Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country and Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart are both groundbreaking novels intertwining multifarious aspects of the human condition and human relationships to highlight the conflict between the white colonizers and native blacks in Africa at different points in African history. Achebe's narrative signals the first indicator of tribal decline in Africa, exploited by the white colonizers to exert power in their expanding empire. The death toll of tribal life in Africa in Things Fall Apart symbolizes the human predisposition towards conflict as the ethnic tensions are replaced with the tensions between the whites and blacks.
[...] He had court messages that brought men to him for trial”. (Achebe 174). Similarly, the white influence in Cry, the Beloved Country changes Kumalo's life where he is faced with further evolution of the white colonial judiciary system. “They come out of the Court, the white on one side, the black on the other, according to the custom. But the young white man breaks the custom, and he and Msimangu help the old and broken man, one on each side of him . [...]
[...] In Cry, the Beloved Country, Kumalo's journey to Johannesburg and back portrays how Paton felt about unity and the importance of family. Indeed a central theme of Cry is the symbolism of family life being broken in South Africa. This is primarily illustrated through the Kumalo family with references to other broken families as a symptom of apartheid Africa. The troubles in Johannesburg are utilized as a microcosm for the broken villages in Isopod. Kumalo's is used by Paton as a symbol of hope in healing broken South Africa, which contrasts with the destruction that unfolds in Things Fall Apart. [...]
[...] At the beginning of Things Fall Apart, Achebe asserts that Okonkwo's “whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and weakness” (Achebe 13). Okonkwo's fear of being weak feeds his inner hate, which is instilled into his son. As a result, the turn in his relationship with Nwoye creates the common theme of disunity in both novels. When Nwoye converts to Christianity, which was instilled by fear, the irony of his conversion is highlighted by the fact that his fear of his father and oppression is replaced with another fear of obedience to the colonist imposed religion. [...]
[...] In Things Fall Apart, Achebe depicts the gradual erosion of tribal life and exploitation of internal divides as a facilitator in the implementation of white colonial policies. Indeed Okonkwo, the central protagonist in the novel symbolizes the pride and strength of the ancient Umofia, an Ibo tribe in Africa. The Umuofia belief in a personal god or creates a sad prophecy, when it is proclaimed that “when a man says yes, his chi says yes also” (Achebe 27). However, Okonkwo's journey further epitomizes the rise and fall of this culture, as he does not challenge his which is further emphasized by the rise of white colonial power, resulting in his exile from his own people. [...]
[...] On the surface, the despair in Things Fall Apart contrasted with Kumalo's home at the end of Cry, the beloved country would point towards Achebe's novel appearing more sympathetic in tone. However, it is submitted that it would be far too dogmatic in ignoring the wider issues explored by both novels. Whilst both novels clearly depict the plight of native Africans under white colonial rule in a manner which evokes reader empathy and sympathy, the purpose of these novels is not to merely create sympathy. [...]
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