Cry, the Beloved Country

by Alan Paton

Start Free Trial

Whats the difference between just and justice in Cry, the Beloved Country and why was Jarvis "sick at heart" as he read some of his sons papers?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It is the Judge's job to uphold the law, and when he does, justice has been served.  It is not up to him to determine whether the law itself is just or fair; the law is made by the society, and if some feel it is unjust, then the law and society must be changed, but it is not up to the Judge to do it.  As the administrator of justice, the Judge

"...cannot, must not, dare not allow the existing defects of society to influence him to do anything but administer the law".

Thus, even though Absalom is the victim of a corrupt society, he has broken the law.  Whether or not the law or the circumstances related to it are just is immaterial; the Judge has no choice but to find Absalom guilty (Chapter 28).

Jarvis is sick at heart as he reads his son's papers for a number of reasons.  First of all, his son had been writing when he heard the burglars downstairs, and as Jarvis reads the last unfinished paragraph, he can clearly picture the young man writing, then stopping, getting up, and going downstairs to his death.  In reading his final works, Jarvis relives his son's last moments (Chapter 21).

The content of his son's papers also makes Jarvis very sad.  At one point, the young man writes that, despite all that his parents had done for him in his life, they had not taught him about the reality of South Africa.  When he reads this repudiation, Jarvis is momentarily "shocked and hurt".  Beyond this, though, it is the sad irony of his son's death that is hurtful, especially as it is revealed in his writings.  Young Arthur Jarvis had thought long and hard about what was going on in his "beloved country", and had devoted himself to working unequivocably for a society in which all men, black and white, are treated fairly.  Sadly, it was the product of his country's corruption, Absalom Kumalo, who caused his death, the death of a man who was dedicated to making things better for him and others in his situation (Chapter 24).


See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team