About Cry, the Beloved Country
Alan Paton wrote Cry, the Beloved Country during his tenure as the principal at the Diepkloof Reformatory for delinquent African boys. He started writing the novel in Trondheim, Norway in September of 1946 and finished it in San Francisco on Christmas Eve of that same year. Concerning the state of racial affairs in South Africa, the novel tells the story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his search in Johannesburg for his son, who is accused of murdering the white social reformer Arthur Jarvis. Paton gave the novel to Aubrey and Marigold Burns of Fairfax, California, who sent it to several American publishers, including Charles Scribner's Sons, whose editor, Maxwell Perkins, immediately agreed to its publication. According to Paton's note on the 1987 edition of the book, the novel was titled as such during a competition in which Paton, Aubrey and Marigold Burns each decided to write a proposed title and all three chose Cry, the Beloved Country.
Upon the publication of the novel in 1948, Cry, the Beloved Country became an instant phenomenon with near unanimous praise. Soon after its publication the composer Kurt Weill adapted it into a musical, "Lost in the Stars," and Paton himself worked on the screenplay for the 1951 film adaptation of the novel, directed by Zoltan Korda. In 1995, Miramax Films again filmed Cry, the Beloved Country, with James Earl Jones and Richard Harris in the roles of Stephen Kumalo and James Jarvis, respectively.
Undoubtedly much of the power of the novel comes from its depiction of the particular social conditions in its contemporary South Africa. The novel takes place in the time immediately before the institution of apartheid in the nation (the character Msimangu even discusses the possibility of apartheid), which occurred within a year of the novel's 1948 publication. Therefore, although the novel does not discuss the state of South Africa during the apartheid years, Cry, the Beloved Country is often used as a proxy for lessons concerning apartheid-era South Africa.
Even before the apartheid years, as Paton makes clear in his novel, discrimination against blacks in South Africa was significant. Blacks were forbidden from holding political office, had no viable unions, and certain positions were closed to them. The 1913 Native Lands Act prevented blacks outside of the Cape Province from buying land not part of certain reserves. But apartheid was officially institutionalized in 1948 with the election of the National Party and Daniel Malan as Prime Minister. The National Party enshrined apartheid into law with such legislation as the Group Areas Act, which specified that separate areas be reserved for the four main racial groups (whites, blacks, Coloreds, and Asians). The African National Congress, a group of black leaders under the leadership of Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela, emerged as the principal opposition to apartheid and the National Party's reforms. The African National Congress became increasingly militant, even using terrorist tactics that led to the government banning the ANC in 1960.
After several decades, the end of apartheid was a slow one that began with the election of F.W. de Klerk as leader of the National Party and President of South Africa. De Klerk began to permit multiracial crowds to protest against apartheid and met with blacks leaders such as Bishop Desmond Tutu. Most importantly, he lifted the ban on the ANC and ordered the release of the imprisoned Nelson Mandela. By 1993, the National Party and the ANC reached an agreement that pledged to institute a democratic South Africa. The ANC won political power in April of 1994 during the first nonracial democratic election, with 63 percent of the vote. Under the ANC, Mandela repealed all apartheid legislation, while the South African parliament approved a new constitution in 1996.

Short Summary

Stephen Kumalo, the pastor at the village of Ndotsheni in the Ixopo region of South Africa, receives a letter from the Reverend Theophilus Msimangu that requests that he go to Johannesburg to rescue his sister, Gertrude, who is very ill. In order to undertake the journey, Kumalo must use the money intended to be used to send his son, Absalom, to St. Chad's for his education. Absalom had gone to Johannesburg himself, and has not been heard from since. When a friend of Stephen Kumalo takes him to the train station to Johannesburg, he requests that Kumalo give a letter to the daughter of Sibeko, who now works for the Smith family in Johannesburg.
When Kumalo reaches Johannesburg, he waits in line for a bus and is tricked by a young man whom Kumalo gives money to buy a ticket for him. Kumalo finally arrives at the Mission House, where Msimangu arranges for him to stay in the house of Mrs. Lithebe. Msimangu tells Kumalo that Gertrude's husband has not returned from the mines where he was recruited to work, and now Gertrude has "many husbands" and was sent to jail for making bootlegged liquor and working as a prostitute. Msimangu also tells Kumalo that Kumalo's brother John is no longer a carpenter, and now works as a politician. The two men visit Gertrude in the Claremont district of Johannesburg. Kumalo chastises Gertrude for her behavior and for not considering her young son, and tells her brother that John Kumalo will know where his son, Absalom, lives in Johannesburg. Kumalo takes Gertrude and the young child back to the house of Mrs. Lithebe.
Stephen Kumalo goes to visit his brother John, who tells him that his wife has left him and that he is now living with another woman. John claims that he is more free in Johannesburg, for he is no longer subject to the chief and he has his own business. John tells his brother that his son and Absalom had a room together in Alexandra and they were working at the Doornfontein Textiles Company. At Doornfontein, Kumalo learns that Absalom was staying with a Mrs. Ndlela in Sophiatown. Mrs. Ndlela gives him a forwarding address, care of Mrs. Mkize in Alexandra. She also tells Kumalo that she did not like Absalom's friends.
Because of a bus boycott in Alexandra, Msimangu and Kumalo must walk to Alexandra. They reach the house of Mrs. Mkize, who seems obviously afraid and claim that Absalom has been away from the house for nearly a year. Msimangu tells Kumalo to take a walk to get a drink, and while he is gone interrogates Mrs. Mkize. He tells her that no harm will come to her from whatever he tells her, so she admits that they should talk to the taxi driver Hlabeni. From this taxi driver, they learn that Absalom went to Orlando to live amongst the squatters in Shanty Town. On the way back to the Mission House, Msimangu and Kumalo see a white man driving black passengers, and Kumalo smiles at the white man's sense of social justice, while Msimangu claims that the kindness beats him.
Kumalo goes to Shanty Town with Msimangu, where they meet Mrs. Hlatshwayos, who tells them that Absalom stayed with her until the magistrate sent him to the reformatory. At the reformatory, a white man who works there informs them that Absalom left the reformatory early because of good behavior and that he is now in Pimville, ready to marry a girl whom he got pregnant. At Pimville, they meet the girl, who admits that Absalom went to Springs on Saturday and has not yet returned. Msimangu warns him that he can do nothing about the girl, but Kumalo says that the girl's child will be his grandchild and that he is obligated. Kumalo learns from the white man at the reformatory that Absalom has not been at work this week.
While the white man at the reformatory undertakes a search for Absalom, Kumalo accompanies Msimangu to Ezenzeleni, the place of the blind, where he will hold a service. At dinner, they learn of the murder of Arthur Jarvis, a renowned city engineer who was the President of the African Boys' Club and the son of James Jarvis of Carisbrooke. Arthur Jarvis was renowned for his interest in social problems and for his efforts for the welfare of the non-European sections of the community. It is eventually acknowledged that Absalom Kumalo is suspected of the murder of Arthur Jarvis, and Kumalo wonders how he failed with his son.
Stephen Kumalo tells John about his son's involvement in the murder of Arthur Jarvis, and the two visit the prison together, since John knows that his son was friends with Absalom and thus a possible accomplice. At the prisoner, Kumalo finds his son, and interrogates him about the various facts of the case. Absalom claims that he shot Arthur Jarvis merely because he was frightened, but did not intend to kill him. John Kumalo claims that there is no proof that his son, who was involved in the robbery with Absalom and another friend, Johannes Pafuri, was involved.
The young white man from the reformatory visits Mrs. Lithebe's house in order to talk to Kumalo about a lawyer, because he does not trust John and thinks that he will attempt to place all of the blame on Absalom. He warns Kumalo that no matter what happens his son will be severely punished. The next day, Kumalo visits the pregnant girl in Pimville and tells her what happened to Absalom. He interrogates her, asking whether she really wants to become part of their family and whether she wants another husband. Kumalo eventually becomes convinced that the girl will come with him and live a quiet life in rural Ixopo.
The girl returns with them to the house of Mrs. Lithebe. Unlike Gertrude, the girl enjoys being there, while Gertrude behaves carelessly and dislikes living there. Kumalo visits Absalom in prison again and attempts to arrange a marriage between his son and the girl. He learns that John Kumalo's son (also named John) and the other suspect, Johannes Pafuri, have placed the blame entirely on Absalom. Father Vincent, a white pastor, introduces Kumalo to the lawyer Mr. Carmichael, who will take the case pro deo.
The second section of the novel takes the perspective of James Jarvis, the father of the murdered Arthur Jarvis. James Jarvis learns from the police captain van Jaarsveld that his son has been murdered and that there is a plane waiting at Pietermaritzburg that can take him to Johannesburg. Jarvis tells his wife Margaret as he arranges to make the journey to Johannesburg. When they arrive, Jarvis meets John Harrison, the brother of Mary, the wife of the late Arthur Jarvis. He tells them that Mary and her children have taken the news poorly, and that the police have been combing the plantations on Parkwold Ridge. Jarvis also learns that his son had been writing a paper on "The Truth About Native Crime" and admits to John that he and his son did not agree on the question of native crime. Arthur Jarvis had been learning Afrikaans and considered learning Sesuto, perhaps to help him stand as a Member of Parliament in the next election. Jarvis wonders why this crime happened to his son, of all people, and laments that he never learned more about his son.
During the funeral service at Parkwold Church for Arthur Jarvis, James Jarvis experiences several firsts. The service is the first time that Jarvis attends church with black people, and it is also the first time that he shakes hands with one. Jarvis, wishing to learn more about his son, asks John Harrison to take him to the Boys' Club in Claremont where his son did a great deal of community service work. Jarvis soon learns that Richard Mpiring, the servant at Arthur's house, was able to identify one of the culprits as a former servant. Jarvis reads through his son's manuscript, and is touched by his son's criticisms of South Africa as a nation that claims to be Christian yet practices few of the Christian ideals.
During the trial, the defendants (Absalom Kumalo, John Kumalo and Johannes Pafuri) are each asked their plea. They each plead not guilty, but Absalom does so only because he cannot plead guilty to culpable homicide. Absalom testifies that Johannes hit Mpiring in the back with an iron bar, and that he shot Arthur Jarvis simply because of fear. The prosecutor asks Absalom why he carried a loaded gun when he did not actually intend to use it, but Absalom cannot give a satisfactory answer. After court is adjourned for the day, Stephen Kumalo exits the courtroom with Msimangu, Gertrude and Mrs. Lithebe. He trembles when he sees James Jarvis, wondering how he can look at the man whose son Absalom murdered.
Upon returning to his son's home, Jarvis finds another work, "Private Essays on the Evolution of a South African," in which Arthur wrote that it is difficult to be a South African and that, although his parents gave him a great deal, they sheltered him from the actual South Africa. In this paper, Arthur Jarvis wrote that he dedicates himself to South Africa because he cannot deny the part of himself that is a South African.
James and Margaret Jarvis visit the home of Barbara Smith, one of Margaret's nieces. While they are visiting there, Stephen Kumalo visits with the letter from Sibeko. When Jarvis sees him, Stephen Kumalo trembles and nearly falls ill. Jarvis comforts him, and asks what is wrong. Kumalo admits that there is a heavy thing between then, and finally tells him that it was his son who murdered Arthur Jarvis. Jarvis tells Kumalo that there is no anger in him. Kumalo and Jarvis learn from the Smith daughter that Sibeko's daughter was fired because she started to brew liquor in her room, and that she does not know nor care where the girl is now. When translating Smith's words into Zulu, Jarvis leaves out the part that she does not care where the girl is. When Kumalo leaves respectfully, Jarvis admits to his wife that he is disturbed because of something that came out of the past.
During a meeting in the public square, John Kumalo gives a speech demanding greater reparations for blacks in South Africa, but despite the possibility that he may cause unrest and even riots, John Kumalo restrains himself, for he does not want to be arrested, simply out of the discomfort that it may cause. Jarvis is also at the rally, and listens as John Kumalo speaks.
Mrs. Lithebe and Gertrude argue over Gertrude's behavior, for Mrs. Lithebe believes that Gertrude associates with the wrong type of people and warns her not to hurt her brother any further. Gertrude finally suggests that she wants to become a nun, and although Mrs. Lithebe is happy at the change in Gertrude, she asks her to think of the small boy. Gertrude finally asks the pregnant girl if she would take care of her son if she were to become a nun, and the girl eagerly agrees.
The judge issues a guilty verdict int eh case for Absalom Kumalo, but finds no legitimate evidence that John Kumalo and Johannes Pafuri were present and thus finds them not guilty. The judge finds no mitigating circumstances, and sentences Absalom to death by hanging. When the court is dismissed, the young white man from the reformatory leaves court with Kumalo, thus breaking tradition and exiting along with the black men, an action that is not taken lightly.
Father Vincent performs a wedding ceremony at the prison, marrying Absalom and the pregnant girl. After returning from prison, Kumalo visits his brother's shop and they argue when Stephen suggests that he may have some reason to be bitter toward his brother. Wishing to harm his brother, Stephen suggests that there may be someone in his household who wants to betray him. When John laments having such a friend, Stephen says that Absalom had friends who betrayed him. John throws Stephen out of his shop and shouts at him in the street. Stephen feels ashamed for provoking his brother, for he only wished to tell his brother how power corrupts and that a man who fights for justice must be pure.
Before Jarvis leaves, he gives John Harrison a letter requesting that John continue Arthur's work, and includes a check for ten thousand dollars asking him to start the Arthur Jarvis club. Before Kumalo leaves, Msimangu hosts a party at Mrs. Lithebe's home in which he praises her for her kindness. Before they leave, Msimangu tells Kumalo that he is giving up all his worldly possessions and gives Kumalo money for all of the new duties he has taken up. Before departing for home, Kumalo finds that Gertrude has left, presumably to become a nun.
Stephen Kumalo returns home and tells his wife the verdict and the sentence. He learns that the area where they live has suffered from a drought for a month. Kumalo gives his first sermon since his return, in which beseeches God to give them ran and prays for Africa. Kumalo wonders whether he can remain as pastor considering his family. Kumalo decides that he must speak to the chief and the headmaster of the school about the state of Ndotsheni. When Kumalo speaks to the chief, the chief offers little help. Kumalo suggests that they should try to keep as many people as possible in Ndotsheni. When he returns home, a small white boy visits Kumalo and wishes to learn some words in Zulu. The boy asks for milk, which prompts Kumalo to tell him about the drought and about how small children are dying from it. The boy vows to visit Kumalo again. After dinner, Kumalo's friend asks if a small white boy visited him today, and tells him that he has milk to distribute to the small children. The milk is presumably a gift from the Jarvis estate.
Kumalo receives letters from Johannesburg, including one from Absalom to his wife and parents, one from Msimangu, and one from Mr. Carmichael. Carmichael writes that there will be no mercy for Absalom, and that he will be hanged on the fifteenth of the month. Kumalo's wife suggests that Kumalo distribute milk to the children in order to distract him from the pain. Kumalo sees Jarvis, who meets with the magistrate and the chief. Although Kumalo cannot hear their discussion, they appear to be discussing an important matter and use sticks to discuss their plans. Jarvis remains after the others leave. As a storm approaches, Jarvis and Kumalo remain in the church together. Jarvis learns that there will be no mercy for Absalom.
The small white boy returns to the house to learn Zulu, and meets Gertrude's child and Kumalo's wife. When he leaves, Kumalo goes to the church and meets Napoleon Letsitsi, the new agricultural demonstrator. He says that Jarvis has sent him to teach farming in Ndotsheni, and tells Kumalo that there will be a dam so that the cattle always have water to drink and thus produce milk.
Kumalo's friend tells Kumalo that Mrs. Jarvis is dead, and Kumalo writes a letter of condolence to James Jarvis, despite the worry that she might have died of grief and that a letter might be inappropriate. When the Bishop visits Kumalo, he suggests that Kumalo retire as pastor, but Kumalo says that if he were to retire his post and leave Ndotsheni, he would die. The Bishop says that he must leave because Jarvis lives nearby, but when the Bishop learns that Jarvis is sending milk for the children, he agrees that Kumalo can remain as pastor.
A new sense of excitement overcomes the valley concerning the new developments. On the day that Absalom is to be executed, Kumalo decides to go up on the mountain, as he had done in various other times of crisis in his life. On his journey to the mountain, Kumalo sees Jarvis, who tells him that he is moving to Johannesburg to live with his daughter-in-law and her children. While on the mountain, Kumalo thinks of various reasons to give thanks, such as Msimangu, the young man from the reformatory, Mrs. Lithebe, Father Vincent, his wife and friend. He wonders why Jarvis has been so kind despite their history, but he also thinks of those who are suffeirng and wonders when South Africa will become emancipated from fear and bondage.

Character List

Stephen Kumalo
The pastor of Ixopo, a village in the rural South African region of Ndotsheni, Kumalo visits Johannesburg in order to save his sister, Gertrude, when he receives a letter telling him that she is ill, but then begins to search for his son, Absalom, who had gone to Johannesburg but never returned. A kind and just man who believes in the strength of family life, Kumalo searches desperately for his son in order to reunite his family, but becomes an activist for social justice and a return to rural life once he learns that his son is responsible for the murder of Arthur Jarvis. Cry, the Beloved Country is essentially the story of Kumalo's newfound concern for the fate of South Africa and its inhabitants.
James Jarvis
He is a wealthy white man in South Africa whose son, Arthur Jarvis, is a renowned social reformer murdered by Absalom Kumalo during a robbery. When he visits Johannesburg for the funeral for his son and the trial of Absalom, James Jarvis learns more about the social work that Jarvis did on behalf of South Africa and eventually devotes himself to promoting social justice in South Africa. James Jarvis later befriends Stephen Kumalo when they meet by chance while Kumalo delivers a letter. Although a conservative man, James Jarvis eventually devotes himself wholeheartedly to social progress, donating ten thousand dollars to start the Arthur Jarvis Club, donating milk from his estate to help starting children during the drought and arranging for a dam to be built in Ixopo to prevent further droughts.
Absalom Kumalo
The son of Stephen Kumalo, Absalom Kumalo left his family to move to Johannesburg and, as of the beginning of the novel, had been missing ever since. A major portion of the novel is devoted to Stephen's search for Absalom, who has gone from place to place in Johannesburg. When Stephen finds his son, he learns that Absalom had been sent to a reformatory and had gotten a young girl pregnant. A major reason why Absalom was missing is that he murdered Arthur Jarvis when he, Johannes Pafuri, and his cousin John attempted to rob his house. However, Absalom accepts blame for the crime and repents while the others do not. Despite admitting his culpability for the crime, the court sentences Absalom Kumalo to death by hanging.
Reverend Theophilus Msimangu
A minister in Sophiatown, a region of Johannesburg, he requests that Kumalo visit him in Johannesburg in order to save his sister, Gertrude, for she has been in jail and has worked as a prostitute since moving to the city. He serves as Kumalo's guide during his visit to Johannesburg, and eventually gives Kumalo his savings when he decides to forsake all worldly possessions and dedicate himself to serving the poor.
Gertrude Kumalo
Twenty-five years younger than her brother, Stephen, Gertrude Kumalo lives in Johannesburg with her small child. It is her poor situation (she has been in jail for brewing liquor and works as a prostitute) that prompts Msimangu to send a letter to Stephen Kumalo requesting that he save his sister. Although Stephen intends to bring her home to Ixopo, Gertrude retains her errant ways even after moving in with Mrs. Lithebe. Instead of returning to Ixopo with her brother, Gertrude instead leaves her family, presumably to become a nun.
John Kumalo
The brother of Stephen Kumalo, he is a former carpenter who has become a great political leader in Johannesburg primarily because of his charisma and speaking abilities. Unlike his brother, John Kumalo has forsaken the church and now lives a largely immoral life, having divorced his wife and taken up with a mistress. John Kumalo's son (also named John) is also responsible in the murder of Arthur Jarvis, but because there is no tangible evidence he betrays Absalom and is acquitted for the murder.
Mr. Carmichael
Renowned as one of the greatest lawyers in South Africa and a great friend to blacks in the nation, he takes the case of Absalom Kumalo pro deo but unsuccessfully defends him during the trial, in which Absalom is found guilty and sentenced to death.
Mr. de Villiers
He is a participant in a conference discussing native crime who suggests that increased schooling facilities for blacks in South Africa would cause a decrease in juvenile delinquency.
He is a workman at the Doornfontein Textiles Plant where Absalom Kumalo worked. He tells Kumalo and Msimangu that Absalom was staying with Mrs. Ndlela in Sophiatown.
He is one of the major black political leaders in Johannesburg, along with Tomlinson and John Kumalo.
The father of John and Mary Harrison, James and Margaret Jarvis stay with him while they are in Johannesburg. Unlike his son, Harrison holds conservative views concerning racial matters in South Africa and worries greatly about native crime.
John Harrison
The brother of Mary Harrison, the wife of Arthur Jarvis, he meets James and Margaret Jarvis at the airport and helps the Jarvis family during their stay at Johannesburg. John Harrison holds much more liberal views than his father concerning the status of blacks in South Africa. Before leaving for home, James Jarvis gives John Harrison a check for ten thousand dollars and requests that he start the Arthur Jarvis club promoting social work in South Africa.
He is a taxi driver who was friends with Absalom. He tells Kumalo and Msimangu that Absalom went to live in Shanty Town.
Mrs. Hlatshwayos
Absalom Kumalo stayed with this woman while in Shanty Town before he went to the reformatory. She tells Stephen Kumalo and Msimangu that Absalom got a girl pregnant and that he has left the reformatory to live in Pimville.
Captain van Jaarsveld
He is the Ixopo police captain who tells James Jarvis about his son's murder and arranges for Jarvis's travel to Johannesburg.
Arthur Trevalyan Jarvis
A notable city engineer in Johannesburg renowned for his charity work on behalf of blacks in South Africa, he is murdered by Absalom Kumalo during a robbery. The president of the African Boys' Club, Arthur Jarvis is the son of James Jarvis and the author of several papers promoting social work on behalf of blacks in South Africa. It is these writings, which James Jarvis discovers after his son's murder, that prompt James Jarvis to take a greater interest in social work for blacks in South Africa.
Margaret Jarvis
She is the wife of James Jarvis. After a long illness, she dies once she and her husband return from Johannesburg after the trial of Absalom Kumalo, prompting James Jarvis to move to Johannesburg to live with his family.
John Kumalo, Jr.
He is the son of John Kumalo. One of the other defendants in the trial for the murder of Arthur Jarvis, he and Johannes Pafuri were also involved in the robbery and murder. Unlike Absalom, John Kumalo receives a not guilty sentence for the murder and does not accept responsibility for his actions, likely causing a more stringent sentence for Absalom.
Napoleon Letsitsi
He is the new agricultural demonstrator in Johannesburg whom James Jarvis sends to Ndotsheni in order to teach modern farming methods in the region.
Mrs. Lithebe
She is an elderly woman who offers Stephen Kumalo room and board in Johannesburg while he rescues his sister and searches for his son. When Kumalo brings Gertrude back to her house, she frequently argues with Gertrude over the young woman's irresponsible ways and carefree manner, but she rejoices when Gertrude suggests that she may become a nun.
Mr. McLaren
He is the moderator of a conference discussing the plight of South Africa who promotes the idea that native crime will decrease only when native South Africans have worthy purposes and goals.
Mrs. Baby Mkize
She is a resident of Alexandra with whom Absalom Kumalo once stayed. When Msimangu and Kumalo visit her, she fears retribution for telling them where Absalom may be, but when Msimangu reassures her, she refers them to a taxi driver who might know where Absalom is. Absalom and his friends returned to Mkize's house after murdering Arthur Jarvis, and she is a witness at the trial against them.
Michael Mpanza
Stephen Kumalo remembers the story of this young man, who was killed when he accidentally stepped into traffic while in Johannesburg.
Richard Mpiring
He is the servant at the home of Arthur Jarvis who witnesses the robbery and murder and identifies Johannes Pafuri as one of the culprits during the trial. During the robbery, Pafuri hit Mpiring with an iron bar, knocking him unconscious.
Mrs. Ndlela
She is a resident of Sophiatown with whom Absalom Kumalo once stayed. She gives Msimangu and Kumalo a forwarding address for Absalom Kumalo in Alexandra, and tells them that she disliked Absalom's friends but claims to know nothing about any crimes they may have committed.
Johannes Pafuri
The third defendant in the trial of Absalom Kumalo, he conspired with Absalom and John Kumalo and was responsible for hitting the servant Richard Mpiring with an iron bar during the robbery. He pleads not guilty to the murder, and like John Kumalo receives a verdict of not guilty, thus helping to place the entirety of the blame on Absalom.
He is a friend of Kumalo's friend who requests that Kumalo give a letter to his daughter, who is presumably working for the Smith family in Johannesburg. Kumalo learns that Sibeko's daughter was fired for brewing liquor in her room, and that the Smith family neither knows nor cares where she is now.
Barbara Smith
One of Margaret Jarvis's nieces, James and Margaret Jarvis visit her during their time in Johannesburg. It is at her house that James Jarvis meets Stephen Kumalo when Kumalo delivers the letter from Sibeko for his daughter, a former servant at the Smith household.
Along with Dubula and John Kumalo, he is one of the three major black leaders in Johannesburg.
Father Vincent
He is the white priest at the Mission House who tells Stephen Kumalo that the sorrow that he feels over his son is an improvement over fear, for the sorrow can enrich him. He introduces Kumalo to Mr. Carmichael, the lawyer who will defend Absalom.
The Bishop
He visits Stephen Kumalo in Ixopo in order to relieve him of his post and send him to Pietermaritzburg to assist his friend Ntombela at his church. He does this because he presumes that there will be tension because James Jarvis lives nearby, but decides to let Kumalo remain in Ixopo when he reads a letter written by Jarvis thanking Kumalo for his letter of condolence regarding the death of Margaret Jarvis.
The Chief
The political leader of the blacks in Ixopo and a great stout man, Stephen Kumalo visits him in order to request help in restoring life in the Ndotsheni region. The chief essentially dismisses Kumalo's claims, but later works with James Jarvis when he devotes himself to helping the blacks in Ndotsheni.
The Friend
One of the several major characters in the novel not given a name, he takes Kumalo to the train station when he journeys to Johannesburg, and later is responsible for delivering the milk from the Jarvis estate to the villagers at Ixopo. When Kumalo begins to doubt that he is appropriate for his post, he suggests that his friend take his place as pastor at Ixopo.
The Little Boy
The unnamed son of Gertrude Kumalo, he returns to Ixopo with Stephen Kumalo when his mother decides to leave her family to join a convent. Gertrude arranges for the pregnant girl to take care of her son before they leave Johannesburg.
The Little White Boy
This little white boy from the Jarvis estate visits Stephen Kumalo in Ixopo and asks to learn a few words of Zulu from him. When the little white boy learns about the drought in Ndotsheni and the devastation that it causes, James Jarvis sends milk for Kumalo to distribute among the children of the village.
The Pregnant Girl
A major character in the novel even though she is never given a name, she is pregnant with Absalom Kumalo's child. Msimangu and Kumalo find the pregnant girl in Pimville, and despite Msimangu's skepticism Kumalo decides that he is responsible for her. Kumalo eventually accepts the girl into his family, and she marries Absalom before he is executed and returns to Ixopo with Kumalo.
The White Man from the Reformatory
He is a worker at the reformatory where Absalom was sentenced who helps Msimangu and Kumalo search for Absalom. After they discover that Absalom is a suspect in the murder of Arthur Jarvis, the white man continues to help Kumalo, and even, in a show of solidarity with their plight, exits the courtroom with the blacks, an action that is not taken lightly in South Africa.

Major Themes

Reuniting the Family and Nation
The plot of Cry, the Beloved Country largely concerns the efforts of Stephen Kumalo to reunite his family by bringing back his sister Gertrude and his son Absalom to Ixopo. However, this theme takes on larger dimensions when one considers it in reference to the events that develop throughout the novel. A major theme that Paton develops is that family life in South Africa is broken; he illustrates this primarily through the Kumalo family itself, but then enlarges it to encompass family life in South Africa in general. The novel contains numerous instances in which families are broken apart by migration to Johannesburg, such as the family of Sibeko, and the cumulative effect of this, as Kumalo realizes, is that villages such as Ixopo and the nation of South Africa in general is one of families that need to be reunited. The shift of the plot during the third segment of the novel from reuniting the family in South Africa to reuniting village life in Ndotsheni reflects this theme and enlarges it. Furthermore, Paton shows the theme of reuniting family and nation through the writings of Arthur Jarvis concerning a South African national identity. A major reason that Arthur Jarvis worked for social justice, according to his works, is to unite the nation as one cohesive whole, instead of a nation of various disparate ethnic groups.
Christian Values of Kindness
A major theme that Paton develops throughout Cry, the Beloved Country is the importance of always acting with a sense of kindness. There is a specifically Christian connotation to this value, as demonstrated by the dominant Christian influence of the characters, most specifically the pastors Stephen Kumalo and Theophilus Msimangu. Paton promotes the idea that adhering to this simple sense of kindness is at least a partial solution to the problems in South Africa; it is the reciprocal kindness between Jarvis and Kumalo that causes the bond between them to develop, while it is Kumalo's kindness to the small white boy that is the impetus for Jarvis to work on behalf of South Africa by donating milk to work against the drought and by arranging for the placement of new farming methods in Ndotsheni.
The Tension Between Urban and Rural Society
Alan Paton uses the conflict between urban and rural society and the various qualities they represent as a major theme of the novel. For Paton, rural life is best exemplified by Stephen Kumalo and his personality, while urban life is best exemplified by John Kumalo. Paton clearly places his sympathy on the qualities of rural life: rural society comes to represent family, religion, morality and stability, while the chaotic urban life that Paton describes represents the breaking up of families, hedonism, and atheism. Paton also illustrates this theme through the development of several characters in the novel: the literal move of characters such as the pregnant girl to rural life in Ndotsheni represents a change to a greater moral sense, while the most corrupt character in the novel, John Kumalo, is fully enmeshed in urban Johannesburg society.
References and allusions to the emancipation movement in the United States abound in Cry, the Beloved Country along with figurative comparisons to the quest for freedom. The most obvious use of emancipation imagery regards Arthur Jarvis, who idolized Abraham Lincoln and draws on Lincoln's work to free the slaves during his own quest for social justice. Paton uses this to elucidate the comparison between the antebellum United States and his contemporary South Africa, both societies in which the quest for justice for blacks is paramount. Paton does not use the theme of emancipation merely for its literal context, however; the major question of the novel at its conclusion is when freedom from fear, poverty and bondage will occur.
The Public Significance of Actions
An assumption that Alan Paton makes throughout Cry, the Beloved Country is that numerous actions are significant not in themselves but in what they represent. This is most clearly demonstrated through two separate events, the first in the journey from Alexandra back to Johannesburg and the second at the end of the trial of Absalom Kumalo. In both instances, a white man shows his allegiance to the blacks of South Africa: in the first, a white man carries black men in his car in support of a strike, while in the second the young man from the reformatory exits the courtroom with the blacks. Paton uses this theme in order to show that public declarations of support are an important step in gaining justice in South Africa by demonstrating allegiances and loyalty.

Summary and Analysis of Book I, Chapters 1-6

Book I:
Chapter One:
The first chapter of Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country begins with a description of a road that runs from the village Ixopo into the hill and then leads to Carisbrooke and to the valleys of Africa. The grass is rich and matted, a holy ground that must be kept and guarded for it keeps and guards men.
Alan Paton begins Cry, the Beloved Country with a description of the land surrounding Ixopo, the village where the pastor (and protagonist) Stephen Kumalo lives. Paton establishes this as a rural and isolated area, which is significant to develop the character of Kumalo and his relationship to the larger urban area of Johannesburg where he will soon find himself. The style of this first chapter is grandiose, equating the survival of the soil to no less than the survival of the human race, but this serves an important function, relating the life and health of the country (in both its meanings) to the health of its inhabitants and, by extension, the novel's characters.
Chapter Two:
A small child brings a letter to the umfundisi (pastor) of the church, Stephen Kumalo, who offers the little girl food. This letter is from Johannesburg, and thus may be from either his sister Gertrude, who is twenty-five years younger than he, his brother John, a carpenter, or his only child Absalom, who had gone and never returned. Both Stephen and his wife hesitate when opening the letter, thinking it may be from their son, but it is instead from the Reverend Theophilus Msimangu, who relates to Stephen that Gertrude is very ill and advises him to come to the Mission House in Sophiatown, Johannesburg, to help her. Kumalo sighs, and tells his wife to get him the money intended for Absalom's education at St. Chad's, for now that Absalom has gone to Johannesburg, he will never come back. His wife tells Stephen to take the entire twelve pounds, five shillings and seven pence, just in case.
This chapter serves as the introduction to the protagonist of Cry, the Beloved Country, the pastor Stephen Kumalo, establishing his main conflicts and character traits. From his first encounter with the small child, Paton establishes Kumalo as a kind man yet powerful and respected within his community despite his poverty, as shown by the small savings that he and his wife had scraped together for their son's education. Kumalo is decidedly a man of the country; he and his wife approach Johannesburg as a nearly mythic place where people go and are never seen again. Paton establishes this sense of awe and wonder in the city in order to create a legitimate sense that Kumalo is an outsider once he actually reaches the urban area.
This chapter also introduces one of the major themes of Cry, the Beloved Country: the reassembling of the family. Paton establishes that three members of the Kumalo family are now in Johannesburg, and a major thrust of the novel will involve bringing these disparate family members together. The most important of these characters is the errant son Absalom Kumalo, whose fate will be the major preoccupation of Stephen Kumalo as the story progresses. Paton creates a definite sense that Absalom has been lost to his family, with the mention that he will never come back to Ixopo and the use of his savings for other purposes, as well as the dread with which the Kumalos approach the letter from Johannesburg; however, despite this dread it is important to note that Stephen and his wife have not given up hope for Absalom, and it is this hope that will provide a major motivation for Stephen Kumalo's actions.
The use of the word "umfundisi" is important, for it encompasses both the literal meaning "parson" as applied to Stephen Kumalo, but is also used as a sign of respect. Thus the use of the term to characters other than Kumalo and Reverend Msimangu does not necessarily indicate their occupation, but is used as a title of respect akin to "sir" or "mister."
Chapter Three:
The train takes Stephen Kumalo from the valley into the hills of Carisbrooke, as he worries about the fate of his sister, the cost of the trip, and the possible adversities he might face. He remembers the story of Mpanza, whose son Michael was killed in the street of Johannesburg when he inadvertently stepped into traffic. His most pressing fear, however, concerns his son. Before the train leaves, Kumalo's companion asks him to inquire about the daughter of Sibeko, who has gone to Johannesburg to work for the daughter of the white man uSmith. (the last name is, as expected, actually Smith; the prefix u- serves the same function as Mister in Zulu). Sibeko himself did not ask because he is not a member of their church, but Kumalo insists that he is of their people no matter. Kumalo travels with the fear of a man who lives "in a world not made for him, whose own world is slipping away."
Alan Paton again establishes Johannesburg as a place of great terror and danger in this chapter through both the anecdote about the son of Mpanza and the request by Sibeko for Kumalo to contact his daughter. The first anecdote deals with the literal physical dangers provided by the city, while the second anecdote bolsters earlier assertions that Johannesburg is a place where people from the country go, never to be seen again.
Paton also establishes the character of Stephen Kumalo in greater detail. In dealing with the case of Sibeko, he is both kindly and stern, insisting that Sibeko has no reason not to make his request directly, for they are both from the same people despite having different churches, but he nevertheless admits that he may find some matters more pressing. Kumalo is single-minded in his quest in Johannesburg, despite the multitude of worries. Despite the immediate danger for Gertrude, Kumalo displays a much greater worry concerning the missing Absalom, thus foreshadowing that the main narrative of the novel will involve his son and not his sister.
Perhaps the most important trait of Stephen Kumalo that Paton establishes is that Kumalo is a man who is reaching obsolescence. He is a small rural pastor who does not live in the modern world and is growing to find that the remnants of his world are collapsing around him.
Chapter Four:
The train passes the mines outside of Johannesburg, which Kumalo suspects might be the city, and the signs shift from Kumalo's Zulu language to the Afrikaans language that dominates the city. When the train reaches Johannesburg, Kumalo sees tall buildings and lights that he had never seen before. To Kumalo, the noise is immense, and he prays for Tixo (the name of the Xosa god) to watch over him.
A young man approaches Kumalo and asks him where he wants to go. He tells Kumalo that he must wait in line for the bus, but that he will go to the ticket office to buy the ticket for him. Kumalo gives him the money, but the young man does not return, and an elderly man tells Stephen that he can only buy the ticket on the bus: he has been cheated. Kumalo travels with the elderly man, Mr. Mafolo, and they arrive at the Mission House, where Reverend Msimangu greets him. At the Mission House, for the first time, Stephen Kumalo feels secure in Johannesburg.
This chapter focuses primarily on the descriptions of Johannesburg as an imposing and threatening place. Paton establishes that the city is foreign to Kumalo in many ways, even in language; Kumalo has so little experience with urban areas that he mistakes a mining area for a metropolis. Kumalo is therefore the quintessential outsider when he reaches Johannesburg. This is important in several respects. His outsider status allows Paton to use characters, most importantly Msimangu, to explain the workings and logistics of Johannesburg that would be obvious to an actual citizen of urban South Africa. Also, the novelty of the situation allows Kumalo a greater attention to detail, thus creating opportunities for detailed description of horrors that may seem routine to any modern reader. Lastly, Kumalo's status as an outsider, as this chapter certainly demonstrates, makes the pastor a ready victim for opportunists. Despite his age and experience, Kumalo possesses a demonstrable naïveté that will be significant throughout Cry, the Beloved Country.
The relationship between Reverend Msimangu and Stephen Kumalo will be an important one throughout the novel. Msimangu, like Kumalo, is a deeply religious man, yet his experience in Johannesburg has given him a much different perspective. He will serve essentially as the guide to Stephen Kumalo as he journeys throughout the South African city on his various quests.
Chapter Five:
Msimangu offers Kumalo a room in the house of the elderly Mrs. Lithebe. Before they eat, Kumalo washes his hands and witnesses indoor plumbing for the first time. Kumalo eats at the Mission House along with a priest from England and another priest from Ixopo. Kumalo describes to the priests how people leave from Ixopo, leaving the tribe and the house broken. They also discuss news from the Johannesburg Mail reporting how an elderly couple was robbed and beaten by two natives. After dinner, Msimangu and Kumalo speak privately: Kumalo tells him that Gertrude came to Johannesburg when her husband was recruited for the mines, but when his job was finished he did not return. Msimangu tells Kumalo that Gertrude now has "many husbands" and lives in Claremont, where she makes bootlegged liquor and works as a prostitute. She has been in prison more than once, and now has a child. Kumalo tells Msimangu about Absalom, and Msimangu offers to help him find his son. Msimangu also tells Kumalo that his brother John is no longer a carpenter, but is a great man in politics, despite having no use for the Church. Kumalo explains that the tragedy of South Africa is not that things are broken, but that they are not mended again and cannot be mended: it suited the white man to break the tribe, but it has not suited him to build something in its place.
This chapter provides an interesting commentary on the status of South African politics around the publication of the novel in the late forties. The discussion of current events and politics in South Africa reveals the bias of the white novelist Alan Paton, who places his sympathies squarely with the pastor Stephen Kumalo but nevertheless gives the white ruling class of South Africa nearly total absolution for the decayed state of the African natives who populate the nation. It seems both odd and inconsistent that the great criminal tragedy that the priests lament is the killing of a white couple by natives, despite the marked injustice against Africans during that period, and even Msimangu essentially rejects the notion that the whites have any responsibility for what has occurred in South Africa. He seems to locate both the blame and the solution to the blacks' troubles in themselves, in finding a way to independently rebuild their way of life. Paton can clearly identify and lament the injustice to the natives of South Africa, but this chapter manifests little sense of regret and almost no legitimate sense of responsibility for this injustice.
Once again, Paton details how foreign and backward Kumalo feels in Johannesburg. As this chapter makes clear, Kumalo represents an obsolete and tribal way of life that is crumbling around him. He is part of the remnants of the tribe, now a relic among his contemporaries.
Chapter Six:
Kumalo and Msimangu travel from the Mission House in Sophiatown to Claremont. Msimangu says that he does not like segregation, but laments that the whites and blacks are not apart because blacks are often thrown off the train by young hooligans, and black hooligans do the same. Msimangu points out a woman who is one of the richest black women in Johannesburg because she is a liquor seller. Kumalo visits Gertrude alone, and finds her nearly lifeless. He asks her why she did not write, and she claims she had no money. She says that she was not guilty of the crime for which she was sent to prison, but she helped another woman to get money for her child. Kumalo tells Gertrude that she has shamed him, and he has come to take her away from Johannesburg. Kumalo asks about Absalom, but she says that John's son will know. When Gertrude and Stephen Kumalo return to Mrs. Lithebe's house, he is happy again for the first time in years, for now "the tribe was being rebuilt, the house and the soul restored."
A central metaphor for Cry, the Beloved Country is the relationship between rebuilding the family and the tribe and rebuilding the status of blacks in South Africa. Alan Paton constructs the rescue of Gertrude to conform to this idea: her repentance occurs when she rejects the urban life of Johannesburg, a life that centers around illegally selling liquor and prostitution, in order to return to her home in rural Ixopo. Paton describes Gertrude's life in Johannesburg as an unabashed horror, as the despairing woman degrades herself to no end until her pastor brother can save her. The return of Gertrude, despite being the ostensible rationale for Stephen Kumalo's visit to Johannesburg, is nevertheless secondary to the quest for Absalom. It is quite significant that Stephen quickly turns from the more pressing problem with his sister to question her about his son; Stephen Kumalo is a man obsessed with a singular quest, and this quest will dominate the novel.
Once again a discussion of South African political affairs takes an interesting turn; Msimangu appears to be an apologist for segregation, noting that crime occurs when the two races are put together. Although he first notes that white hooligans attack blacks, he takes pains to include the reverse scenario. This approach is maddeningly even-handed and, in the argument for segregation, seems almost an apologia.

Summary and Analysis of Book I, Chapters 7-12

Chapter Seven:
Gertrude helps Mrs. Lithebe around the house as Stephen plays with the little boy. Msimangu takes Kumalo to see his brother, John, who has grown fat and sits "with his hands on his knees like a chief." John at first does not recognize Stephen, but soon they speak privately. John admits that his wife Esther has left him, and he is living with another woman. John tells Stephen that back in Ndotsheni, he was subject to the chief, but in Johannesburg he has his own business: he may not be free in Johannesburg, but he is at least free of the chief. John claims that it is here in Johannesburg that the new society is being built. John speaks loudly, as if he were giving a speech. Stephen asks about Absalom, but John says that Absalom and his son had a room in Alexandra and were working for a factory, Doornfontein Textiles Company. Msimangu says that the problems between the whites and blacks will only be solved when both groups do not desire power nor money, but only desire the good of their country.
Stephen Kumalo is unsuccessful at Doornfontein, but they learn that Absalom had been friends with a workman, Dhlamini, who tells them that he last heard that Absalom was staying with a Mrs. Ndlela in Sophiatown. They find Mrs. Ndlela, and she gives them a forwarding address, care of Mrs. Mkize in Alexandra. Mrs. Ndlela admits that Absalom left because she and her husband did not like Absalom's friends, but she claims to have seen nothing.
John Kumalo provides a stark contrast to his brother Stephen, representing a different and wholly modern set of values that clash with Stephen's insistence on conservatism and family. John Kumalo rejects any sense of conventional morality, dismissing ideas of fidelity and finding religious beliefs to be antiquated, and more importantly he approaches the changes in South African society as an improvement. In contrast to Stephen, he believes that the tribe is a dangerous and autocratic body that was necessarily destroyed; living under white rule John knows that he is not free, but John believes himself at least subject to a less oppressive authority than a chief. Paton even makes the notable comparison between John and a chief; in essence, John has taken on the authority that he now derides. In his values and opinions John thus comes to represent modernism in Cry, the Beloved Country, the archetype of the successful businessman and politician.
With the exception of John Kumalo's hard realism, the discussion of the political situation in South Africa remains problematic. While John Kumalo's contented state is easily explained, since he holds one of the few positions of power among the blacks of Johannesburg, the political prescriptions given by Msimangu seem deluded and impossible, as he rests his hope for the nation on a communal rejection of self-interest and ambition.
The search for Absalom begins to take a disturbing turn in this chapter, as Kumalo and Msimangu travel from location to location in order to locate him, but find only a different forwarding address at each turn. This creates the sense that Absalom lives an aimless life, while the mention of Mrs. Ndlela's disapproval of his friends serves as a bit of foreshadowing and promotes the idea that Absalom may be involved in unsavory activities that have kept him away from his family.
Chapter Eight:
Msimangu and Kumalo set off to take the bus over to Alexandra, but on the way a man stops them to persuade them not to take the bus, for there is a boycott until the price of bus fare is brought down to four-pence again. This man is the famous Dubula, part of the great trio of black Johannesburg politics: John Kumalo is the voice, Dubula is the heart, Tomlinson is the brains. Msimangu and Kumalo start on the eleven mile walk, adhering to the boycott. Msimangu tells a story about how a white woman knocked on a man's door after she had been assaulted and raped. They reach the house of Mrs. Mkize, who says that Absalom must have been gone a year now. She is obviously afraid, so they leave, but Msimangu tells Kumalo to get a refreshment and he turns back to the house. He tells Mrs. Mkize that he is not from the police, and is there simply to help Kumalo find his son, and he swears that no harm will come of her for telling what she has to tell. Mrs. Mkize admits that Absalom and his friends would often bring back clothes and watches and money in the middle of the night. She tells him to talk to the taxi-driver Hlabeni, who was friends with Absalom. Msimangu and Kumalo find this taxi driver, and pay him eleven shillings to take them back to Johannesburg. Before they go, Msimangu asks Hlabeni about Absalom, and he says that he heard that Absalom went to Orlando and lives amongst the squatters in Shanty Town. On the way back to Johannesburg, Msimangu and Kumalo watch people riding bicycles and walking because they cannot take the bus. They watch a car driven by a white man that the police stop because he is carrying black passengers. The white man confronts the police and dares them to take him to court. Kumalo smiles at this, for such an act is not lightly done, but Msimangu claims that this kindness "beats" him.
This chapter continues the pattern of previous chapters, alternating between details concerning Johannesburg politics and plot points concerning the search for Absalom Kumalo. The boycott of the bus service is perhaps the most significant of these political developments, for Paton locates the major problems with the situation of blacks in South Africa within the economic sphere rather than the sphere of political rights. Yet once again, he finds the plight of whites in South Africa worthy of equal if not greater attention than the condition of blacks. Yet another story about crime in South Africa focuses on a white as a victim of blacks, while the paramount example of heroism in this chapter involves the action of a white man as he defies the police and aids the blacks in their boycott. The reaction of Kumalo to this incident is one of unabashed joy and approval, while Msimangu takes a more ambiguous reaction. Paton gives no interpretation of his cryptic comment "it beats me," allowing for multiple interpretations of Msimangu's opinion over the incident.
The condition of Absalom Kumalo becomes more serious as this chapter progresses, as Kumalo and Msimangu travel from one location to another in search of the missing son, at each point learning more disturbing details concerning Absalom's life. The incident with Mrs. Mkize bolsters earlier comments by Mrs. Ndlela as it becomes more obvious that Absalom is involved in a life of crime. These crimes are serious, as demonstrated by Mrs. Mkize's terrified reaction to questions. Paton demonstrates that Absalom's actions are serious and grave by this reaction; terrible things may happen to her as a result of Absalom's actions, and considering her distant position to Absalom, his crimes must be great indeed.
The dynamic between Stephen Kumalo and Reverend Msimangu becomes fully realized in this chapter, the most full expression of the relationship that the two men have. It is Msimangu who is worldly and diplomatic, able to deal with the terrified Mrs. Mkize, while Stephen Kumalo has a more simplistic and single-minded attitude and cannot consider all of the ramifications of his actions because of his preoccupation with his quest for his son.
Chapter Nine:
Johannesburg is the destination for everyone, white or black, who must search for a job or hide a pregnancy or escape for some reason. Finding housing in Johannesburg is next to impossible, and the waiting list for houses includes several thousand names. In Orlando, a Shanty Town has been built nearly overnight. In this Shanty Town, children suffer from sickness, and Dubula must arrange for doctors. When white men first come to Shanty Town, they do so to take photographs, but when more blacks come to Shanty Town from other areas, white men return out of anger and the police drive the people away.
Alan Paton departs from the quest of Stephen Kumalo in this chapter to describe the conditions of Shanty Town and the way in which it came about. The Shanty Town arises mostly out of the prohibitive housing conditions in Johannesburg as well as the intense poverty of its inhabitants, but the efforts of politicians such as Dubula make life at Shanty Town more palatable. For the first time, Paton departs from his sensitive treatment of the whites in South Africa to indict them for their actions; in blaming the whites for the police action that forces the removal of the Shanty Town population, Paton takes his first step toward a definitive political statement.
Chapter Ten:
While Kumalo waits for Msimangu to take him to Shanty Town, he spends time with Gertrude and her boy. Gertrude cannot speak to Stephen about her problems, but can discuss them with Mrs. Lithebe. Stephen thus turns to the small boy for enjoyment, but even in these moments of satisfaction he remembers his son.
Msimangu takes Kumalo to Shanty Town, and shows him a building that he credits to Dubula's work. He points out nurses that have been trained by white nurses, and mentions the recent enrollment of blacks in the European University of the Witwatersrand for medical school. A nurse points them to Mrs. Hlatshwayos, who tells them that Absalom stayed with her because he had no place to go, but the magistrate sent him to the reformatory. Kumalo and Msimangu thus visit the reformatory, where a white man tells them that Absalom was given leave partially because of good behavior, partially because he got a girl pregnant. Absalom is not married, but everything is arranged for a marriage. He is now in Pimville. The white man takes them to Pimville, and they meet the girl, who admits that Absalom went to Springs on Saturday and has not yet returned. Msimangu warns Kumalo that he can do nothing, but Kumalo says that her child will be his grandchild. Msimangu replies that he does not know that. The white man learns that Absalom has not been at work this week. After they leave, Msimangu apologizes for his behavior toward Kumalo, and Kumalo takes this as an understanding that they should see the girl again.
The search for Absalom Kumalo continues but remains fruitless as Stephen Kumalo and Msimangu go from contact to contact. The extension of this search allows Paton to give a broader view of the conditions in South Africa, as Kumalo receives a full tour of the various areas of Johannesburg. Shanty Town is among the worst of the areas, an impoverished region where the homeless remain, yet Paton steps back from the political critique that marked the previous chapter and focuses on the few improvements in Shanty Town. Instead of dwelling on the poverty of the region, Paton details the new training of black nurses and the enrollment of blacks in European medical schools and also lauds Dubula for effecting the construction of a new building in the region.
The white worker at the reformatory is a more significant character in the novel than his lack of a name might imply. He is representative of the white characters that Kumalo meets on his journeys through Johannesburg; kind, helpful and respectful toward Kumalo, and even approaching courage at a later point in the novel. This is important because it demonstrates Paton's biased view of South Africa; he details the poverty and the problems of the nation, but virtually ignores the racism that is one of the causes of these problems.
The meeting between Kumalo, Msimangu and the girl serves to demonstrate both Kumalo's unerring kindness and sense of duty and bolster Msimangu's greater skepticism. Kumalo immediately takes responsibility for the girl, even though he cannot be sure that she is pregnant with Absalom's child, while Msimangu suggests that Kumalo operate with a great degree of doubt. This marks the great contrast between the rural pastor and the urban clergyman.
The news concerning Absalom continues to foreshadow a disastrous fate for the errant son. While Absalom acted well at the reformatory, the very fact that he was sentenced to a reformatory does not bode well for him, while the fact that he has been missing suggest the existence of problems that will drive the plot of the second stage of the novel.
Chapter Eleven:
Msimangu tells Kumalo that the man at the reformatory will do a better search for Absalom than he can, and that he must go to Ezenzeleni, the place of the blind, to hold a service for them, but he will return two days later. At dinner at the Mission House, there is news of another murder: a well-known city engineer was shot, supposedly by natives. The murder victim, Arthur Jarvis, was a courageous young man according to one priest: he was the President of the African Boys' Club, and the son of James Jarvis of Carisbrooke. Arthur Jarvis was renowned for his interest in social problems and for his efforts for the welfare of the non-European sections of the community.
The murder of Arthur Jarvis is the central issue of this chapter, and proves to be the turning point of the novel. The significance of this event

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