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Through Paton’s use of faith and forgiveness in Cry, the Beloved Country he demonstrates the concept of redemptive value through Kumalo’s suffering and Absalom’s repentance. Kumalo’s suffering makes the reader feel sympathetic because of the sudden, yet constant, uprising conflicts in the storyline. Absalom’s repentance makes the reader feel reflective because they start to consider the moral lessons being taught in the story. Faith and forgiveness are combined to create the redemptive value of suffering, or repentance.
The concept of forgiveness in Cry the Beloved Country is very crucial to the plot because Kumalo has many family members that he needs to forgive before he can leave Ndotsheni to go and help them in Johannesburg. When Kumalo’s wife questions him about his well-being he replies angrily, “Hurting myself? Hurting myself? I do not hurt myself, it is they who are hurting me. My own son, my own sister, my own brother. They go away and do not write anymore.
Perhaps it does not seem to them that we suffer.
Perhaps they do not care for it. ”(39) Here Kumalo comes to the realization of the importance of this trip to Johannesburg, he must go there to find them and forgive them for the suffering they have caused. When he first goes to find his sister, Gertrude, he is angry at her for shaming his family, “You have shamed us, he says in a low voice, not wishing to make it known to the world. A liquor seller, a prostitute, with a child and you do not know where it is? Your brother a priest? How could you do this to us?
” (61) Kumalo becomes angry interrogating her about her sins hoping, possibly knowing, that between the fear, discomfort, and guilt she feels that she will repent and pray to become a better person.
In Book two the perspective shifts to James Jarvis, Father of late Arthur Jarvis, James Jarvis doesn’t have any need to necessarily forgive but he does reconcile a bit while finding things around Arthur’s home and talking to Arthur’s father in-law. While speaking to Harrison, Arthur’s father in-law, James mentions “‘Although his life was different’, he said, ‘you understood it.
’ ‘Yes, James’ ‘I’m sorry I didn’t understand it’ then he said in a whisper, ‘I didn’t know it would ever be so important to understand it. ’”(175) He feels a bit guilty for not attempting to understand his son’s political importance in life and for not knowing all that he had accomplished during his time alive. In order for someone to forgive another you must also make amends with God, which is why faith is important in the novel. Kumalo talked to Father Vincent about amendment of life, “‘We spoke of amendment of life’, said the white priest. ‘Of the amendment of your son’s life.
And because you are a priest, this must matter to you more than all else, more even than your suffering and your wife’s suffering. ” (141) When Father Vincent says that he being a priest matters more than his suffering it demonstrates the important of faith. Father Vincent seems to be suggesting that having a member of Kumalo’s congregation commit murder is more devastating than having his son commit murder. As previously mentioned faith is more important and in this way Kumalo must grieve over the loss of his son and the loss of a member of his congregation.
Courage, faith, and hope are all very closely related as courage and hope are commonly religious principle. Knowing the important of faith and forgiveness in Cry, the Beloved Country , after all has been said and done, Absalom is sentenced to death, “Still kneeling, the father took his son’s hands, and they were not lifeless any more, but clung to his, seeking some comfort, some assurance. And the old man held them more strongly, and said again, ‘be of good courage, my son. ’”(241) Kumalo gives Absalom this simple statement and soon after leaves him to go home and return to Ndotsheni.
The first part of the quote, “and they were not lifeless anymore” is very important because he has transformed from this lifeless criminal into a guilty caring son through faith. Absalom had in fact repented for his crime and can die a forgiven man. The redemptive value of suffering is “the belief that human suffering, when accepted and offered up in union with the Passion of Jesus, can remit the just punishment for one’s sins or for the sins of another. ”(ww. thedefender. org) repentance is equal to this which is mentioned several times through the trial of Absalom Kumalo.
The trial is a frustration to the reader because of the honesty of Absalom, “‘There is no lie in it, for I said to myself, I shall not lie any more, all the rest of my day, nor do anything that is evil. ’ ‘In fact you repented? ’ ‘Yes, I repented. ’”(199) Absalom told the truth and committed a crime out of fear, which brings into question how did he deserve the punishment he was given? He was sentenced to be hung until death, even though this wasn’t ideal, he died with faith, and repentance, and a new family.
His moment of true repentance appears to be when he chooses to name his child Peter, this is biblical symbolism for the story of King David, his son was named Absalom and he rebelled against his father. Absalom, soon repented by naming his child Peter, the disciple that denied knowing Jesus. Kumalo knows that Absalom can repent when father Vincent says, “‘A man may repent him of any evil. ’”(141)This is assuring to Kumalo as now he knows that if his son tries he will be forgiven by God which gives Kumalo peace within.
Alan Paton successfully demonstrated the concept of repentance through faith and forgiveness and caused the reader to feel sympathetic and reflective. Paton creates the effect on the reader through Kumalo’s suffering and Absalom’s repentance. The element of repentance is very important to faith and to the story line. Absalom’s repentance is what helps his father and himself deal with the grave sentence of death. Kumalo returns before Absalom’s hanging and continues to live life and move on with the new members of the family.
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