Alan Paton Was A Writer

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Alan Paton was a writer, an activist, and the founder of the South African Liberal party. He fought against apartheid legislation introduced by the National Party, with the intent to abolish racism and segregation. He was one of the most influential figures of South Africa; his words exposed racial injustice and helped transform the politics of the nation.Paton was born in 1903 in Pietermaritzburg in Natal, South Africa. He loved the local land of Pietermaritzburg as much as he loved literature.

He attended high school at Maritzburg College, and later received a bachelor of science from the University of Natal in 1923 with distinction in physics. He was also the student representative to the first Imperial Conference of Students in London. He taught children math and chemistry at Ixopo High School, Natal, from 1925 to 1928. In 1928 he joined the staff of Maritzburg College; the same year he married Doris Francis.

They had two children together, David and Jonathon. In the early years of his career he began taking interest in race relations, joining the South African Institute of Race Relations in 1930. (Macdonald).A few years later, he was sick with enteric fever, and decided to redirect his life. In 1935 he became the principal of Johannesburg's Diepkloof Reformatory for delinquent African boys. He quickly made changes to upgrade their quality of life, restore their dignity, encourage better behavior, and provide job training and paying work opportunities.

Paton was very successful, and earned a great amount of positive international reputation. Ineligible for military duty, he became the wartime chair of the combined Young Men's Christian Association and Toc H War Services. He was appointed to the Anglican Diocesan Commission to report on church and race in 1942. The next year he began a series of articles on crime and punishment, and penal reform for Forum.

In 1946 he began writing his book Cry, the Beloved Country. (Seidel).In 1948, Cry, the Beloved Country was published in New York City; the same year the apartheid political system in South Africa was implemented. The book is a story about a pastor named Stephen Kumalo who lives in Ixopo Ndotsheni. He receives a letter from the priest Msimangu who lives in Johannesburg. The letter informs Kumalo that his sister Gertrude is very ill, and urges him to come help her.

He journeys to Johannesburg and finds that his daughter is not physically sick, but mentally; she is now brewing beer and has become a prostitute. Gertrude agrees to let Kumalo take her back to Ndotsheni once his journey in Johannesburg is over. He now seeks out to find his son Absalom.

After searching for days, Kumalo finally learns that his son is living in a reformatory, and will soon be having a baby. He later learns that his son had been arrested for murder. (Walker).The victim was Arthur Jarvis, the son of Stephen Kumalo's neighbor, James Jarvis. James and his son Arthur had never been very close, and James realized he never really knew his son.

He reads some of his son's essays, and finds that he is beginning to know his son better, and wishes they had been closer. After reading his son's works, Jarvis decides to take up his work as an activist on behalf of South Africa's black population.Absalom Kumalo goes to court and tells the jury and judge that he did not mean to kill. He and two other boys had gone to the house of Arthur Jarvis to steal. Absalom carried a loaded revolver, another boy carried a metal bar that he used to knock out the house servant. Absalom said he was scared when he saw Arthur come through the doorway, and pulled the trigger.

The judge discusses that Absalom would not have brought a loaded revolver without the intention to kill. The judge declares him guilty of murdering Arthur Jarvis and sentences him to death by hanging. After the trial, Absalom marries the girl who is pregnant with his baby, and meets once more with his father.Stephen Kumalo returns home with his daughter-in-law and his nephew, having found that Gertrude had ran away during the night. He returns to the village and immediately gets to work on improving it. The story ends on the day of his son's execution.This book forever changed Alan Paton's life and South Africa as a whole.

It exposed the racial injustice and political corruption, and showed millions of people all around the world what was going on in South Africa. Two films have been made about the book, and it has been adapted into a musical. The book brought him up from up from lower class to upper middle. After the publication of Cry, the Beloved Country, Paton became more involved in politics. (Walker).Just four months after Paton's book was published, the National Party came to power in South Africa. Alan Paton's second novel, Too Late the Phalarope was published in 1953 while he was working at tuberculosis settlement.

The book is a story about an Afrikaner policemen named Pieter van Vlaanderen who is usually enforcing the laws, but eventually breaks the law from a legal and moral standpoint. Five years after the National Party came to power Paton founded the Liberal Party of South Africa which fought against the apartheid legislation introduced by the National Party. He remained the president of SALP (South African Liberal Party) until the late 1960's when the party was forced to end by the apartheid regime, because it was composed of both black and white members.

While he was still a member of the Liberal Party he gave evidence to mitigate the treason sentence for Nelson Mendela during his 1964 trial. During this time he was friends with Bernard Friedman, another activist who founded the Progressive Party. (Macdonald).Alan Paton opposed protests against apartheid, preferring to speak peacefully. Other former SALP members felt the same, but such was not so for all members.

Other members took a more violent approach which brought about a less positive reputation for the Liberal Party of South Africa. In 1960, when Paton returned from New York where he had been awarded the annual Freedom Award, his passport was confiscated and not given back until 10 years later. In 1967 Alan's wife Doris died and a few years later he married Anne Margaret Hopkins. He continued writing for the rest of his life until he died in 1988 Lintrose, Botha's Hill in Natal. (Seidel).Alan Paton was one of the most influential writers of all time. He wrote several novels, short stories, biographies, a two-part autobiography that he never completed, and several articles on crime and punishment.

Not only was he an influential writer, his teaching at Diepkloof Reformatory redirected the lives of thousands of young African Boys, leading them to live better lives. Statistics say that when students were given leave from the reformatory to visit family and friends, less than one percent of the students broke his trust and did not return. He changed their lives and provided South Africa with more intelligent, honest, hard working people.

His words and teaching peacefully and successfully helped transform an entire country, helping to shed light on the racial injustice and corruption in the South African government. His literature is studied still today in schools around the world. Alan Paton was a very remarkable husband, father, writer, and activist.

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