Metaphors and Symbols in Cry, the Beloved Country

Journey and Search in Cry, the Beloved Country

Cry, the Beloved Country is organized around two searches. The first is a physical search by Stephen Kumalo for his son, Absalom. The second is an intellectual and emotional search on the part of James Jarvis for the spirit of his son, Arthur, as gleaned from the murdered man’s writings. Both these searches can be understood as part of an inner journey that leads to a new spiritual awareness in both Stephen Kumalo and James Jarvis. In that sense the outer events of the searches are metaphors for the growth of each man’s mind and heart, both of which are essential if the country is to be regenerated and social justice achieved. Jarvis learns that he must break out of his old, complacent ways of thinking and help his black neighbors. Kumalo learns to be steadfast in the face of tragedy, and to continue to pray and seek divine sustenance. He also learns that he must take a more active role in helping his village.