Inevitability of Change Revealed in Cry, the Beloved Country

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Inevitability of Change Revealed in Cry, the Beloved Country  

Things grow old and die.  Change is inevitable:  a candle will eventually burn out, trees will fall to the ground, and mountains will crumble to the sea.  This inescapable process is clearly illustrated by the character Stephen Kumalo in the book Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton.  The Kumalo seen in the beginning of the book is a completely different person from what he is in the end.  He is initially very kind and caring, but by the end of the book, he is a far less naïve person, one who is able to lie even to his own brother.  The events that transpire and the changes they cause in the protagonist, Stephen Kumalo,
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(p. 8)

This may appear at first to be literal, that people who go to Johannesburg never return.  But, after a closer examination of the quote and the rest of the story, it seems to be more metaphorical than that.  What it seems intended to mean is that although you may indeed physically return, the ordeal while staying there is so traumatic that it can change a person forever.  In this sense, it foreshadows that Kumalo, who does indeed go there, will not return as he left.

     While Kumalo is in Johannesburg, some changes become evident in him.  He begins to see some things in himself he didn’t before:

I am a selfish and sinful man, but God put his hands on me, that is all. (p. 25)

Here he admits that he is hardly a perfect man, and that it was not through his own spirituality or goodness that he became a pastor, but that it was simply deemed to be so by God.  This would be hard for many people to admit, even to themselves.  Also, he goes to Johannesburg knowing nothing outside of Ndotsheni: he has had no exposure to modern city life, or any of the vices of the life there.  He quickly begins to shed his naïveté and become much more wise:

The world is full of trouble. (p. 84)

In the entire book, there isn’t a truer

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