Love Overcoming Fear

When Arthur Jarvis is shot and killed, a key event to the plot, the Bishop himself comes to the funeral and talks of “a life devoted to South Africa, of intelligence and courage, of love that cast out fear” (181). This idea of love versus fear is obviously important to the author, and the theme can be seen continually. Some might argue that this is the main theme; proof of this point would come from observing the characters’ actions. Many characters in the book Cry, the Beloved Country express the belief that the power of love can overcome the power of fear by fighting personal emotional battles, having compassion for others, or sharing and having faith in love.Kumalo’s journey from Ndotsheni to Johannesburg and back demonstrates numerous times how strong love can be and how much it can do. His love for his son and sister remains constant throughout his fear for his own reputation and for the shame he might endure for defending them. Because of his love for his family, Kumalo comes back to Ndotsheni and humbly prays for God to “forgive her her [and him his] trespasses” rather than turning his back on the truth and pretending that nothing had happened (258). The Bishop himself urges Kumalo to move somewhere where “those things would not be known”, but Kumalo’s love of the land, the peoples’ love for him, and the love that had replaced the fear between Jarvis and Kumalo all stepped in to prevent Kumalo from shying from the situation (295). Kumalo also shows the power of love when others are in pain. When Absalom is facing and “is afraid of death”, Kumalo comforts him with a “deep compassion” that was “within him”, demonstrating once again the force of love (241). Since he had previously spoken “bitterly” and “harshly” of his son, this situation also shows Kumalo overcoming his own fear and anger with his love for Absalom. Immediately after hearing the news of Absalom’s capture, Kumalo seems broken and tired. When Kumalo sees the pain that John is going through, though, he “walks now more firmly”, gaining strength from the love that he has for his brother (129). As Kumalo tried to tell John, “love is greater than force”; it is obvious by Kumalo’s actions that he lived by these beliefs (245).Arthur Jarvis’ life was spent trying to show the effectiveness of love over fear; instead of hiding in his house like most of the whites in Johannesburg, Arthur tried to form a bond with the blacks through love and compassion and faith. Arthur understood the plight of the blacks in Johannesburg and understood why they took the actions that they did, and instead of condemning them and being afraid of them, he took the time to think about where the fault really lay. Because of his love for his country, Arthur saw the hypocrisy of the whites, admitted that the whites had a mix of “great ideal and fearful practice”, and tried to be a man that would get along with those who hated him because of the injustices done to them (188). That Arthur became a sort of champion of the blacks is not surprising; he was a white man brave enough to stand up and say that, although it was good economically for the country, considering blacks to be unequal to whites was unfair and “not permissible” (178). Arthur “aspire[d] to the highest” (208) in all aspects; it is clear that he succeeded because he won over the friendships “white people, black people, coloured people, Indians” (181). When Arthur died, his black friends showed the deepest remorse, and this is the most impressive proof possible that Arthur did conquer the fear between blacks and whites with the love that he had for his country; it was that love that pushed him to “devote his energy…to the service of South Africa” and that allowed him to overpower some of the fear existing there (208). Even his funeral showed his great influence, as it was the first time that Jarvis and his wife had sat in a church with people who “were not white” (181), and also because the church was “too small” for all the people wanting to come.James Jarvis shows that love can conquer fear through the compassion and understanding he displays after his son’s death. Jarvis was hurt by his son’s death, but he did not isolate himself or become fearful or angry. He knew Kumalo was afraid of him, but he replaced this fear by showing compassion in small things, like asking if “there is mercy”; this simple question shows that Jarvis does not blame Kumalo and has sympathy for the position that he is in (279). It would have been very easy for Jarvis to become bitter, but it seems that Arthur’s papers somehow opened his eyes to the situation in South Africa. Jarvis was “shocked and hurt” by the implications of some of Arthur’s papers, but his love and respect for his son made him continue reading (207). By doing this, he saw the truth in Arthur’s words, and he could fully face the situation with no fear. He learned that Arthur was satisfied with his life, and that he would “rather die” than not help the blacks (208). Jarvis’ love for Arthur allowed him to see Arthur’s arguments and turned him into a more generous man. When Jarvis heard of the need for milk in Ndotsheni, he immediately sent many “shining cans” to the father of the man who killed his son; it was a great act of compassion (271). Jarvis suddenly became a great man who righted all his wrong-doings, restored the land, became an equal to the blacks, erased the fear between the blacks and him, and no longer placed so much value on money and production. This was all because of his love for Arthur and was done “in memory of [his] beloved son” (296). When his wife died, it was most likely a great comfort to him to know that the people of Ndotsheni were “grieved” as he was because it showed that he had achieved the same kind of respect that Arthur had, and it let him know he didn’t stand alone (292). He accomplished all of this because of love and faith.Stephen Kumalo, Arthur Jarvis, and James Jarvis are three main characters that convey the author’s belief that love can win over fear. This idea, along with the related concept of destruction versus rebuilding, reveals the reason that Paton wrote this book. If the book was skimmed, it might be seen as extremely depressing and bleak, but in truth, it is a book that reveals the potential of and the possibilities existing in South Africa. Through studying different characters and their fight against fear, something else reveals itself. If a white in South Africa is fair and has love for her/his country, she/he is immediately hailed as heroes, and the loss of her/his life is grieved by everyone, even respectable people like the Bishop. It is also much easier for a white to open up her/his heart, considering that she/he has all the power and considerable economic resources. When a black woman/man is good and devoid of evil for her/his entire life, however, she/he will earn only minimal respect and will not be seen as a gift from God or anything else glorious. At the same time that Paton was reflecting on the hope that should exist in South Africa, he was also revealing many problems still existing in the country. It seems that the country will advance, but more politically than socially.

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