Cry the beloved country summary and analysis



Cry the beloved country summary and analysis


The following texts are the property of their respective authors and we thank them for giving us the opportunity to share for free to students, teachers and users of the Web their texts will used only for illustrative educational and scientific purposes only.



The information of medicine and health contained in the site are of a general nature and purpose which is purely informative and for this reason may not replace in any case, the council of a doctor or a qualified entity legally to the profession.



Cry the beloved country summary and analysis









Cry, the Beloved Country

Study Guide

Chapters 1-20

Period 8

Table of Contents:


Chapter 1                                    Page 3

Chapter 2                                    Page 4

Chapter 3                                    Page 6

Chapter 4                                    Page 7

Chapter 5                                    Page 8

Chapter 6                                    Page 10

Chapter 7                                    Page 11

Chapter 8                                    Page14

Chapter 9                                    Page 16

Chapter 10                                  Page 17

Chapter 11                                  Page18

Chapter 12                                  Page 19

Chapter 13                                  Page 21

Chapter 14                                  Page 23

Chapter 15                                  Page 25

Chapter 16                                  Page 26

Chapter 17                                  Page 27

Chapter 18                                  Page 28

Chapter 19                                  Page29

Chapter 20                                  Page 30
Chapter One



The hillside and valley is described to the reader at great length.





Literary Techniques:

  • Atmosphere
  • Imagery
  • Diction
  • Repetition
  • Religious imagery
  • Run-ons
  • Opposing images
  • Personification




1. There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills.  These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.  The road climbs seven miles into them, to Carisbrooke; and from there, if there is no mist, you look down on one of the fairest valleys of Africa.  Narrator


Note: A peaceful image is created by the usage of language.


2.  Stand unshod upon it, for the ground is holy, being eve as it came from the Creator.  Keep it, guard it, care for it, for it keeps men, guards men, cares for men.  Destroy it and man is destroyed.  Narrator


Note: Imagery and religious imagery


3.  The great red hills stand desolate, and the earth has been torn away like flesh….the dead streams come to life, full of the red blood of the earth.  Narrator


Note:  personification and opposite image presented from previous one

Chapter Two



We are introduced to the Reverend Stephen Kumalo when a young girl brings a letter from “the white man.”  Stephen and his wife are afraid to open it, fearing it brings news of their son Absalom; the letter, in fact, is notice that his sister in Johannesburg is ill.



Stephen Kumalo:  Our protagonist.  A pastor who takes his relationship with God and the state of South Africa very seriously. He sees that the poverty, injustice, and lack of morality in his country is threatening to become irreversible. He loves his beautiful land,  and he worries over what will happen to it. He also loves its people-both black and white. Though he recognizes that white people are responsible for some of South Africa's problems, he does not hate them as a group. More than anything, he loves his own family. He berates himself for his own failings: at times he is jealous, selfish, or angry, and he hates himself for it. But his belief in the goodness of God, and the individual kindness he encounters, renew his spirit. He is a kind and gentle man who is repeatedly challenged by the cruelty and brutality of the world around him.

Mrs. Kumalo:  Stephen's wife. She is never named, and this reveals some of her role in the story. She is a kind, understanding, long-suffering woman, but she has little identity apart from her husband. She is a good wife: she takes care of her husband, loves her son desperately, and wants to do right in the world. She, like her husband, knows that South Africa is largely a destroyed country, and sees that her village is crumbling. Yet unlike Stephen's, her thoughts are never revealed to the reader. She merely grieves over these things quietly.

Important Words:


“the mother”


Important Places:



Ideas explored in this chapter:

Respect for one in a position of (religious) authority

Relationship between husband and wife

The disintegration of the family/tribe


Themes presented:

There is an ever-present human fear of the unknown.

Life is a journey, not a destination.


Literary Techniques:

  • Diction
  • Repetition
  • Run-ons



1.  He turned the letter over, but there was nothing to show from whom it came….She took the letter and she felt it.  But here was nothing in the touch of it to tell from whom it might be.  Narrator


Note:  Implied differences between man and woman.


2.  How we desire such a letter, and when it comes, we fear to open it.  Gertrude


Note:  Speaks to all humankind; fear


3.  He was reluctant to open it, for once such a thing is opened, it cannot be shut again.  Narrator


Note:  Simple language reveals a larger truth.


4.  You have said it, he said.  It is said now.  This money which was saved for that purpose will never be used for it.  You have opened a door, and because you have opened it, we must go through.  Stephen to Gertrude


5.  When people go to Johannesburg, they do not come back.  Gertrude to Stephen


6.  The go to Johannesburg, and there they are lost, and no one hears of them at all.  Stephen to Gertrude


7.  Then she sat down at his table, and put her head on it, and was silent, with the patient suffering of black women, with the suffering of oxen, with the suffering of any that are mute.  Narrator about Gertrude


Chapter 3


Filled in by Ms. Crow (without time to add much….)

Summary:  Kumalo waits for the train to Johannesburg; he is worried about how much his sister's sickness cost, the city of Johannesburg, etc.  He tells of the child killed by the lorry.  He speaks so that others may hear him (as if he has done this before).  It is one of the few times that we see him NOT behaving piously humble.  The passengers are described, and it is apparent that the European influence is taking hold of then natives.


Is he not of our church? 

The humble man reached in his pocket for his sacred book, and began to read. It was this world alone that was certain.

Ideas:  Redemption, Humility, Fear
Chapter 4                                                                                                  Catherine Jansch



Kumalo travels in a train through rural villages and boards a train for Johannesburg.  People on the train tell Kumalo about the mines and how technology is used.  Kumalo asks if they pass Johannesburg and they laugh at him.  They arrive at Johannesburg and Kumalo cannot believe its size and confusion.  He is astonished by stoplights and other technologies and feels tired and nervous.  A man guides him across a street and offers to purchase tickets for him so Kumalo will not lose his place in line.  The man fooled him and took his money.  Mr. Mafolo tells him the truth and they board the bus together toward the mission house.  There, Kumalo meets Reverend Msimangu.



 - “Railway-lines, railway-lines, it is a wonder.  To the left, to the right, so many that he cannot count.  A train rushes past them, with a sudden roaring of sound that makes him jump in his seat.” (p. 47) Note: Confusion of city life. 

 - “From Ixopo the toy train climbs up into other hills, the green rolling hills of Lufafa, Eastwolds, Donnybrook.  From Donnybrook the broad-gauge runs to the great valley of the Umkomaas.  Here the tribes live, and the soil is sick, almost beyond healing.” (p. 45)

Note: Beauty of land. 

 - “His heart beats like that of a child, there is nothing to do or think to stop it.  Tixo, watch over me, he says to himself.  Tixo, watch over me.” (p. 48) Note: Fear and childishness


New Characters:

-Boy who steals Kumalo’s money

-Reverend Msimangu – “young confident man”

-Mr. Mafolo – brings Kumalo safely to Msimangu

Important Words:

-Afrikaans – “a language that he had never yet heard spoken”

-Fire-sticks – dynamite

Important Places:


-Mission House


Ideas Explored:

-Naivety of village people

-Beauty of land contrast with city

-Church is one thing that saves Kumalo

Themes Expressed:

-Confusion and fast pace of city

-Technology and the west

Literary Techniques:

-Choppy sentences vs. smooth language



Chapter 5



The chapter begins with Msimangu informing Kumalo of his accommodations, Mrs. Lethebe’s modest home. Msimangu then reveals to Kumalo what sort of person his sister has become. The next day Kumalo meets with Mrs. Lethebe.




Mrs. Lethebe: A kind woman who is honored to host Kumalo. She does not play a large role in chapter five, but her willingness towards the Church and her hospitality represents the goodness that Kumalo wishes was in all people.


Although few new characters are introduced in this chapter, one is given a new perspective on a couple of the characters. We learn of the weakness of Gertrude and observe the frankness of Msimangu.


Important Words:

fear (of course)






Important Places:





Literary Techniques:

  • Diction
  • Repetition
  • Run-ons
  • Religious imagery




1. “It would have frightened you if you had not heard of such things before.” (51)


Note: Possible fear shown


2. “how the tribe was broken, and the house broken, and the man broken;” (52)


Note: this phrase is echoed at the end of the sixth chapter except the three things are restored


3. “My brother, I have of course my work to do, but so long as you are here, my hands are yours.” (55)


Note: Due to his incredible selflessness Msimangu values Kumalo’s needs over his own


4. “It suited the white man to break the tribe, he continued gravely. But it has not suited him to build something in the place of what is broken.” (56)


Ellen Graham

Cry the Beloved Country

Chapter 6



Msimangu accompanies Kumalo to the neighboring slums of Claremont, where Gertrude lives. When Kumalo finds Gertrude he realizes that she turned into a person that “shamed them”. Kumalo tells Gertrude that she has come to take her back to the tribe, hearing this she sobs and states that she wanted to leave Johannesburg but she wasn’t a good enough person. Kumalo forgives her and they pray together. After prayer, Kumalo inquires about his son and the only information that she can give to him is that Kumalo’s son spent time with their brother John’s son. Kumalo gathers up Gertrude and her son and take them back to Mrs. Lithebe’s.



Gertrude Kumalo - Stephen Kumalo’s sister and the original reason for his trip to Johannesburg. Gertrude, twenty-five years younger than Kumalo and living in Johannesburg, is easily influenced. We see that although she has a son, she lacks maternal characteristics.



Claremont: slums, where Gertrude lives. The streets have beautiful names but they are filthy. This area is inhabited with wrong doers.



The Injustice faced by Blacks

            The reason that Gertrude moved to Johannesburg was to find her husband that had        to leave the tribe to work in the city. Her husband had to leave due to the fact that      the land on which they lived was unable to be cultivated and land would be too      expensive to repay due to the fact that it was heavily taxed by the whites. Because          of the discrimination of blacks by whites, job rights and pay for Africans was      significantly lower than that of whites, which led to crime (just like with         Gertrude.)



“It shall be fetched” à Gertrude refers to her son as it, this underlines the fact that she cannot care for him and lacks the maternal personality.


“It is a pity, says Msimangu. I am not a man for segregation, but it is a pity that we are not apart.” à Msimangu is saying that along he does not believe that blacks and whites should be separated. However, due to the fact that blacks are persecuted by whites, if they were separated blacks would be better off.



Natalie Zhao


Chapter 7



Kumalo buys Gertrude a new red dress and a white turban for her head, outfitting the boy with a new shirt, pair of pants, and a jersey. Mrs. Lithebe has taken them in, and Gertrude helps around the house. Kumalo is writing a letter to his wife of the train ride to Johannesburg, as well as the man that stole from him, Gertrude and her repentance, as well as his new nephew.

Msimangu arrives, and takes Kumalo to visit the shop of John, his brother. John’s wife Esther has left him, and he has taken on a mistress. He tells of how his living in Johannesburg has changed him, and how he had an “experience” that has changed his view on the world. He justifies his resolve to stay in Johannesburg because back home, he is a “nobody”, and must obey another man who plays puppet to yet another man. Yet in Johannesburg, he is free to make his own decisions, and his status is one of relevant importance, and people listen to him, are influenced by him, and he has good income. He acknowledges the changes taking place, saying that “something is happening here”.

John is embittered towards the church, for they talk of condemning riches and corruption, yet the bishop himself is wealthy, and lives luxuriously. John speaks of the mines, and how for all of the work of the miners, when gold is discovered, the mine owners benefit, and the workers see no return at all—no increased salary, better living conditions, improved hospitals.

Kumalo is disturbed by the change he sees in John, as well as his passionate words, yet what upsets him the most is that these words are true. Finally, they ask for the wherabouts of Absalom, and John says that he does not know where either of them are, but remembers that they had been working for a factory in Alexandra, the Doornfontein Textiles Company.

Upon reaching Doornfontein, they were told that Absalom had left twelve months ago, and that the last they had heard, he was staying with Mrs. Ndlela of Sophiatown. When they sought her out, she told them that he had left a while back, but did send a letter asking about his possessions, addressed from Mrs. Mkize of Alexandra. Msimangu notices the expression on Mrs. Ndlela’s face, and asks why she felt pity for Kumalo, to which she responds that both herself and her husband did not like the company that Absalom kept, and cites this as the reason for his departure.




Kumalo—in the beginning of the chapter, Kumalo has taken time out of his day to write to his wife and report back on his finding Gertrude and her son. He laments that the ten pounds will have to be spent sooner or later, and that the stove she wanted, as well as his clerical collars that a parson should have, would not be gotten anytime soon. He values family, and this is reflected in his clear discomfort and pain over the man that John has become, as well as the alienation he feels and inability to relate to John, the politician, who has replaced John, his brother.

            Kumalo is also naïve; on many occasions, he must rely on Msimangu to aide him, as well as the fact that he does not pick up on little nuances in conversation, such as Mrs. Ndlela’s facial expression.


Msimangu—He serves as the bridge between Kumalo and Johannesburg, and sees things with great clarity. Yet he has many strong viewpoints which have a tendency to show themselves at unfortunate times, such as his retort to John’s flippancy over his mistress. 


John Kumalo­—John has broken off relations with his families—he does not write letters, separated from his wife, and has taken on a mistress. Another note of his alienation is the fact that he is more comfortable expressing himself in English than his native tongue. While not cold and disconnected with his brother, he addresses him impersonally, and his speech is one of grand eloquence, as if speaking to an audience, not his own brother. Msimangu tells Kumalo that John is one of the three most powerful men in South Africa, yet he does not have the courage to speak out about his passions, and he is not willing to sacrifice his lofty position to truly initiate change. He is weak, and many of the flaws that he criticizes can be found in his own self.


Absalom—while we have not yet met Kumalo’s son, it is evident by his frequent departure from one workplace and shelter to the next that his life is not one of great stability and predictability. Mrs. Ndlela’s unwillingness to speak her true feelings about him in front of Kumalo also adds to the feeling of foreboding, for only when prompted by Msimangu does she finally reveal that Absalom’s character is not one of great virtue, and his friends are a sort that cause discomfort and suspicion. Clearly, Absalom has gotten in with “the wrong crowd”, and the fact that there is little trace of his whereabouts does not add to one’s confidence.



“Down in Ndotsheni I am nobody, even as you are nobody, my brother. I am subject to the chief, who is an ignorant man. I must salute him and bow to him, but he is an uneducated man. Here…I am a man of some importance, of influence.” John, reflects his change and dissatisfaction.


“Every factory, every theatre, every beautiful house, they are all built by us. And what does a chief know about that? But here in Johannesburg they know.” John, on the injustice of the system of the black labor force.


“They say he speaks like a bull, and growls in his throat like a lion, and could make men mad if he would. But for that they say he has not enough courage, for he would surely be sent to prison.” Msimangu, on John and his talent as a speaker, yet lack of courage to inflect any real change due to his fear of the consequences of sacrifice.


“Because the white man has power, we too want power, but when a black man gets power, when he gets money, he is a great man if he is not corrupted…he seeks power and money to put right what is wrong, and when he gets them, why, he enjoys the power and the money…some of us think when we have power, we shall revenge ourselves on the white man who has had power, and because our desire is corrupt, we are corrupted, and the power has no heart in it.” Msimangu, reflecting on why change is hard-pressed—the blacks are ambitious and talk of the great changes they will bring about, yet when they get a taste of luxury, they grow to like it, to crave it, and instead of helping the every day man against the rich oppressors, they become one of the rich oppressors.


“There is only one thing that has power completely, and that is love...when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power. I see only one hope for our countrty, 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.” Msimangu, only equality and aim for a common cause can bring together the two sides.


“I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find that we are turned to hating.” Msimangu, foreshadows the problems to come, as well as the problems that have already been developing.


“He is an umfundisi.” Mrs. Ndlela, in answering Msimangu’s question of why she looked at Kumalo with pity, this is her first response. Shows the importance of his status.


Susannah Piersol
Cry, The Beloved Country
Chapter 8 Study Guide


Kumalo and Msimangu set off by foot to go to Alexandra, after they are persuaded to not ride the bus since the prices are so high for the bus fare.  They get to Alexandra and Msimangu found out from Mrs. Mikize that Kumalo’s son left about a year ago but he was involved in stealing.  They then discovered from the taxi driver that Kumalo was last heard of living in Orlando with the many squattors.  The taxi driver is on his way taking Msimangu and Kumalo to Orlando.


New Characters:


Dubula - The man who persuades Kumalo and Msimangu to walk instead of ride the bus.  When describing him Msimangu says, “That is the famous Dubula...A friend of your brother John.  But they say...that Tomlinson has the brains and your brother the voice, but that this has the heart.  He is the one the Government is afraid of, because he himself is not afraid. He seeks nothing for himself. They say he has given up his own work to do this picketing of the buses, and his wife pickets the other bus ranks at Alexandra.” (p.74) He is a minor minor character but still important


Important Quotes


– Every bus is the right bus....all of these buses lead to Johannesburg. You need not fear to take the wrong bust here. (Msimangu)


– I am willing. You understand I am anxious, my friend.  This Johannesburg- it is no place for a boy to be alone. (Kumalo talking about walking to Alexandra>>he shows fear for his boy but at this point he will not let that get in the way to finding out where he is.)


– Take me to court, he said. He glared at Kumalo and hit himself again across the chest.  Take me to court. (Msimangu furious that the whites want to take the whites that are helping the blacks to court)


– That man has a silver tongue. (Kumalo talking about Dubula who persuaded them to walk instead of ride the bus)


– Johannesburg is a place of wonders (Kumalo, important because it is the first time Kumalo is experiencing things like strikes)




FEAR is everywhere   Repetition


question of  honesty>>seen a lot in this chapter.  Mrs. Mkize swearing on the bible that she is telling the truth, at first she doesn’t tell the whole truth out of FEAR


Whites versus blacks>>The bus strike is key in this chapter because it shows how unfair the blacks were treated and that the blacks were walking 11 miles to work each day and 11 miles home because they knew how important it was if they wanted changes.


Whites working with blacks>>Kumalo is amazed when he sees the whites helping the blacks, driving the blacks back home after work so they do not have to walk.  He cannot believe the kindness of some of the whites.  However some whites want to take the whites that are helping to court. There is also a story told about a white women finding safety from a black family after she has been abused by a white man.


Persuasion/guilt>> I don’t know if you could really call this a theme I just recognized it twice in this chapter.  First Msimangu and Kumalo are persuaded into walking instead of riding the bus out of guilt.  They are told that crippled, elderly, and sick decided to walk so they must too.  Also Mrs. Mkize is persuaded to tell what she knew on the bible, so if she did not she would feel religious guilt.

Angela Wang

Chapter 9



            The author focuses on South Africa’s social landscape by using a series of anonymous voices to describe Shanty Town. By using these repetitive dialogues, the minor story emphasizes the desperation of the people for settlement. Because of the masses coming to Alexandra, Sophitown, and Orlando, there is little housing available, so people are crammed into rooms with little privacy. In the middle of the night, a child burns with a fever and later dies before the doctor arrives. This emphasizes the struggle of loss in the African society and creates a stepping-stone in future fallouts of African life in the book.



1) “ All roads lead to Johannesburg. If you are white or if you are black they lead to Johannesburg. If 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.”


Note: Johannesburg defined as central place, a place for anyone.


2) “Shanty Town is up overnight.”


Note: Repetition


3)  “Quietly my child, there is a lovely valley where you were born. The water sings over the stones, and the wind cools you. The cattle come down to the river, they stand there under the trees.”


Note: Said by the mother with the sick child. Emphasizes abandonment of homeland for peace.


4) “Oh child of my womb and fruit of my desire, it was pleasure to hold the small cheeks in the hands, it was pleasure to feel the tiny clutching of the fingers, it was pleasure to feel the little mouth tugging at the breast. Such is the nature of woman. Such is the lot of women, to carry, to bear, to watch, and to lose.”


Note: Struggle for loss in African society.


Key Ideas:


Struggle of loss

Abandonment of peace (home)


Chapter 10 :  Missing

Filled in by 6th period student


Summary:  This chapter begins with Kumalo expressing his love for the child of Gertrude.  It then continues the search for Absalom through Shanty Town, to the reformatory, and finally to the girl pregnant with Kumalo’s grandson.  The chapter ends with Msimangu discussing with Kumalo where to go from the dead end they have run into.



  • Love for children
  • Unity of races working together – in Shanty Town with the white people’s cooperation in training nurses
  • Courage/fear
  • Changing behavior – reformatory


Important Points:

            The beginning of the chapter introduces an interesting relationship between Kumalo and his sister’s son.  Having lost his own son, Kumalo begins to act as though the child were his own.  The child provides a release from all the pressure and fear from the search for his own son.  It is a relation that can be somewhat difficult to understand, but one I believe will be important.


Chapter 11    (pg 102-105)                                                                                    

J.H.  Vivadelli


Summary:  Kumalo rests for a while until Msimangu gets back from his visit to the colony for the blind.  Kumalo and Msimangu are telling stories when another priest, Father Vincent comes and tells them the bad news.  He shows them a newspaper showing that Arthur Jarvis, a white advocate of black rights, was shot after knocking out his servant.  They hope that his servant will be able to give information as to who killed Jarvis.  He was killed while writing an article on The Truth About Native Crime.  At the end of the chapter, Kumalo is hit with a sudden fear that maybe Absalom might have killed Jarvis.





Father Vincent





Literary Techniques:

Irony   à killed while writing statement on native crime

            à it is possible a black person killed him, got killed by those who he is defending



“Cry for the broken tribe, for the law and the custom that is gone.  Aye, and cry aloud for the man who is dead, for the women and children bereaved.  Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end.”

-demonstration of hate and cruelty in the world


“This thing, he said. This thing. Here in my heart there is nothing but fear.  Fear, fear, fear.”

-the fear exhibited throughout the novel



Cry, the Beloved Country – Chapter 12

K. Garrahan



            A debate takes place between Mr. de Villiers, Mr. McLaren, Mr. Chairman, and Mr. Scott arguing the two sides of the people in Johannesburg; black and white, poor and rich. They deliberate about the children of the city and about the police of Johannesburg and about the living conditions of blacks vs. whites. Then the issues of  possibly splitting up Africa and separating the blacks and whites, the separation of church and state, and the white man’s insatiable hunger for power are discussed.

            In the second part of the chapter, Msimangu finds out about the police being involved in the search for Absalom, and suspense grows as the search for him continues. They retrace the steps that they had previously followed, trying to find out what information everyone gave to the police.



            Mr. McLaren: Presents the side of the black people, saying that crime will not end and the industry will not prosper until the people are inspired and have something to work towards. The way to make a more law-abiding society is to increase the police forces.

            Mr. de Villiers: Takes the same stand as Mr. Mclaren, but backs up arguments with evidence and statistics. He declares that the government should pay for schooling of the children, and that it will not produce smarter criminals.

            Mr. Scott: Presents the opposite view, in the white man’s favor.




People cannot enjoy the land when they live in constant fear

Separation of black and white races

Sufficient police force to protect natives

Schooling for natives and problems that arise from current education system


Literary Techniques:

Diction (fast)








  1. I say we shall always have native crime to fear until the native people of this country have worthy purposes to inspire them and worthy goals to work for. For it is only because they see neither purpose nor goal that they turn to drink and crime and prostitution.
  2. For we fear not only the loss of our possessions, but the loss of our superiority and the loss of our whiteness. Some say it is true that crime is bad, but would this not be worse? Is it not better to hold what we have, and to pay the price of it with fear?
  3. 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.
  4. Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply....For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.

Cry The Beloved Country Study Guide: Chapter 13



            Msimangu has to preach at a place for the blind so he takes Kumalo with him.  Kumalo is beginning to drown in the pain and fear that were unlocked by his son and his actions.  After sitting for hours dwelling on the pain and desperation, Kumalo goes to hear Msimangu speak.  Msimangu’s touching and inspiring words “heal” Kumalo so that he can come to terms with the situation at hand and make amends.



  1. Introduced to the European Superintendent.


Important Places:

  1. Ezenzeleni: This is the place where Kumalo is at his worst and at one of his best moments.  He is struggling with his son’s behavior and it seems as though he will never rise from the depression and then he listens to Msimangu and he is uplifted to the point where he feels “healed.”   In this place, the reader experiences the extremes of Kumalo and life in general.


Important Words:

  • Kumalo referring to Msimangu as “father” and Msimangu referring to Kumalo as “brother” (interesting considering Kumalo is the elder)
    • Shows the respect and gratefulness present in their relationship
    • Also reinforces the superiority and religious factors of the relationship
  • Kumalo referring to his son as a “vagabond”
    • Shows the disgrace and shame
    • Generalizes the Johannesburg youth into a new and almost evil category
    • New manifestation of the movement from village to Johannesburg; moral to criminal life


Themes presented:

  • Fear is an all-encompassing sickness
  • Faith is the guide the sorrow and heartache
  • Words have the power to heal


Literary Techniques:

  • Repetition: Bottom of page 120 (last three sentences) repeats from chapter one
    • Pg 122 and 123 “And the voice rose, and the Zulu tongue was lifted and transfigured, and the man too was lifted . . .”
  • Imagery: Bottom of page 121: when speaking of reds and blues and magic
    • Page 122: speaking of the voice of gold
    • Lots of religious imagery
  • Run Ons: Throughout → structure and flow
  • Rhetorical Questions: used to emphasize a point and make the reader connect with and think about the subject matter
    • Page 119: to show the desperation, fear, and helplessness
    • Same for page 120
    • Page 123: reinforce religion


Ideas explored:

  • Man is evil
  • Evil is always present
  • The new generation and their behaviors are beyond repair
  • Religion and faith consols people but doesn’t solve their problems or make them go away


Important Quotations:

    1. “Yet, he comforted himself, that was Johannesburg”- Kumalo (shows just how beyond repair Johannesburg is.) pg 119
    2. “For a moment he was caught up in a vision, as man so often is when he sits in a place of ashes and destruction.” –Kumalo (shows how even the most dedicated men can get swept up by emotion and that everyone is a man in the end no matter who says otherwise) pg 120
    3. “Yes, it was true what Msimangu had said.  Why fear the one thing in a great city when there were thousands upon thousands of people?  His son had gone astray in the great city, where so many others had gone astray before him, and where many others would go astray after him, until there was found some great secret that as yet no man had discovered.”-Kumalo (shows that Kumalo is finally realizing that the world is not inherently good and that despite religion there is evil in it.)
    4. “Who gives, at this hour, a friend to make darkness light before me?  Who gives, at this hour, wisdom to one so young, to comfort one so old?  Who gives me compassion for a girl my son has left?” –Kumalo (reinforces religion but suggests an uncertainty in it)
    5. “And how fools listen to him, silent, enrapt, sighing when he is done, feeding their empty bellies on his empty words.”-Narrator (reinforces the previous mentioned idea that religion is just words and not actions, and therefore can’t change the world, only comfort those oblivious to the obvious)

Chapter 14 Study Review

K. Huffer



            After returning from Ezenzeleni, Kumalo is at Mrs. Lithebe’s house when he sees Msimangu and the young white man walking towards the house. He learns from them that his son has been arrested for shooting and killing a white man. (This was the story from the newspaper.) One of the other two men with him was the son of Kumalo’s brother, John. Kumalo finds his brother and they go with the young white man to the prison to see their sons. Kumalo talks to Absalom. John reveals that he will try to get a lawyer to try to prove that his son had nothing to do with the crime. The young white man leaves Kumalo at the prison.


New Characters:


Absalom: Stephen Kumalo’s son that left for Johannesburg and never wrote. Kumalo has been searching for him ever since he found Gertrude.


Important Places:


  • The shop- shows the differences between Stephen and his brother, John


  • the prison- where both Stephen and John’s sons are being held for breaking into a white man’s house and then shooting him



  1. Finally finding the thing you are looking for, but being afraid to face it
  2. Honesty




  1. The relationships between father and son
  2. The relationships between brother and brother


Literary Techniques:


  1. Repetition


Important Quotations:


Pg. 127: And then he went into the shop. Yes, the bull voice was there, loud and confident. His brother John was sitting there on a chair talking to two other men, sitting there like a chief. His brother he did not recognize, for the light from the street was on the back of the visitor.


Note: This shows how Kumalo was still trying to find parts of his old tribe in the city of Johannesburg. It also shows how his brother was a very important person in the city.


Pg. 131: -And this is your repayment my child?

            And this again could not be answered. The young white man comes over, for he knows that this does nothing, goes nowhere. Perhaps he does not like to see these two torturing each other.


Note: This shows the problems that Kumalo and Absalom had talking with each other after so much time had passed and after Absalom was arrested.

Chapter 15: Cry, the Beloved Country


Summary: In this chapter, Kumalo and the young white man try to get a lawyer for Absalom, not only for defending him, but also to see if he can marry. They go to Father Vincent at the Mission House. Father Vincent convinces Kumalo that the sorrow he is feeling is better than the fear he felt before.




  • “Kumalo struggled within himself. For it is thus with a black man, who has learned to be humble and who yet desires to be something that is himself.”                    ~Narrator  ~Note: shows Kumalo’s (and black people as a whole) character


  • “…then he said, ‘Msimangu said to me, ‘why fear this one thing in a city where there thousands upon thousands of people?’ That comforted me,’ he said. And the way in which he said, that comforted me, was to Father Vincent so unendurable, that he said there rigid…” 

~Kumalo/Narrator  ~Note: contrast of Kumalo’s comfort and Vincent’s discomfort, also the repetition of Msimangu’s statement                                                           


  • “‘Sorrow is better than fear,’ said Father Vincent doggedly. ‘Fear is a journey, a terrible journey, but sorrow is at least an arriving.’ ‘And where have I arrived?’ asked Kumalo. ‘When the storm threatens, a man is afraid for his house,’ said Father Vincent. ‘But when the house is destroyed, there is something to do. About a storm he can do nothing, but he can rebuild a house.’”                                                      ~Father Vincent/Kumalo  ~Note: discussion of a journey, rebuilding house/life


  • “‘And do not pray for yourself, and do not pray to understand the ways of God. For they are secret. Who knows what life is, for life is a secret. And why you have compassion for a girl, when you yourself find no compassion, that is a secret. And why you go on, when it would seem better to die, that is a secret. Do not pray and think about these things now, there will be other times.’”                                   ~Father Vincent  ~Note: religious (praying), acknowledge some things secret


  • “‘And give thanks where you can give thanks. For there is nothing better. Is there not your wife, and Mrs. Lithebe, and Msimangu, and this young man at the reformatory?’”                                                                                                      ~Father Vincent  ~Note: acknowledge good things among the bad

Chapter 16 Outline

By Chase Kiddy




  • Kumalo goes to see his son’s girlfriend to inform her of the murder he committed
  • The girl called Kumalo ‘umfundsi’ several times
  • Delivere news of son’s imprisonment
  • The girl can read a little, and she cries and swears as she hears of her boyfriends’ fate
  • Kumalo is disappointed in the girl’s eagerness to remarry so soon after the death of his son (and her boyfriend)
  • She is from an Episcopal church- not Kumalo’s
  • Girl makes a promise to Kumalo to ‘never repent,’ and Kumalo readies her belongings to move and promises to arrange a place for her to move to keep her away from the media circle surrounding the murder committed


Themes                                                                                                            Characters


-Fear                                                                                                                   -Kumalo

-Loyalty                                                                                         -Absalom’s girlfriend




“He chose this time so that Msimangu would not be able to accompany him, not because he was offended, but because he felt he could do it better alone.” (pg 143)


“She smiled at him uncertainly, with something that was fear, and something that was child-like and welcoming.” (pg 143)


“Au!  The exclamation burst from her.  She put her hands over her face.  And Kumalo himself could not continue, for the words were like knives, cutting into a wound that was still new and open.  She sat down on a box, and looked at the floor, and the tears started to run slowly down her cheeks.” (pg 144)


“I can be willing.” (pg 144)


“-Is it truly your wish to marry him?

-It is truly my wish, umfundsi.”




Chapter 17:  Missing

(Filled in by Ms. Crow)


Mrs. Lithebe is happy to have the priest (again, importance of the religious authority figure) but she will not lease her rooms to strangers for money.  Mrs. L thinks about the suffering and kindness of Kumalo. She cautions th girl; Kumalo goes again to see his son. Matthew and the other boy deny their involvement; Kumalo wants him to be able to marry the girl. Stephen wants his son to be well aware of his stupidty.

Mr. Carmichael comes to see them. He tells them that he is taking the case pro deo. He believes that Absalom shot Arthur out of fear, not meaning to kill him. He will try to convince the judge that the other boys were there as well. In private, Kumalo asks what the case will cost. When he learns that pro deo means that it will cost nothing, he is in awe of the unbelievable kindness of Mr. Carmichael, a white man.


“Then—whatever may happen—she will go with me to Ndotsheni, and bear her child there in a clean and decent home.”

"Why else do we live?"

“I am content, she said.  I desire to be nowhere but where I am.  I desire no father but the umfundisi.  I desire nothing that is not here.”  (notice the difference to Gertrude:  foil?)

"Old man, leave him alone. You lead him so far and then you spring upon him."

Ideas:  Kindness:  Kumalo, who has learned to expect little from people, especially white people, is awestruck at the kindness of Mr. Carmichael. This is one of his first encounters with kindness that comes from a desire for justice: Mr. Carmichael is not being kind because he likes Kumalo-he

does not even know him-he is being kind because he believes it is the right thing to do.


Actions can be very different from desires:  Gertrude speaks “too freely” with men (desire) but she knows that Mrs. L is strict and so she is “obedient” (act).  We’ve seen this with her before….



Chapter 18:  Missing

Filled in by 6th period student



            Book II opens in an imagery filled description of the land like that of Book I. We are introduced to James Jarvis in his home of High Place in the midst of a drought as he is overseeing the plough of his desiccated fields. He sees a car coming towards his house and it is the police. Officer Binnendyk and Captain van Jaarsveld notify him that his son has been murdered. They offer him assistance in anyway but he doesn’t repond as he is in shock and if worried about the wellbeing of his wife when she finds out. He then agrees to go to Pietermaritzburg by aeroplane. Then we find out that Mrs. Jarvis has found out about her sons death through her sobbing.


New Characters:

  • James Jarvis: white farmer and father of the murdered Arthur Jarvis
  • Officer Binnendyk: an Afrikaner
  • Captain van Jaarsveld: one of the most popular men in the village. an athlete(rugby) and a veteran( Great War)


  • The opening of Book II is the same as the opening of Book I in that the setting is being described using a lot of imagery.
  • Patton somewhat brings about similarities between James Jarvis and Stephen Kumalo within the first few paragraphs in his description. They both want the natives to stay in the native life.
  • Although Patton shows similarities in the two characters (Kumalo and Jarvis) they both have two opposite outlooks. Kumalo wants the trbes to stay together for more of a religious standpoint, Jarvis sees the men in the tribe as workers and not very valuable to society.
  • The lives and stories of Kumalo and Jarvis are parallels showcase two different sides of life.


  • land can no longer support the people
  • the natives need to be educated but with education comes other problems


New Words:

  • umnumzana: the equivalent to “Sir”



“-Did they catch the native?

  • Not yet, Mr. Jarvis

The tears filled the eyes, the teeth but the lips. What does that matter? he said. … He was our only child captain”


Chapter 19:  Missing

(Filled in by Ms. Crow)


John Harrison, Arthur Jarvis' brother-in-law, meets them at the airport in Johannesburg and invites them to stay with him. He tells them that Arthur's wife and children are at his mother's house. They go to the police station to answer questions, then Margaret goes to bed, grieving.  Harrison tells James that Arthur was a wonderful, intelligent, thoughtful and just man, who thought more about the plight of black South Africans than anyone but to his father he was a stranger.  He is proud of him; Arthur was fearless, and totally committed to the cause of the natives.

Unfortunately, I had to type this today before class and did not have time to identify quotations….please review this chapter on your own.

Cry, The Beloved Country

Chapter 20 Review and Analysis

Caroline Wren Martin



With chapter 20, we find Mr James Jarvis sitting in his late son's study. He recalls the overwhelming rush of support for him from the community since his Arthur's death. Alan Paton describes the onslaught with a sort of barrage of one-sentence invitations to various organizations, each followed by a polite refusal. Mr Jarvis turns his attention to the contents of the study. He sees four pictures: one of Jesus Christ being crucified, one of Abraham Lincoln, one of a house in Vergelegen, and a scene of willow trees by a river in winter. Now he studies the books and papers in the room. He sees a great number of books about Lincoln, as well as books on many other widely varied topics, from South African wildlife to Soviet Russia. Mr Jarvis looks again at the four pictures on the walls. He then finds a letter from the Claremont African Boys' Club to Arthur Jarvis, praising him, thanking him, and informing him of their decision to re-elect him as president of the Club.

Mr Jarvis, elder, moves on to the real gem of the room - a writing by his son. It is in rough manuscript form, and he is only seeing the last part of its unfinished pages. (Just as he is only seeing the last part of his son's unfinished life... hm...) Arthur writes about the breakdown of the tribal system in a more formal way than Stephen Kumalo, but they seem to agree on that point. The paper that Mr Jarvis finds is written around the argument that change is needed in the way Europeans view South Africa. He says that their past wrongs were "permissible," essentially because they were ignorant of their trangressions, but that now they have seen the results of their errors, and it is "not permissible" to continue in the same way.

            Mr Jarvis thinks about the paper for a little while, rereads everything he's seen so far, reads some of Lincoln's work, including the Gettysburg Address, and finally leaves. On his way out he finds the spot where his son was shot; there is still a stain on the floor. This bothers him, but he makes his way out of the house, much to the relief of the policeman who is chaperoning him.

General Thoughts and Ideas (Rambling):

            This chapter gave me several ideas and predictions with which to work. I noticed some striking similarities between Mr Jarvis' and Stephen Kumalo's respective situations. Both men lost their sons in the very same moment. Jarvis lost his son very simply, but Kumalo's loss is more figurative and more painful because of its confusing complexity. I could write a whole paper on them (and it sounds like I may need to), but suffice it to say that there is plenty of evidence in the writing. Both of their narratives start with the same passage about the lovely road which runs from Ixopo into the hills. This shows that they come from the same place. The two men show similar relationships to their respective families and communities: they are each dominant within their own circles and relationships. The most direct examples are the wives, who both are subservient to the men, but they are still respected. Mr Jarvis is very societally well-placed, as evidenced by the support offered him after his son's death. Mr Kumalo is also universally respected among the "natives" because of his status as a parson. The two share the love of their own families' forms of the "tribe." Both of them lost touch, whether practically or figuratively, with their sons. Now the fathers are both trying to figure out who their sons became after going to Johannesburg.

Focusing more specifically on Mr Jarvis, the subject of my assigned chapter: I found an interesting role-reversal between him and his son. In the beginning of chapter 18, Mr Jarvis is thought romantically about the land that he inherited from his father, which he would have like to have passed on to his own son. As he read the works by Lincoln in chapter 20, it occurred to me that perhaps in lieu of passing down property, he might inherit Arthur's mission. I haven't read ahead yet, but it would be interesting to see if this actually happens. It would fit the symmetry theme, fitting with Stephen Kumalo's role in Absalom's life, as he picks up the reins of caring for his daughter-in-law(-to-be) and unborn grandchild.


Literary Techniques:

            Repetition - the word permissible is used over and over again in Arthur Jarvis' essay on the troubles in South Africa. Essentially, wrongs through ignorance are permissible, but continuing the wrongs despite wisdom is not permissible.

            Symbolism - Mr Jarvis reads a fragment of Arthur's unfinished work from a trailing beginning to a sudden end. The writing is symbolic of Mr Jarvis' view of Arthur's life: he is starting in the middle and finishes at the rude halt.

            Imagery - is characteristic of Paton's writing, but most evident here in the description of the barrage of invitations and the surroundings of the study.

            Rhythm - I'm not sure if this can be its own thing or if it is part of imagery, but there are these sort of cadences of syllables and words and phrases for certain parts - somewhat hectic for the invitations and very steady, driving home the point during Arthur's essay.


Arthur Jarvis - the young activist killed by Absalom Kumalo

Mr James Jarvis - father of Arthur Jarvis

the policeman - escorts Mr Jarvis to Arthur's house

Places: Arthur Jarvis' house in Johannesburg, mainly in the study


            "Books, books, books, more books than he had ever seen in a house! On the table papers, letters, and more books. Mr Jarvis, will you speak at the Parkwold Methodist Guild? Mr Jarvis, will you speak at the Anglican Young People's Association in Sophiatown? Mr Jarvis, will you speak in a symposium at the University? No, Mr Jarvis would be unable to attend any of these." Narrative

            example of the scattered rhythm of the invitations

            "It might have been permissible in the early days of our country, before we became aware of its cost, in the disintegration of native community life, in the deterioration of native family life, in poverty, slums, and crime. But now that the cost is known, it is no longer permissible." - Arthur Jarvis

            example of the sure and steady rhythm of Arthur's manuscript


Courtney Stewart                                                                                                                 February 21, 2007

                                                                                              World Literature – Pd. 8


Cry, the Beloved Country – Chapter 17




Kumalo brings his future daughter-in-law to Sophiatown so she can be in a better place.  He meets w/his son to finalize the thought of marriage. The meeting w/Father Vincent and the lawyer, Mr. Carmichael, starts the process of the trial/marriage.




  • Mrs. Lithebe – Woman/caretaker of the house (in Sophiatown)
  • Father Vincent – Priest/officiator of wedding
  • Mr. Carmichael – Defensive lawyer for Kumalo’s son


Important Word(s)/Important Place(s):


  • Umfundisi – respectful Zulu term for ‘Mr.’
  • Mother – term for highly respected woman, not literally the mother of someone
  • Mrs. Lithebe’s House – welcoming for people of all kinds
  • Mission House – aka, Msimangu’s house – ‘think tank’ for Kumalo, Msimangu, Father Vincent, & Mr. Carmichael




  • Religion – Christianity
  • Inequality/Segregation
  • Fear
  • Paternal bonding




“He passed again through the great gate in the grim high wall, and they brought the boy to him. Again he took the lifeless hand in his own, and was again moved to tears, this time by the dejection of his son.”


Note: fear//paternal bonding


“Reluctantly the boy said, I saw it. The old man was tempted to ask, then why, why did you continue with them?  But the boy’s eyes were filled with tears, and the father’s compassion struggled with the temptation and overcame it.  He took his son’s hands, and this time they were not quite lifeless, but there was some feeling in them. And he held them strongly and comfortingly.


Note: paternal bonding


Source :

Web site link:

Google key word : Cry the beloved country summary and analysis file type : doc

Author : not indicated on the source document of the above text

If you are the author of the text above and you not agree to share your knowledge for teaching, research, scholarship (for fair use as indicated in the United States copyrigh low) please send us an e-mail and we will remove your text quickly.


Cry the beloved country summary and analysis

Cry, the Beloved Country: Chapters 5-12 Notes

Language Arts 10


Chapter 5:


*Msimangu offers Kumalo a room at the home of the elderly Mrs. Lithebe.  It is at this location that Kumalo sees indoor plumbing for the first time in his life.

*Dinner is served at the Mission House and Kumalo enjoys the meal with an English priest and another priest from Ixopo.  During this meal, Kumalo describes how people will leave Ixopo and create a sense of “brokenness” in the tribe.

*At this meal, news of a Johannesburg couple that had been beaten and robbed by a couple of natives was discussed.

*After the meal, Kumalo and Msimangu have their first opportunity to speak privately about why Kumalo has come to the big city.  Kumalo hears that Gertrude now has many husbands (after leaving the one she came to Johannesburg with) and sells liquor and is a prostitute.  She has also been in jail several times and has also had a child since Kumalo last saw her.

*Kumalo then discusses Absalom with Msimangu.  The Johannesburg priest offers his help to find him.

*Kumalo’s brother, John Kumalo, is also discussed.  He is no longer a carpenter, but has become a great man in politics.  Kumalo is also told that John no longer has use for the Church in his life.

*These discussions lead Kumalo to state what he sees as the real problem in South Africa.  It’s not that things are broken, but that they are not mended again and cannot be mended.

*Kumalo feels that it “suited” the white man to break the tribes, but it has not suited him to build something in its place.

*This chapter is designed to make a summary statement on South African politics and the political landscape in the 1940s.

*The discussion of the events reveals the bias of Alan Paton as a white novelist.  He sympathizes with the black pastor Stephen Kumalo, but gives the white ruling class almost a totally “free pass” for the decayed and broken state of the African natives.

*It’s a bit odd that the “tragedy” the priests lament at the dinner table is the killing of a white couple by natives instead of the injustice being thrown at the African natives.

*Even Msimangu initially rejects the idea that the whites have any responsibility for what has happened in South Africa.  He seems to place the problem solely at the feet and in the souls of the black natives.

*The chapter closes with a reminder of how obsolete Kumalo’s becoming and how his “tribal ways” are becoming less and less important overall in the country’s “new scheme” of things.


Chapter 6:


*Kumalo and Msimangu travel to Claremont in search of Gertrude.

*Msimangu says that he does not like segregation.  He sees this as a result of the foolish actions of both the blacks and the whites.  He brings up the “train incidents” as an example.  Here, blacks are thrown off trains and then they retaliate by doing the same to whites when they can.

*Msimangu shows Kumalo one of the richest black women in Johannesburg – she is a seller of liquor.

*Gertrude’s house is found and Kumalo visits her alone.  He finds her almost lifeless and very worn-down.

*Her reason for not writing was that she had no money for such things.

*She claimed her innocence in the crime for which she was jailed.  She said she was just helping another woman so that they could both get money for their children.

*Kumalo tells Gertrude that she has shamed him and that he has come to take her away from Johannesburg.

*When Gertrude and Kumalo return to the Mission house, he is happy for the first time in years because he feels that “the tribe is being rebuilt, and the house and the soul restored.”

*This chapter is designed to show off the central metaphor of the novel – the relationship between rebuilding the black family and tribe and the rebuilding status of blacks in South Africa.

*Gertrude’s “repentance” is a prime example of this.  She has to reject the ways of the big city in order to make a step toward rejoining her own family and tribe.

*While Gertrude’s return is good for Kumalo, it is still shown as “secondary” to the search for Absalom.

*Msimangu is used late in the chapter in order to make a statement about South African politics.  This time, he states that crime happens when blacks and whites are put together.



Chapter 7:


*Msimangu takes Kumalo to see his brother, John (who has grown very fat).  Kumalo notices that John “sits with his hands on his knees like a chief.”

*At first, John does not recognize Stephen.

*John tells him that his wife has left him and that he is living with another woman.

*Kumalo discusses the ways things used to be in the tribal living scenario and John does not have any pleasant memories of that time.

*John says he did not like the fact that he was always “under the rule of a chief.”  He likes Johannesburg because he has his own business and his own life and his own control.  This is why he has no use for the Church anymore.

*It’s ironic that John takes on qualities of a chief – the very authority figure he despises.

*Kumalo gets a small clue from John as to the whereabouts of Absalom (John’s son and Absalom had a small room together and were working for the same factory).

*Msimangu makes another political statement by saying that problems between blacks and whites will only go away when they both stop working for money and power and start working for the betterment and the health of the country.

*This view is shown as being almost impossible to achieve because it requires people to reject self-interest and ambition.

*Kumalo has no luck tracking down Absalom at the factory, but gets a clue pointing to Sophiatown as the place of Absalom’s residence.

*This lead is tracked down, but the trail is put off again by hearing that Absalom has since left for the area of Alexandra (the reason he left was that his friends were not liked by the people he was staying with).

*The early part of this chapter is used to show the stark contrast of urban and rural life by showing the differences between John and Stephen Kumalo.

*John sees the political upheaval in Johannesburg as an improvement and an exciting time.  Stephen sees it as destructive to the individual and to the nation as a whole.


Chapter Eight:


*Msimangu and Kumalo make their way to the bus station to go to Alexandra, but are met at the station by the protestors and persuaded not to take the bus (there is a boycott of the bus going on over the hike in the fare).

*Dubula is the man who does the persuading.  He is famous for being part of the “black trio” of Johannesburg politics:  John Kumalo is the “voice.”  Dubula is the “heart” and Tomlinson is the “brains.”

*Msimangu and Kumalo start on the 11-mile walk to Alexandra and eventually reach their destination.

*They reach the house of Mrs. Mkize and inquire about Absalom.  She says that he has been gone about a year now, but she also seems very afraid to speak about him.

*Msimangu takes time alone to speak with her and gets a name of a local taxi driver that has direct connection with Absalom.

*Msimangu and Kumalo find the driver (his name is Hlabeni) and pay him to take them back to Johannesburg.  In talking with him, they find out that Absalom has gone to Orlando and is living in a place known as Shanty Town.

*On the ride back, they witness a white man assisting a black man who is riding his bike instead of taking the bus.  Kumalo thinks this is great while Msimangu seems to have a hard time understanding it.

*This chapter follows the same pattern as the previous ones – alternating between political details and the plot of the search for Absalom.

*Paton once again shows problems experienced by the blacks, but then turns right around and shows whites being victimized by the blacks.

*In the search for Absalom it is becoming obvious that his condition is getting worse.  Every new detail they learn leads to a place or person worse than the previous point of contact.

*It’s obvious Absalom must be involved in some sort of crime and it must be serious if Mrs. Mkize was terrified as she was about discussing it.


Chapter Nine:


*This chapter can be seen as a bit of a “deviation.”

*The quest for Absalom takes a bit of a back seat so that Shanty Town can be described.

*The difficulty in finding housing in Johannesburg is a central issue.  This leads to Shanty Town’s creation.

*It is interesting to see the white man’s reaction to this place – they first come to take pictures out of curiousity.  As more blacks move there, the white man appears out of anger and the police start driving people away.

*This chapter also shows Dubula trying to work with the Shanty Town residents to make life a bit better.

*As off-beat as this chapter might be, one of its significant points is that Paton comes very close to making a definitive statement about the white man’s responsibility for the black situation.


Chapter Ten:


*Kumalo opens this chapter waiting for Msimangu to take him to Shanty Town.  During this “down-time,” he stays around Gertrude and plays with her little boy.

*Gertrude does not want to discuss her problems with Kumalo, but she does discuss them with the elderly Mrs. Lithebe.

*Since he is being ignored by Gertrude, he turns to the boy as a source of entertainment.  This is short-lived, though, as watching him reminds him of his own son.

*Soon, Kumalo and Msimangu go to Shanty Town and meet a nurse who tells them which “tent” Absalom had been staying in.

*Upon reaching that tent, they find out that Absalom had been sent to the local reformatory school by the authorities.

*Kumalo and Msimangu visit the reformatory and learn that Absalom was given leave due to good behavior and the fact that he had gotten a woman pregnant and (supposedly) arrangements were being made for a wedding.  This is supposed to happen in Pimville.

*The white man at the reformatory is actually a very important character in the novel.  He is the type of white man Kumalo meets throughout the story – kind, loyal, polite.  He is described this way as an example of Paton’s bias toward the ruling race in South Africa.

*The pair head to Pimville and meet the girl that is pregnant, but they learn that Absalom has gone to Springs and she does not know when or even if he will ever return.

*The news upsets Kumalo as he feels the baby will be his grandchild.  Msimangu scolds Kumalo for caring so much and apologizes to the girl as they leave.

*This difference in reaction and treatment of the girl shows the marked difference between the rural and the urban pastors.

*This chapter’s continued search for Absalom may seem frustrating to everyone, but Paton uses it to show even more sides of life in South Africa.

*Unlike Chapter Nine’s harsh politics, this chapter shows how improvements are being made for the blacks living in Shanty Town.  Maybe this is a “balancing act” from Paton?


Chapter Eleven:


*Msimangu assures Kumalo at the start of this chapter that the man at the reformatory can do a better search for Absalom than they can.

*He also invites Kumalo to go with him to a neighboring area where he works with the blind.

*News of another murder is discussed at the Mission House dinner table that night.  The murder victim is Arthur Jarvis (a young man known for his interest in social problems and his work for the betterment of South Africa).

*This murder is the central issue of the chapter and proves to be the turning point in the novel.

*The connection between Kumalo and Jarvis is a bit unclear at this point, but that will change.

*This chapter is a huge example of foreshadowing.  Paton does not spend much time in the novel developing his characters.  If he spends this much time talking about Jarvis’ murder, there must be something significant there.

*Arthur Jarvis is another example of the “noble” European characters in the book.  His murder is seen as “senseless” because he was not a wild racist or anything – he only wanted to work to make South Africa better.


Chapter Twelve:


*This chapter takes place during a conference.

*Mr. McClaren states that native crime will always be a problem until better inspiration and goals are present for the natives of the country.

*A suggestion is made that better schooling would be a solution.

*Some in the group do not like the idea of “cutting up” the country into sections so that white can live without black and black can live without white.

*What is being shown at times is that the white man fears losing his possessions, his control and his superiority.

*Paton uses this section of the chapter to discuss the problems of the country openly.

*Once again, Paton chooses a purely “white” perspective from which to discuss these issues (including apartheid – which was not in place yet but was on the horizon)

*Msimangu is found by Mrs. Ndlela who tells him that she has been approached by the police about Absalom.  She is very afraid that she has done something wrong.

*He comforts her and tells her that everything will be fine.

*Msimangu tells this news to Kumalo, but neither of them can figure out why the police would want to speak to Absalom.

*Kumalo goes to Shanty Town to see the girl associated with Absalom again.  He asks if the police have been there.  She says they have and that they seemed very “heavy” (or serious) about wanting to find him.

*The involvement of the police seems to make a dim connection between the murder of Arthur Jarvis and the location of Absalom.  Maybe this means that Absalom is not simply a transient fellow – maybe he is hiding from the authorities??


Source :

Web site link:

Google key word : Cry the beloved country summary and analysis file type : doc

Author : not indicated on the source document of the above text

If you are the author of the text above and you not agree to share your knowledge for teaching, research, scholarship (for fair use as indicated in the United States copyrigh low) please send us an e-mail and we will remove your text quickly.


Cry the beloved country summary and analysis


Cry the Beloved Country

Freshman English


Review Guide




            Two locations the story takes place in are:


  1. Ndotsheni – a beautiful, rural, Zulu Village in Africa where tribal customs are preserved.


  1. Johannesburg -  a city in South Africa.  The City of Johannesburg has many slums where people are living in very poor conditions. 


The novel takes place in 1946 in South Africa just before the 1948 elections and the onset of apartheid which is the separation of races. 


During the apartheid era, both black and white South Africans fought against legalized racism.  In many ways, the South African fight against apartheid was similar to the American civil rights movement. 




Stephen Kumolo:  An Anglican rector in the Zulu village of Ndotsheni who decides to go to Johannesburg to find his sister, Gertrude and find his son, Absalom.


Gertrude Kumalo:  Stephen Kumalo’s sister who has become a prostitute in Johannesburg.


Absalom Kumalo: Stephen Kumalo’s son who is convicted and sentenced to hang for killing Arthur Jarvis. 


Arthur Jarvis:  A white man who was killed by Absalom.  He was a liberal activist.


James Jarvis:  Arthur Jarvis’ father.  He is a wealthy landowner.


Msimangu:  Head of the Mission House and who helps Stephen Kumalo locate his son and sister.




            Stephen Kumalo, a rector in the Zulu village of Ndotsheni, decides to go to Johannesburg to find his son, Absalom, and his sister, Gertrude.  Both went to Johannesburg years earlier.  Gertrude went to find her husband and Absalom went to find his aunt.  Neither have written home for sometime, so Kumalo decides to try to trace them.


            When Kumalo arrives in Johannesburg, he is shocked by the poverty of the black section.  He is welcomed at the Mission House by Msimangu.  Msimangu leads Kumalo on the search for his sister, Gertrude, whom they easily locate.  She agrees to return to Ndotsheni.  The search for Kumalo’s son, Absalom, continues throughout Johannesburg. 


            One evening Kumalo reads in the newspaper that Arthur Jarvis, a liberal activist, has been murdered in his home during a burglary attempt.  Shortly after the murder, the police begin their search for Absalom, whom they suspect of the murder.  Kumalo and his son finally reunite in jail.  Father Vincent, the English Priest at the Mission House, arranges for a defense attorney for Absalom.  Absalom is convicted and sentenced to hang. 


            Kumalo returns to Ndotsheni with Absalom’s pregnant wife.  Rather than return to Ndotsheni, Gertrude abandons her son and disappears.  Kumalo takes the son to Ndotsheni with him.


            After his return to Ndotsheni, Stephen Kumalo’s prayers for the prosperity of his village are answered.  James Jarvis, the father of the murdered man, has resolved out of respect for the memory of his son, to assist the village people.  Mr. Jarvis has become aware of the needs of the natives by studying his son’s writings.  He decides to provide milk for the children, support for an irrigation project, and education for the farmers. 


            Mr. Kumalo, father of Absalom who killed Mr. Jarvis’ son Arthur, and Mr. Jarvis slowly come to an understanding of each other through their efforts to help the people of Ndotsheni.


About the author:


Alan Paton is the author of Cry the Beloved Country.  One of Paton’s major purposes in writing the novel was to illustrate what happened to the African tribal system as a result of interferences from the whites. 


            - Paton believed that the intrusion of the whites brought about the collapse of African tribal society. 


            - Alan Paton died in 1988 and unfortunately, did not live to see a democratic South Africa. 


            - Alan Paton died just a few short years before his dream for a democratic South Africa came true. 


Source :

Web site link:

Google key word : Cry the beloved country summary and analysis file type : doc

Author : not indicated on the source document of the above text

If you are the author of the text above and you not agree to share your knowledge for teaching, research, scholarship (for fair use as indicated in the United States copyrigh low) please send us an e-mail and we will remove your text quickly.


Cry the beloved country summary and analysis



If you want to quickly find the pages about a particular topic as Cry the beloved country summary and analysis use the following search engine:




Cry the beloved country summary and analysis


Please visit our home page Terms of service and privacy page




Cry the beloved country summary and analysis