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Barron's Booknotes-Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton

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CHAPTER 23

This chapter interrupts the trial to bring news of a rich gold discovery at Odendaalsrust in the Orange Free State. The structure of the chapter is like that of Chapter 12 inasmuch as it reports what many people are saying. But whereas in Chapter 12 the narrator spoke sadly of what fear was doing to the country, this time the narrator uses intense sarcasm to depict money-hungry whites as destroyers of the land. Read the chapter aloud, putting the sarcasm into your voice. Whom, in your opinion, are you encouraged to side with-the rich, or the "leftists" and "Kafferboeties"- those who work for the good of blacks? Praise is implied for Father Beresford, a courageous churchman who speaks out, and for Kafferboeties who say it's time to try out Sir Ernest Oppenheimer's idea for a new kind of mining camp-villages for whole families.



What is the point about how difficult it is to pronounce the Afrikaans "Odendaalsrust?" Compared with what is happening to blacks in Johannesburg, how does that concern for pronunciation strike you? Lest we miss the fact that we are to consider Johannesburg a terrible place, the narrator says what a good idea to build a new Johannesburg-why, it could even include another Shanty Town! Why might some readers consider this pure irony-words meaning exactly the opposite of what they appear to say? In the final two sentences, after the line of asterisks, the narrator ensures our understanding by dropping the irony to say, simply and straightforwardly, "No second Johannesburg is needed upon the earth. One is enough."

NOTE: The models for Father Beresford are Father Trevor Huddleston and Bishop Reeves of Johannesburg. During the 1960s, when Paton's passport was revoked, he was forbidden to see such outspoken Anglican friends of his as these two. Both were exiled from their country in the turmoil of the 1950s and early 1960s.

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Barron's Booknotes-Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
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