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Cry, the Beloved Country Summary and Analysis of Book I, Chapters 1-6


Reserve I:

Chapter One:

The first chapter of Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Nation begins with a description of a road that runs from the town Ixopo into the hill and then results in Carisbrooke and to the valleys of Africa. The turf is rich and matted, a holy ground that must be kept and safeguarded for it keeps and secures males.


Alan Paton starts Cry, the Beloved Country with a description of the land surrounding Ixopo, the town where the pastor (and protagonist) Stephen Kumalo lives. Paton develops this as a rural and isolated location, which is considerable to establish the character of Kumalo and his relationship to the bigger metropolitan area of Johannesburg where he will quickly find himself. The style of this very first chapter is grand, corresponding the survival of the soil to no less than the survival of the mankind, but this serves an essential function, relating the life and health of the nation (in both its meanings) to the health of its inhabitants and, by extension, the novel’s characters.

Chapter 2:

A kid brings a letter to the umfundisi (pastor) of the church, Stephen Kumalo, who provides the little lady food. This letter is from Johannesburg, and hence may be from either his sister Gertrude, who is twenty-five years more youthful than he, his bro John, a carpenter, or his only child Absalom, who had actually gone and never returned. Both Stephen and his wife hesitate when opening the letter, thinking it may be from their son, however it is instead from the Reverend Theophilus Msimangu, who associates with Stephen that Gertrude is very ill and encourages him to come to the Objective Home in Sophiatown, Johannesburg, to help her. Kumalo sighs, and tells his spouse to get him the cash intended for Absalom’s education at St. Chad’s, in the meantime that Absalom has gone to Johannesburg, he will never ever come back. His other half informs Stephen to take the whole twelve pounds, 5 shillings and 7 pence, just in case.


This chapter works as the introduction to the lead character of Cry, the Beloved Country, the pastor Stephen Kumalo, establishing his primary conflicts and character traits. From his very first encounter with the child, Paton establishes Kumalo as a kind male yet powerful and appreciated within his community regardless of his hardship, as revealed by the little savings that he and his other half had scraped together for their child’s education. Kumalo is extremely a man of the nation; he and his wife approach Johannesburg as an almost mythic location where people go and are never ever seen again. Paton establishes this sense of awe and wonder in the city in order to produce a genuine sense that Kumalo is an outsider as soon as he in fact reaches the metropolitan area.

This chapter likewise introduces one of the major styles of Cry, the Beloved Country: the reassembling of the household. Paton establishes that three members of the Kumalo family are now in Johannesburg, and a significant thrust of the book will include bringing these diverse member of the family together. The most important of these characters is the errant kid Absalom Kumalo, whose fate will be the significant fixation of Stephen Kumalo as the story progresses. Paton produces a certain sense that Absalom has been lost to his household, with the reference that he will never ever come back to Ixopo and the use of his savings for other purposes, in addition to the dread with which the Kumalos approach the letter from Johannesburg; nevertheless, in spite of this dread it is very important to note that Stephen and his partner have not quit expect Absalom, and it is this hope that will supply a significant motivation for Stephen Kumalo’s actions.

Using the word “umfundisi” is essential, for it encompasses both the literal meaning “parson” as used to Stephen Kumalo, but is also used as a sign of regard. Thus using the term to characters other than Kumalo and Reverend Msimangu does not always indicate their occupation, but is utilized as a title of respect similar to “sir” or “mister.”

Chapter 3:

The train takes Stephen Kumalo from the valley into the hills of Carisbrooke, as he frets about the fate of his sister, the expense of the journey, and the possible hardships he may deal with. He remembers the story of Mpanza, whose child Michael was killed in the street of Johannesburg when he accidentally entered traffic. His most pressing fear, nevertheless, issues his son. Before the train leaves, Kumalo’s companion asks him to inquire about the daughter of Sibeko, who has actually gone to Johannesburg to work for the daughter of the white male uSmith. (the surname is, as expected, actually Smith; the prefix u- serves the exact same function as Mister in Zulu). Sibeko himself did not ask due to the fact that he is not a member of their church, but Kumalo firmly insists that he is of their individuals no matter. Kumalo travels with the worry of a man who lives “in a world not made for him, whose own world is escaping.”


Alan Paton once again develops Johannesburg as a place of terrific fear and threat in this chapter through both the anecdote about the child of Mpanza and the request by Sibeko for Kumalo to contact his child. The very first anecdote handle the actual physical threats offered by the city, while the 2nd anecdote boosts earlier assertions that Johannesburg is a location where individuals from the nation go, never ever to be seen again.

Paton also develops the character of Stephen Kumalo in higher information. In handling the case of Sibeko, he is both kindly and stern, firmly insisting that Sibeko has no reason not to make his request directly, for they are both from the exact same individuals regardless of having different churches, but he nevertheless admits that he might find some matters more pressing. Kumalo is single-minded in his quest in Johannesburg, regardless of the wide range of concerns. Regardless of the immediate risk for Gertrude, Kumalo displays a much higher worry concerning the missing Absalom, thus foreshadowing that the primary narrative of the book will include his son and not his sibling.

Perhaps the most essential characteristic of Stephen Kumalo that Paton develops is that Kumalo is a man who is reaching obsolescence. He is a little rural pastor who does not reside in the modern-day world and is growing to discover that the remnants of his world are collapsing around him.

Chapter 4:

The train passes the mines outside of Johannesburg, which Kumalo presumes might be the city, and the indications shift from Kumalo’s Zulu language to the Afrikaans language that dominates the city. When the train reaches Johannesburg, Kumalo sees high buildings and lights that he had never ever seen before. To Kumalo, the sound is immense, and he wishes Tixo (the name of the Xosa god) to watch over him.

A boy techniques Kumalo and asks him where he wants to go. He tells Kumalo that he need to wait in line for the bus, but that he will go to the ticket workplace to buy the ticket for him. Kumalo offers him the cash, but the young man does not return, and an elderly man tells Stephen that he can only purchase the ticket on the bus: he has been cheated. Kumalo takes a trip with the elderly guy, Mr. Mafolo, and they get to the Mission Home, where Reverend Msimangu welcomes him. At the Objective House, for the very first time, Stephen Kumalo feels secure in Johannesburg.


This chapter focuses mainly on the descriptions of Johannesburg as an imposing and threatening place. Paton establishes that the city is foreign to Kumalo in numerous ways, even in language; Kumalo has so little experience with metropolitan areas that he mistakes a mining area for a metropolitan area. Kumalo is for that reason the essential outsider when he reaches Johannesburg. This is essential in a number of aspects. His outsider status permits Paton to utilize characters, most importantly Msimangu, to discuss the operations and logistics of Johannesburg that would be obvious to an actual citizen of metropolitan South Africa. Also, the novelty of the circumstance permits Kumalo a greater attention to detail, therefore creating chances for in-depth description of horrors that may seem regular to any modern reader. Last but not least, Kumalo’s status as an outsider, as this chapter certainly demonstrates, makes the pastor a prepared victim for opportunists. Regardless of his age and experience, Kumalo possesses a verifiable naïveté that will be substantial throughout Cry, the Beloved Nation.

The relationship between Reverend Msimangu and Stephen Kumalo will be a crucial one throughout the novel. Msimangu, like Kumalo, is a deeply spiritual male, yet his experience in Johannesburg has provided him a much various viewpoint. He will serve essentially as the guide to Stephen Kumalo as he travels throughout the South African city on his numerous quests.

Chapter Five:

Msimangu uses Kumalo a room in the house of the senior Mrs. Lithebe. Before they eat, Kumalo cleans his hands and witnesses indoor plumbing for the very 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 your home broken. They likewise 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 informs him that Gertrude pertained to Johannesburg when her partner was hired for the mines, but when his job was finished he did not return. Msimangu informs Kumalo that Gertrude now has “lots of spouses” and resides in Claremont, where she makes bootlegged alcohol and works as a woman of the street. She has actually been in prison more than when, and now has a kid. Kumalo tells Msimangu about Absalom, and Msimangu offers to help him find his son. Msimangu also informs Kumalo that his bro John is no longer a carpenter, however is a great man in politics, despite having no usage for the Church. Kumalo describes that the catastrophe of South Africa is not that things are broken, however that they are not fixed again and can not be fixed: it suited the white guy to break the tribe, but it has not matched him to construct something in its location.


This chapter provides an intriguing commentary on the status of South African politics around the publication of the book in the late forties. The conversation of present occasions and politics in South Africa exposes the bias of the white author Alan Paton, who places his compassions directly with the pastor Stephen Kumalo but however gives the white ruling class of South Africa almost total absolution for the decayed state of the African locals who occupy the country. It appears both odd and irregular that the fantastic criminal catastrophe that the priests lament is the killing of a white couple by natives, in spite of the marked injustice versus Africans during that duration, and even Msimangu basically rejects the notion that the whites have any responsibility for what has actually taken place in South Africa. He seems to locate both the blame and the service to the blacks’ problems in themselves, in discovering a method to independently restore their way of living. Paton can plainly recognize and lament the oppression to the natives of South Africa, but this chapter manifests little sense of regret and almost no legitimate sense of duty for this injustice.

As soon as again, Paton information 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 belongs to the residues of the tribe, now a relic amongst his contemporaries.

Chapter Six:

Kumalo and Msimangu travel from the Mission House in Sophiatown to Claremont. Msimangu says that he does not like partition, but regrets that the whites and blacks are not apart because blacks are often thrown off the train by young hooligans, and black goons do the same. Msimangu explains a lady who is among the wealthiest black ladies in Johannesburg due to the fact that she is an alcohol seller. Kumalo sees Gertrude alone, and finds her almost lifeless. He asks her why she did not write, and she claims she had no cash. She states that she was not guilty of the crime for which she was sent to prison, but she assisted another female to get cash for her kid. Kumalo informs Gertrude that she has shamed him, and he has concerned take her away from Johannesburg. Kumalo asks about Absalom, however she states that John’s boy will understand. When Gertrude and Stephen Kumalo go back to Mrs. Lithebe’s home, he is happy once again for the very first time in years, for now “the people was being rebuilt, your home and the soul restored.”


A central metaphor for Cry, the Beloved Country is the relationship between restoring the family and the people and rebuilding the status of blacks in South Africa. Alan Paton constructs the rescue of Gertrude to conform to this concept: her repentance occurs when she declines the metropolitan life of Johannesburg, a life that centers around unlawfully offering alcohol and prostitution, in order to return to her house in rural Ixopo. Paton describes Gertrude’s life in Johannesburg as an unabashed scary, as the despairing female deteriorates herself to no end till her pastor bro can save her. The return of Gertrude, in spite of being the ostensible rationale for Stephen Kumalo’s see to Johannesburg, is nonetheless secondary to the mission for Absalom. It is quite substantial that Stephen quickly turns from the more pressing problem with his sister to question her about his child; Stephen Kumalo is a guy obsessed with a particular quest, and this mission will control the book.

Once again a conversation of South African political affairs takes an intriguing turn; Msimangu appears to be an apologist for segregation, keeping in mind that criminal offense takes place when the 2 races are assembled. Although he first notes that white thugs attack blacks, he takes discomforts to consist of the reverse scenario. This method is maddeningly even-handed and, in the argument for segregation, seems almost an apologia.

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