In the novel Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, the idea of inequality and separation among races plays a major role in the story. Through this theme, we are shown that with power, comes responsibility, and that by avoiding our difficulties, we are only creating bigger problems, and greater consequences. This theme is demonstrated through the Europeans of Johannesburg, who treat the native South Africans poorly, causing an increase in the rate of crime against white South Africans. We also see it through the healthcare system in Johannesburg, where the European hospital is one of the finest in Africa while the native hospital is far overpopulated and in poor condition. Finally, it is portrayed by the separation in rural communities, such as Ndotsheni, where white people live on higher ground, with more resources than the black people down below.
All of these circumstances demonstrate the separation between the black and white people of South Africa and show how the Europeans are of higher status than the natives, demonstrating division and inequality among the races. The theme of inequality is most prominently shown through the white people (Europeans) of Johannesburg and their treatment towards black people. We first see this theme demonstrated in chapter eight, when the bus fares are raised and the natives are forced to boycott the buses.
To get to work, they must “start walking at four in the morning, and they do not get back till eight at night” (Paton, 74) before they must start again. This shows how poorly the natives are treated and how even the government is demonstrating acts of inequality towards black people. The housing situation in Johannesburg is also a representation of how unfairly the natives are treated. In chapter nine, we learn that the houses are extremely overpopulated and that “you can wait five years for a house and be no nearer to getting it than at the beginning” (Paton, 85).
This is a clear example of how black people have been pushed aside by the Europeans and do not have nearly the same amount of resources and privileges as whites, causing the need for stealing and other native crime. Lastly, the murder of Arthur Jarvis is a consequence of the white South Africans avoiding their problems with the natives. Rather than trying to fix all the injustices between them, they simply try to avoid them altogether, leaving the natives with close to nothing, and the need to steal to survive.
When Absalom Kumalo killed Arthur Jarvis, his intent was to steal, and ” he did not mean to kill” (Paton, 192). If he hadn’t needed to steal, Arthur Jarvis would not have died. By avoiding their problems with the natives, the white people of Johannesburg suffered a much greater consequence with the death of Arthur Jarvis, a man who was striving to end issues between black and white people, such as giving natives equal rights, better jobs, and better hospitals.