Cry, the Beloved Country is strongly influenced by the American novel The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, published in 1939. Like The Grapes of Wrath, Paton's novel uses the language of the Bible, has a number of parallels with the Biblical story of Job (Steinbeck's book deals with a family named Joad), and is what is called a "social protest novel."Novels of this sort have existed almost as long as the novel form has existed. In fact, the book widely accepted as the first English novel, Samuel Richardson's Pamela, among other things points out certain evils in eighteenth-century English society. Two "social protest" novels that had a pronounced effect on society were Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast (which is about the unbearable conditions under which American sailors had to work and live more than a century ago)
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