Cry, the Beloved Country

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Money/Gold Symbol Icon
Money is a common manifestation of the corruption of Johannesburg. Sometimes, there is not enough of it, driving crime, poverty, disease, suffering, and death. Other times—like when gold is discovered at Odendaalsrust—there is too much of it, unevenly distributed in the wrong hands. The forces controlling the mining throw up temporary communities around the mines and do not pay their men enough. These miners are removed from their families and homes, forced to dig up and ruin the earth for the profit of their white overlords, and ultimately the tribe and the land it used to live on is destroyed, leading to more crime, poverty, disease, suffering, and death. Also, the presence of gold drives up speculation, threatening downfall at any moment. Money in Cry, The Beloved Country is unstable, misappropriated, and, ultimately, insufficient.

Money/Gold Quotes in Cry, the Beloved Country

The Cry, the Beloved Country quotes below all refer to the symbol of Money/Gold. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scribner edition of Cry, the Beloved Country published in 2003.
Book I, Chapter 7 Quotes

I see only one hope for our country, and that is when white men and black men, desiring neither power nor money, but desiring only the good of their country, come together to work for it.

Related Characters: Theophilus Msimangu (speaker)
Related Symbols: Money/Gold
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

Stephen and Msimangu have gone to see Stephen's brother John at his carpentry shop. There, John has spoken at length about his life and political work, including mentioning that he is no longer married to his wife, Esther, and also no longer attends church. As Stephen and Msimangu go to leave, Msimangu tells John that he sees "only one hope for our country," which is white and black men working together "desiring neither power nor money." This comment is clearly an indirect criticism of John's political motives and activities. Although John seems to have some well-grounded critiques of the racism that dominates South African society, this critique is undermined by John's own desire for money and power, as well as his desire to speak English instead of Zulu. 

Overall, the novel leaves unresolved the question of whether it is possible for South Africa to be saved by men who desire "neither money nor power." Although there are examples of good men who are white as well as black, it is also clear that these men have limited power against the forces of greed, corruption, and poverty surrounding them. In this instance, Msimangu's speech has little effect on John, who is too blinded by his desire for money and power to truly care about the good of the country. 

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Book I, Chapter 9 Quotes

All roads lead to Johannesburg. If you are white or if you are black they lead to Johannesburg. If the crops fail, there is work in Johannesburg. If there are taxes to be paid, there is work in Johannesburg. If the farm is too small to be divided further, some must go to Johannesburg. If there is a child to be born that must be delivered in secret, it can be delivered in Johannesburg.

Related Symbols: Johannesburg, Money/Gold, Earth/Land
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

Stephen has learned that Absalom is living in a shanty town, and he and Msimangu have set off to find him. Meanwhile, a second voice has joined the primary narrator, and in this passage the narration returns to the earlier statement that "all roads lead to Johannesburg," expanding on the many reasons why people are drawn to the city. In contrast to more optimistic narratives that portray urbanization as an opportunity for multiculturalism, social mobility, and innovation, this passage presents the appeal of Johannesburg in rather negative terms. The narrator shows that people are forced to go to Johannesburg as a result of desperation caused by failed crops, poverty, or unwanted pregnancies. Rather than being a city of opportunity, Johannesburg is the inevitable destination of those who are poor, oppressed, or otherwise unlucky. 

Book I, Chapter 12 Quotes

Some cry for the cutting up of South Africa without delay into separate areas, where white can live without black, and black without white, where black can farm their own land and mine their own minerals and administer their own laws. And others cry away with the compound system, that brings men to the towns without their wives and children, and breaks up the tribe and the house and the man, and they ask for the establishment of villages for the labourers in mines and industry.

Related Symbols: Money/Gold, Earth/Land
Page Number: 99-
Explanation and Analysis:

A town hall has been held at which the murder of Arthur Jarvis is discussed, alongside other concerns about crime, social welfare, and race relations. The crowd has debated education, with some proposing that enrollment of black children in school should increase; others oppose this idea. Eventually, the crowd begins to discuss the possibility of apartheid––"the cutting up of South Africa... into separate areas, where white can live without black." The introduction of this suggestion into the context of the town hall reveals the way in which apartheid was framed as a "solution" to the problems of poverty and crime. The implication was that South Africa's problems were a result of racial mixing.

Using this logic, it is possible to make apartheid seem like an attractive and fair solution (as "separate but equal" segregation was for many whites in the American South). The narrator's explanation that black South Africans could "farm their own land and administer their own laws" makes it seem as if apartheid would benefit black people, affording them more freedom and self-determination. However, this masks the reality of what the separation of the races really entailed. Because of colonization, whites were far wealthier and possessed control over land, resources, and power––even though these entities originally belonged to native black South Africans. Overall, this passage makes clear how easy it can be to disguise oppressive policies as beneficial to those they are designed to exploit. 

We do not know, we do not know. We shall live from day to day, and put more locks on the doors, and get a fine fierce dog when the fine fierce bitch next door has pups, and hold on to our handbags more tenaciously; and the beauty of the trees by night, and the raptures of lovers under the stars, these things we shall forego. We shall forego the coming home drunken through the midnight streets, and the evening walk over the star-lit veld. We shall be careful, and knock this off our lives, and knock that off our lives, and hedge ourselves about with safety and precaution. And our lives will shrink, but they shall be the lives of superior beings; and we shall live with fear, but at least it will not be a fear of the unknown.

Related Symbols: Money/Gold
Page Number: 100-101
Explanation and Analysis:

Following the murder of Arthur Jarvis, a town hall meeting is taking place to discuss the problem of crime. Among the courses of action proposed is the apartheid system, in which white and black people live and work separately. The narrator raises the question of what would happen given the fact that there are more black South Africans than white, yet whites hold the majority of money and power. In this passage, a chorus of voices responds "we don't know." At the same time, the chorus suggests that what will happen is that white people will become more fearful, increasing the security apparatus in their homes and avoiding going out at night.

Although the chorus speaks with an anonymous "we," it is clear the voices are those of white South Africans, due to clues such as the use of the Afrikaans word "veld" (meaning "field"). This passage illustrates how a culture of fear negatively impacts everyone in society, no matter how wealthy and powerful. As the chorus states, "our lives will shrink, but they shall be the lives of superior beings." What this sentence demonstrates is the subtle, contradictory logic of white supremacy––although white people are negatively impacted by racism, they also benefit in many ways, as racist structures secure their position of power in monetary, social, political, and even psychological terms. 

Book II, Chapter 20 Quotes

The old tribal system was, for all its violence and savagery, for all its superstition and witchcraft, a moral system. Our natives today produce criminals and prostitutes and drunkards, not because it is their nature to do so, but because their simple system of order and tradition and convention has been destroyed. It was destroyed by the impact of our own civilization. Our civilization has therefore an inescapable duty to set up another system of order and tradition and convention. It is true that we hoped to preserve the tribal system by a policy of segregation. That was permissible. But we never did it thoroughly or honestly. We set aside one-tenth of the land for four-fifths of the people. Thus we made it inevitable, and some say we did it knowingly, that labour would come to the towns. We are caught in the toils of our own selfishness.

Related Characters: Arthur Jarvis (speaker)
Related Symbols: Johannesburg, Money/Gold, Earth/Land
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:

James Jarvis has gone to Arthur's house and has looked through his books and papers, noting many books on Abraham Lincoln and documents indicating Arthur was President of the African Boys' Club. James also discovers a manuscript that Arthur was working on when he died. In this passage from the manuscript, Arthur describes the way in which European colonization "destroyed" the tribal communities of South Africa. From a contemporary perspective, Arthur seems rather forgiving of the white colonizers––he labels the policy of segregation "permissible," and describes the tribal system in typically racist terms, calling it full of "violence and savagery." However, for a white South African to be writing such a passage at the time would have been highly unusual. 

Arthur's critiques of the destructive legacy of European colonialism cohere with observations made throughout the novel, particular his statement that black South Africans remain stuck in a cycle of violence because "their simple system of order and tradition and convention has been destroyed." Furthermore, Arthur presciently identifies the fact that segregation was enacted in a dishonest way. He argues that the highly inequitable division of land forced people to come to the towns for work; as the rest of the novel shows, this mass influx of people has created further poverty, violence, and crime. 

Book II, Chapter 23 Quotes

For mines are for men, not for money. And money is not something to go mad about, and throw your hat into the air for. Money is for food and clothes and comfort, and a visit to the pictures. Money is to make happy the lives of children. Money is for security, and for dreams, and for hopes, and for purposes. Money is for buying the fruits of the earth, of the land where you were born.

Related Characters: Arthur Jarvis (speaker)
Related Symbols: Money/Gold, Earth/Land
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

James Jarvis has gone to Arthur's house and has been reading from Arthur's unfinished manuscript about the socioeconomic problems plaguing South Africa. Arthur has described how European colonialism destroyed the indigenous tribal system of South Africa, thereby leaving native South Africans without a community through which to structure their lives. In this passage, Arthur turns his focus to the mines, arguing that the riches of the mines should be "for men, not for money." This distinction alludes to the problem of pursuing money for its own sake. As Arthur explains, money has many necessary uses––"food and clothes and comfort," "security," and "buying the fruits of the earth." In one sense, this passage emphasizes the importance of money, implying that without sufficient income, people will suffer. 

On the other hand, this passage also serves as a warning against greed. As Arthur argues, money is not valuable in itself; rather, it is only valuable because of the good things it can bring to people. The implication of this statement is that it is very possible to have too much money. Arthur's statement that money should be used for "purposes" sounds vague; however, it takes on a deeper meaning within the context of global imperialism. Many people today observe that the driving force behind colonization was greed––European colonizers identified an opportunity to grow rich through the exploitation of natural resources and the labor of indigenous populations, and developed colonial systems and racial philosophies accordingly. 

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Money/Gold Symbol Timeline in Cry, the Beloved Country

The timeline below shows where the symbol Money/Gold appears in Cry, the Beloved Country. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book I, Chapter 2
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
After sending the child away, Stephen asks his wife to get the “St. Chad’s” money, so that he may go and fetch his sister. But once he has the money... (full context)
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Christian Faith Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
...himself and gives in to what he knows is true, and they count out the money. Worried that he will not have enough for the journey, Stephen’s wife gives Stephen some... (full context)
Book I, Chapter 3
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
...and is anxious about the upcoming journey – how difficult it will be, how much money it will cost at every turn. He also recalls how dangerous the streets of Johannesburg... (full context)
Book I, Chapter 4
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...he has never heard spoken. Around him, people talk about the mines. Stephen sees the gold mines, in the distance, and asks the other passengers about them. They explain how the... (full context)
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Christian Faith Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...a ticket from the ticket office while he waits in line. Stephen gives him some money and waits. After a while, he realized he doesn’t see the young man anymore. When... (full context)
Book I, Chapter 7
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...child. He inwardly mulls about the expenses of things, and worries about his own of money. He wonders how Gertrude was able to save so little, given her recent profession. (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Christian Faith Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...anything. But in Johannesburg, he says, he can advance himself, make a great deal of money, and have some power and influence. It’s not perfect, and there are other masters, but... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Christian Faith Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...not there. He tells Msimangu and Stephen that the mines are where all of the money is coming from, but the black men who dig it up are paid too little... (full context)
Book I, Chapter 9
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
...refuses, saying that there is already no privacy in the house and no amount of money can dissuade her, but after listing off the family’s many expenses as compared to their... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
...but to get a house they must get off a list, and they have no money to bribe the authorities. People are given one week, then thrown out. There are no... (full context)
Book I, Chapter 12
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...and even those who attend only go so far. When asked who will pay the money for increased education, the chorus debates that also—some say whites should pay, because if they... (full context)
Book I, Chapter 17
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...them. But she does not let rooms to strangers, because she does not need the money. She is a little troubled by Gertrude’s loose manner, and is worried about her young... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
...a place like she is now. He goes to fetch her, and observes that his money is running low. (full context)
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...about the trial, and offers to take it pro deo, for God—that is, for no money. He talks to Stephen about the information that he needs to defend Absalom. After he... (full context)
Book II, Chapter 21
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...they would ask for higher wages in the mines, because if they were paid more money, then the mines would close. He goes on like this for a moment before John... (full context)
Book II, Chapter 23
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
While Absalom’s trial is going on, new gold is discovered in South Africa, and everyone’s attention becomes focused on Odendaalsrust. There is a... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
There are some people, however, who are wet blankets about the gold. They suggest that the money earned in the shares should go toward the poor, or... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...split apart and living in a compound. And some people laud this idea, because the money from the mines should lead to food and shelter and stability and little pleasures, not... (full context)
Book II, Chapter 25
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
...her niece go into town, leaving James behind at the house. He reads about the gold rush at Odendaalsrust, and how the money and speculation around the gold may prove disastrous... (full context)
Book II, Chapter 26
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
...voice electrifies the crowd, makes the policemen uneasy. The protest is about the recently discovered gold. John tells the crowd that they, black men, are just asking for their share of... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
...only their continued low wages and poverty that permits it to survive? Why so little money for their hard work? He suggests that there is a kind of conspiracy, to keep... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
The strike comes and goes, and is confined to the gold mines. Some black men are killed. Church leaders suggest that a union should be organized,... (full context)
Book II, Chapter 29
Christian Faith Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...that their son is keeping her in his thoughts. Absalom says that he has some money for his own wife and child. He also asks that the child be named Peter,... (full context)
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...James and Margaret are also preparing to leave Johannesburg. James leaves a large sum of money to John Harrison to start a club, possibly in Arthur Jarvis’s name. (full context)
Book III, Chapter 30
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
Stephen returns home and talks to his wife. He shows her the money from Msimangu. She is overwhelmed with the gift. Stephen then prepares to tell her about... (full context)