By Harold Bloom (ed)
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Additional info for Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country; New Edition (Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations)
It was not for man’s knowing. He put it from his mind, for it was a secret. (p. 234) And just as many aspects of human existence are surrounded by a nimbus of mystery, so the law is deified, is put into a position where it cannot be questioned; it is treated as a divine institution which requires unquestioning awe and respect as an utterly objective arbiter over the subjective follies and anarchies of men: You may not smoke in this Court, you may not whisper or speak or laugh. You must dress decently, and if you are a man, you may not wear your hat unless such is your religion.
That is a long way, for an old man. —Men as old as you are doing it every day, umfundisi. And women, and some that are sick, and some crippled, and children. They start walking at four in the morning, and they do not get back till eight at night. They have a bite of food, and their eyes hardly close on the pillow before they must stand up again, sometimes to start off with nothing but hot water in their stomachs. I cannot stop you taking a bus, umfundisi, but this is a cause to fight for. If we lose it, then they will have to pay more in Sophiatown and Claremont and Kliptown and Pimville.
The fathers of the dead men console and learn to respect each other. The hero who bears the blows of fate is here doubled in the persons of the two fathers; we share their suﬀering as they share each other’s suﬀering, in pity and terror. The gods are secularized as the pitiless justice of the law. 3 It is not, however, only because of its apolitical nature that tragedy becomes a mode which results in mystiﬁcation rather than revelation. In the ﬁnal essay of Language And Silence, George Steiner, discussing whether revolutionary art will succeed in producing ‘high’ revolutionary tragedy, remarks: no less than a tragedy with God, with a compensating mechanism of ﬁnal justice and retribution, a tragedy without God, a tragedy 36 Stephen Watson of pure immanence, is a self-contradiction.