Bibilical Illusions With The Novel Cry Essay
Bibilical Illusions With The Novel Cry
Biblical reference within the story Cry the Beloved Country Many times in literary pieces, allusions are put in novels, used to foreshadow the ending of a book. The most common types of allusions are those from the bible. This is probably because many are familiar with the bible and its stories. The goal of foreshadowing is to provide a way for the reader to think more about the big picture, rather than what is happening page by page. In the novel, Cry the Beloved County, allusions to the Bible are very apparent and hold high significance in the story. The character Absalom shows tremendous similarities to the Biblical Absalom and almost seem to be made out of the same mold. Steven Kumalo from the novel and the simple man Job from the bible are tested in the same way and come out in the end in the same way.
Biblical Absalom is essentially wronged by his half-brother Amnon, when his half brother forced his sister Tamar to sleep with him. Similarly Absalom Kumalo is wronged by his father’s, brother’s, son, Matthew, when he will not admit to the court that he was an accessory to murder. Basically, both are wronged by a close family member, Biblical Absalom by his brother, and Absalom Kumalo by his cousin. In both stories, though not shown in depth, the men show a close trusting relationship with the one whom have wronged them.
Before Amnon slept with his sister Tamar, Biblical Absalom would have no reason not to trust his brother, just as Absalom Kumalo would not doubt his cousin whom aided him in the murder. Later on, both men find out that, Amnon and Matthew are in it for themselves, not unlike both Absaloms. Absalom Kumalo shot Arthur Jarvis with the intentions of becoming richer. Even though Biblical Absalom killed his brother for sleeping with his sister, with Amnon dead, Absalom would inherit his fathers throne.
(Bible p372-380) (Ward pp.188-189) In retrospect, both men were ultimately driven to commit the murder. Absalom Kumalo probably felt that if a white man can underhand him, and deny him money, then he deserves some of his fortune. So because whites men, kept blacks unskilled and did not allow them the same rights, many rebelled against the whites. In the same frame of mind, biblical Absalom’s hatred for his brother was built up until he decided to go through with his murder. Even though Absalom Kumalo shot the white man on accident, he was doing it for his own gain. He went into the house with the intention of stealing and instead shot a white man out of fear. Though it may seem that he regretted what he had done, which he in some ways did, his crime could not be fully repented. More than anything he probably wishes for Arthur Jarvis to be alive. He doesn’t feels bad about killing him, he simply does not want to deal with the consequences. Biblical Absalom plans out the murder of his brother when he has him over for dinner. Neither men regret killing a man that was as family to them. (Bible p372-380) (Davis p184) Biblical Absalom murdered his brother Amnon for raping his sister Tamar two years earlier.
Absalom Kumalo, on the same note, accidentally murdered a white man, while attempting to rob him. Absalom Kumalo, like biblical Absalom essentially murdered his own brother. Arthur Jarvis, the man Absalom Kumalo shot, was like a brother to the black men. He devoted his life to make a difference in blacks rights in South Africa. For both men, the act of murder on their part, ultimately led to their own demise. Biblical Absalom killed his brother Amnon and when king David found out that Absalom had indeed killed his brother Amnon. After the murder, both men flee the scene. Absalom Kumalo, runs because the price for killing a white man is high. Biblical Absalom flees because he also knows, that if he stays, hash consequences will be enforced. (Bible p372-380)
Eventually, both man are captured and die in an unusual manner against both their fathers’ wishes. Absalom Kumalo is hung for his crime, so as to set an example. Though, the hanging of Absalom is not so strange in itself, its almost foretold in the biblical story of Absalom. After biblical Absalom flees his home on a horse, his head gets caught in a tree while passing under. This act is almost too familiar. As biblical Absalom dies with his body off the ground, struggling to get down, Absalom Kumalo dies with his head in a noose, and body dangling above the ground. (Bible p372-380) (Davis p184) In the bible, Job is developed as a man whom would never speak ill of god. Job is tested by Satan, who believes that Job will curse God if his prosperity is taken away.
Satan kills Job’s children and all of his livestock, but Job does not lose his faith. Satan then takes away Job health by planting boils all over his body. Job eventually become very disappointed with his life and curses the day he was born. This is a classic example of how no man is perfect and when Steven was introduced into Cry, the Beloved Country, he seemed to strive for perfection just as Job had in the bible. Job in theory seemed perfect but, Satan proved Job not to be, just as Steven’s family proved him not to be. (Davis pp.265-272) (Bible p572-600) When brought into the story, both Steven and Job seem to be perfect and upright men. Steven, as a simple black parson and Job, as a upright man whom has shown no flaws. Though Steven’s flaws are shown early on the novel, Cry, the Beloved County, he is still seen as a good man.
Both men are examples of how bad things sometimes happen to good people. They both try to be the best men they can be, by fixing others mistakes and trying to be good people. Job offered burnt offerings to god everyday for his children who may have cursed god in their hearts and Steven prayed everyday to repent the sins of others and his own. The main thing that made these men eligible to lose so much, was because they had gained so much earlier in life. Though Steven want a rich man, he was far better off than any man in his village, and Job was a very prosperous man and looked well upon by god. (Davis pp.265-272) (Bible p572-600) Since Job was thought so highly of by God, he was tested by Satan in order to see if he would lose his faith. Steven Kumalo is tested in the same way as Job. Steven receives a letter from a priest informing him with the news that his sister, Gertrude, is sick.
He leaves his normal life in the valley and travels to the city, with the intentions of bringing her home. When he arrives there, he is confronted with the horrifying news that she is selling herself to men. Steven goes in search of his son Absalom, and eventually finds him. Absalom had shot a white man and is sentence to be hung. Everything that went on in Jhonnaneburg hurt Steven and just like Job, he is tortured to the point where he will break if anything else were to happen. (Bible p572-600) (Ward p.222) In the end, though both men had lost practically everything they cared about, Steven his son and sister, and Job all his children and his prosperity, but then things got significantly better. Steven loses a son but gains a daughter carrying baby, and his sister Gertrude’s son. Job loses all his children but gains ten new children and all his livestock back.
It’s an interesting coincidence how both men lose their child or children, but as they regain faith, new children are restored to them. (Davis pp.265-272) (Bible p572-600) Paton used the name Absalom as an allusion in the story. His goal was probably to allow people to see into the future of Absalom’s mortality. When I first read the story of Absalom, I didn’t any definite similarities but as the stories start intertwining, I understood why he used the name Absalom for Steven’s son. Absalom in general was a greedy boy, who really thought he deserved more and makes the mistake of killing a man which ultimately leads to his own death. Job and Steven, on the other hand, are generally men who strived to be good men. They were tested with their faith and both men failed, but they do gain their faith back, and their happiness along with it.