In the novel Cry, the beloved country, division, and separation in South Africa plays an influential role in the plot of the novel.
The first incident of racial division can be found in chapter three when Kumalo takes a train from Ndotsheni to Johannesburg. Since most of the white people have cars of their own, the trains are mainly used by black people. Still, the train is divided into sections for Europeans and natives, the native section “was full of black travellers”(Paton 43). Likewise is true in chapter Likewise is shown to be true in chapter 7 for the facilities in the city.
In Johannesburg, Europeans have high buildings, well-maintained houses, and sanitized hospitals. However in native communities, “people can be found lying on the floors. natives lie so close you cannot step over them.”(Paton 67) Finally, the novel shows the rise of shanty towns, which are the result of nonwhites being pushed to the edges of their cities, where housing is unattainable.
We can see more systematic racism through the areas allocated for the natives and how they are separated from the white population. Alexandra, Sophiatown, or Orlando are all examples of places where native black people are allowed to live, despite the six-year waiting list. The shanty towns are full of crime and sickness, hopeless people commit violations to trying to escape from poverty. Men are tossed in jail, are killed, increasing the fear, and poverty — and then the cycle continues.
This process is shown throughout the character of Absalom, and how he messes with the law and kills because of fear. All of the aforementioned examples demonstrate how separation and division affect the people of South Africa.In chapter three, Stephen Kumalo is taking the train to Johannesburg. We hear about “the Europeans of the district that all have their cars, and hardly travel by train anymore”(Paton 43). This quotation illustrates the wealth separation, which uncovers the apparent abundance of riches on the European side of life and the poverty on the other side. This also demonstrates how traveling by train is the only way many natives are able to travel long distances.
“The section for non-Europeans, already full of people of his race” (Paton 43), unlike the European section which was abandoned by many for a car. Clear systematic racism can be found here, the train is split by skin color. This division between races is reinforced by the law. While Stephen Kumalo faces systematic division on the train, new and fancy facilities in Johnsburg are meant to benefit the European of South Africa.