to improve conditions in the village Absalom is hanged
Biblical Reference: Absalom There are many biblical references throughout the novel. Names: Absalom, the son of Stephen Kumalo, shares his name with the son of King David, who rose up against his father in rebellion. Also, in the New Testament Book of Acts, Saint Stephen was a martyr who died rather than give up his beliefs.
More Biblical Allusions Absalom requests that his son's name be Peter Name is one of Jesus's disciples Peter's known for impulsiveness after Christ's arrest, he denied knowing Jesus three times, and later wept in grief over this. After the resurrection, Peter renewed his commitment to Christ and to spreading the Gospel. All of this suggests Absalom's final repentance, and his commitment to the faith of his father.
More Allusions Arthur Jarvis is described as having a large collection of books on Abraham Lincoln, and the writings of Lincoln figure heavily in the novel. Paton describes Arthur's son by using the same characteristics that Arthur had when he was a child. This alludes to the rebirth of Christ.
Stephen Kumalo One of the 2 protagonists in novel Elderly Zulu Anglican priest Spent entire life in quiet country village: Ndotsheni Quiet, humble, strong faith in God Has outbursts of anger; his words occasionally cause pain to his family Dignity & faith despite the suffering he sustains Moral center of novel His journey is a physical one to find his son & sister in the corrupt city
James Jarvis Novel's other protagonist White landowner whose farm overlooks Ndotsheni Jarvis a conservative farmer Man of few words Only son, Arthur, murdered Leads him to Johannesburg Begins to rethink his opinions and his relationship to the villagers that live below his farm. His journey is a spiritual, mental one
Theophilus Msimangu Young minister at the Mission House in Sophiatown Msimangu understands the problems that face South Africa He helps Kumalo understand the people and places Sympathetic to Kumalo, makes Kumalo's quest his top priority.
Absalom Kumalo Stephen Kumalo's son Leaves home for Johannesburg Absalom turns to crime Commits murder Lack moral compass, influenced by bad companions
John Kumalo Stephen Kumalo's brother Formerly humble carpenter and a Christian John Kumalo becomes a successful businessman One of the three most powerful black politicians in Johannesburg He has a beautiful and powerful voice, uses to speak out for the rights of black South Africans, but he fears punishment & is corrupted.
Arthur Jarvis Arthur Jarvis first appears after he has been murdered He is an engineer and fierce advocate for justice for black South Africans Is shot dead in his home by Absalom Kumalo
Mrs. Kumalo Strong-minded, supportive, loving wife Makes household decisions with her husband as an equal She bears hardship gracefully Kumalo is inclined to brood She rouses him to action She supplies the courage needed to read the bad news the mail brings from Johannesburg
Gertrude Kumalo Stephen Kumalo's sister Original reason for his trip to Johannesburg Gertrude, twenty-five years younger than Kumalo Went to Johannesburg to find her husband Turns to alcohol and prostitution Her young son returns to Ndotsheni with Stephen Kumalo, but she remains in Johannesburg
Form & Structure Problem or sociological novel Social issue is racial discrimination in South Africa Propaganda novel? Strongly influenced by Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath Books are alike in structure: Chapters 9, 12, & 23 are intercalary or inserted chapters Give you a picture of society as a whole Do not advance the plot Lead to full understanding of the setting for the story
Structure Novel is circular Begins in Natal-Moves to Johannesburg-Ends in Ndotsheni in Natal Plot & Themes presented in 3 part structure Book 1: search for Stephen Kumalo’s son & sister Theme of tribal disintegration stronger than tribal rebuilding in this book Book 2: trial, intercalary chapters give more social issues background Both major themes appear, but breakdown of traditional order is still stronger Book 3: resolution; Kumalo & Jarvis work to change village of Ndotsheni Stress on theme of rebuilding; promise of hope for future
Style Realistic Uses symbols: Names of characters Titihoya bird—symbol of land Meals sometimes a communion Mountains & uplands seen as good places Valleys, places of decay—except Johannesburg Language More common English patterns when white man is thinking Harsh & to the point; more complicated than his main style
Language Paton invented special style for the book Simple vocabulary Use of biblical patterns Use of Zulu & other Bantu languages Symbols like light & darkness Short clauses connected by but or and Repetition Used to represent speech or thoughts translated from Zulu & give comments from the omniscient narrator Both styles are seen in Chapter 22 where prosecutor’s style contrasts with Absalom’s
Theme: Reconciliation between fathers & sons Search of 2 fathers for their sons Kumalo’s is a physical search When Kumalo & Absalom are reunited they are strangers to each other Trial brings them closer; but verdict allows Kumalo to finally understand his son Letters from prison show repentance & the little boy he remembers
Jarvis & his son Not a physical search Realizes knows nothing about his son Arthur was an advocate for South Africa’s black population He & his father disagree on this Reconciliation with a dead man occurs Jarvis finds the way through Arthur’s writings Gives Jarvis clear insight into who Arthur has become Jarvis feels pride for his son
Inequality & Injustice Massive inequalities towards non-whites Black Africans can only own limited amounts of land poor quality, overworked Land won’t support young adults—they must leave to work in the mines or Johannesburg Absalom & Gertrude—examples Economic lure of city leads to danger Limited opportunities to earn money; separated from family and tradition turn to crime City full of slums and gangs
These conditions lead to anger and violence Rob white homes Whites become afraid and loose sympathy for the blacks More injustice occurs and this makes situation worse Absalom’s lawyer claims Absalom is society’s victim Whites get government troops to crack down and the situation explodes
Christianity and Injustice Kumalo’s main source of strength is God Christianity also aids in resisting oppression Arthur Jarvis calls the mine policies un-Christian Religion is seen as a way to bring social justice without violence Christianity is also part of the injustice Black priests paid less than white ones Religion says to suffer; not fight back Arthur Jarvis also discusses that religious figures claim God wants whites to rule blacks
Depiction of Nature Contrasts the beauty of Natal against the ugliness of South Africa Hills & Rivers of the whites more fruitful & lovely Land of the black farmers barren, dry, hostile Contrast between beauty of the land vs. ugliness of society shows necessity of change Also, offers hope Land can be restored Titihoya bird represents the land—has deserted the barren land around Ndotsheni, but still around the white farms higher up
Repentance Many characters lose temper in novel Msimangu when learns Absalom abandoned his girlfriend Young man at reformatory is mad at Absalom Kumalo loses temper at wife, son’s girlfriend, his brother, sister Sometimes scenes are ugly Acts are met by repentance Characters are forgiven Pattern demonstrates power of caring to overcome bitterness
Repeated Phrases Phrases repeated: show subtle changes in meaning As was the custom/or it was not the custom Kumalo expects to be treated as an inferior When the custom is broken—phrase shows how important these small acts are Not a thing done lightly shows this Reconciliation scenes Repetition of these phrases shows how often these taboos are changing
Symbols Church Ndotsheni church simple, rough structure Represents faith that is humble—leaky roof, little shelter Church closely linked to Kumalo Jarvis’s offer to build a new church is symbol of his commitment to the village & friendship with Kumalo
Kaffir Boy-Mark Mathabane Excerpt from a novel Author born in South Africa, 1960 Mother dragged him to school when he was 7—stayed in school to spite his father who beat the mother for taking him Lived in Alexandra, a township outside Johannesburg Approximately 150,000 lived in an area of 1 square mile Lived in a shack 15’ by 15’ and slept on cardboard sheets under the kitchen table
Story excerpt Excerpt we read was when his Grandmother took him to her employer’s home They gave him books and occasionally work Also gave him a used tennis racket He will teach himself to play and enters a tournament in 1977 Loses tournament but gains scholarship to school in US At 18 leaves South Africa Tennis was his way to further his education and get out of South Africa Only through education would blacks gain rights
Mathabane conclusion From experience with the white family who helped him learned are good and bad whites; just as good and bad blacks Experience in US taught him racism everywhere just less obvious here Has worked to gain opportunities for urban youth both here and in South Africa
“A Life for a Life” Short story by Alan Paton Brutal act of violence of a violent person who is acting with the authority of society The white farmer is killed so someone must pay for this—someone of color Title important because the death/murder of Enoch Maarman by Robertsse Deliberate act of murder against an innocent man that is allowed by society Maarman is a Hottentot an African tribe located around Capetown, South Africa
Hottentots Khoekhoe Proper term for this tribe Hottentots is considered offensive as name was given by European settlers who took over the area around Capetown This group was one of the 3 original inhabitants of South Africa with the Bantu and San tribes
“Drink in the Passage” Also by Alan Pato Liberal whites long to have a relationship with the African blacks Edward Simelane personifies all that is best in the natives according to them Their fear however keeps them from inviting him into their homes and so he is left standing in the hallway This puts him at even greater risk Whites in story represent ineffectual & ambivalent efforts of the liberal whites in South Africa Protest treatment of natives yet lack power
“Drink...” continued Protests attract government attention and more repressive acts towards natives Paton worries that South Africa will never change Much like the white family in Kaffir Boy excerpt— want to help but in a way that won’t take away from material wealth of the whites
Why is this novel so important? Doris Lessing, the novelist and 2007 Nobel laureate in literature said: “What you have to remember is that the whole of southern Africa was seen as a very happy, fun place full of satisfied blacks…. Cry, the Beloved Country destroyed that vision.” “[Cry, the Beloved Country is] the greatest novel to emerge out of the tragedy of South Africa, and ‘one of the best novels of our time.’” ~The New Republic
Helpful Hint: As you read the book, remember to refer to the back, which has a GLOSSARY of African terms you may not be familiar with.