Cry The Beloved Country Literary Analysis

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In Cry, the Beloved Country, the city of Johannesburg enables Gertrude’s desires to control her life, yet the desires that govern her are shamefully careless. Before Gertrude left Ndosheni, she had been surrounded by villagers who essentially knew many or all of their community’s people, including her. With the fear that several people would know of or observe her actions, Gertrude was encouraged to act upon the ethical desires widely accepted by her people. On the other hand, Johannesburg has little to no sense of community—being a heavily populated city and the majority of its inhabitants strangers to one another—which allows Gertrude to pursue the amoral desires within her, and for them to occur unnoticed by relatives. When Stephen Kumalo, her brother, finally receives word of Gertrude’s illness, he leaves for Johannesburg and finds her in a shabby, dirty house, crammed between similar buildings. Anxiously standing in front of his sister’s door, awaiting what would be their first encounter after several months, Kumalo overhears a “laughter in the house, the kind of laughter of which one is afraid… perhaps because it is in truth bad laughter,” (Paton 59 emphasis added). The bad laughter he hears is a product of Gertrude’s careless desires; her undisciplined lust for men. The context in which this laughter comes from is what makes it bad, especially in Kumalo’s mind, for he is not just her family, but a priest as well. Without a close-knit community to direct
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