Explain the effect of the narrative shift in Chapter 9 and Chapter 10 of Alan Paton's novel Cry, The Beloved Country. In Chapter 9, the author shifts from the story of Kumalo to that of the more...
Explain the effect of the narrative shift in Chapter 9 and Chapter 10 of Alan Paton's novel Cry, The Beloved Country.
In Chapter 9, the author shifts from the story of Kumalo to that of the more general plight of the black South Africans.
I believe this shift creates more empathy on the part of the reader and a better appreciation of the living and social conditions in South Africa at the time of the novel. In Chapter 10, the reader learns that Absalom lived (or did live) in the Shanty town for awhile and because we learned about the Shanty town in Chapter 9, we have a better appreciation of the state of living that Absalom is in--as well as Kumalo's unborn grandchild.
Only Alan Paton could really explain his reasons for the rather abrupt break in his narrative represented by Chapter Nine, but the author of Cry, The Beloved Country died in 1988. We can, therefore, only speculate as to his reasoning, and it is entirely possible that the late author had no real reason for the structure he employed. Chapter Nine diverts the novel's narrative into a more methodical examination of the shantytowns and the brutality and hopelessness that permeates these "communities." Crime is rampant, and children die needless deaths for lack of medical care. Like extreme versions of the migratory camps depicted in Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, families come and go, but the bleakness remains constant. One can surmise that Paton intended this chapter to serve as a vehicle for expanding the scope of his narrative, which otherwise focuses on the Christian priest Stephen Kumalo's search for his son, an accused murderer of a white. That focus on Kumalo's story is logical and Paton pursues it beautifully, but the author may have felt it necessary to provide more context for the environment in which his characters act and interact.
Chapter Ten continues the more straightforward narrative of the pre-Chapter Nine sections of Paton's novel. Having broken his narrative style for a broadening of the reader's perspective, he now returns to the story of Kumalo's search for Absalom, his son who is to be tried for the aforementioned murder. The narrative will once again be interrupted, however, in Chapter Twelve, when Paton again diverts attention away from the story of Reverend Kumalo to heighten the reader's overall awareness of the bleakness of the situation in South Africa. Cry, The Beloved Country was published immediately prior to the actual imposition of the system of apartheid that would come to define South Africa for the next 40-plus years. For Paton and other liberal whites in South Africa, there was a sense of hopelessness regarding the hardening of attitudes on both sides of the white-black divide. Those chapters in his novel that diverge from the central narrative represent the author's need to ensure his readers grasp the full scale of the injustices that he observed up close as a citizen of that country.