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Cry, the Beloved Country Summary and Analysis of Book I, Chapters 13-17


Chapter Thirteen:

Kumalo and Msimangu make the silent journey to Ezenzeleni, and on the journey Msimangu tells him that he comprehends his silence. Kumalo understands that Msimangu was right: there is no need to fear the one thing in a terrific city where there were thousands upon thousands of people. Absalom had actually gone astray where many others had gone astray in the past, however Kumalo can nonetheless not comprehend that he may have eliminated a white man. Kumalo wonders how he failed, and what he might do about his expected grandchild. Kumalo admits to himself that the people was broken and would be healed no more.

Kumalo finds Ezenzeleni great, for the blind had actually eyes provided to them and made things that he could never ever make such as baskets. Msimangu gives a preaching to the blind there in which he prices quote from the Bible: “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness … To open the blind eyes to bring out the prisoners from the prison/ And them that sit in darkness of the jail house.” Kumalo knows that Msimangu is speaking to him at this moment. After the sermon, Kumalo goes to Msimangu and states that he is recovered.


Stephen Kumalo begins to lastly understand the repercussions of his child’s actions in this chapter, in which he retreats into silence upon knowing of the fate of his son. This chapter functions as a transitional point for the Kumalo character. His character’s focus shifts from the mere search for his boy to setting right the fate of his son and those included with the murder. This is finest shown in the shift in Kumalo’s mindset from the particular issues over reuniting the tribe to additionally more individual issues (the fate of the young pregnant woman) and more broad social issues associating with the fate of South Africa. A significant question of this chapter concerns the uncertainty over Kumalo’s newfound attitude: it is uncertain whether Kumalo’s awareness are a cynical admission of failure or a needed modification and revelation, a departure from his previous naïveté. Definitely there are aspects of both, but through the metaphor of loss of sight that pervades this chapter, Paton recommends that Kumalo’s brand-new attitude is not a sign of failure however an indication of maturity.

Throughout the visit to Ezenzeleni, Paton compares the state of Stephen Kumalo through the chapter to the blind at Ezenzeleni. Kumalo goes into Ezenzeleni metaphorically blind, however leaves the area with a newfound vision. Paton imbues this with extreme Scriptural images, the most explicit of this included in Msimangu’s preaching, which is in numerous methods the inspiration for Kumalo’s conversion. Like numerous Biblical figures, Kumalo is redeemed by suffering and gets a new and greater vision from it.

Chapter Fourteen:

When they return from Ezenzeleni, Kumalo finds that Mrs. Lithebe had actually discovered buyers for Gertrude’s tables and chairs, and Gertrude would use the money to purchase shoes and a coat. The boy comes to go to Kumalo, and informs him that he has actually arranged so that Kumalo can come to the prison. Msimangu firmly insists that Kumalo inform John where he is preceding he leaves. When Stephen confesses this to John, John stresses that his boy and Absalom are buddies. John chooses to accompany Stephen to the prison.

At the prison, Stephen Kumalo finally finds his child, who claims that it is far too late. Stephen wishes to know why he carried a revolver, and he says that he never ever knows when he may be assaulted. Absalom says that he was scared when the white guy came so he shot him, but did not mean to kill him. Stephen asks about the reformatory, and asks whether this is Absalom’s repayment to their generosity. Absalom weeps over whatever, however Stephen continues and asks why he wrote no message to him. Absalom blames the devil, however Stephen asks whether he can state that he combated with the devil and had no strength left. Stephen orders Absalom not to write to his mom till he sees him once again. When Stephen leaves his child, he sees John Kumalo and tells him the story. John Kumalo firmly insists that there is no proof that his kid or the other boy existed at all. John Kumalo asks Stephen who will believe his son. He claims that both he and Stephen save souls, which he will save Absalom’s.


The contrast in the attitudes and style of John and Stephen Kumalo end up being significant in this chapter, in which the 2 bros discover that both of their children are suspects in the murder of Arthur Jarvis. This evokes the underlying conflict between the two bros obvious from their first conference, in which John represented the secular and the metropolitan, while Stephen represented the religious and the rural. The conflict between the two bros will include other issues as the fate of the 2 cousins diverge, while encompassing the significant difference in the 2 males’s techniques to the world. Paton suggests the eventual dispute between the brothers through the difference between their visits with their particular boys; while Stephen Kumalo utilizes his visit to Absalom to seek fact and repentance, John utilizes his visit to establish a legal technique and try to find a method to shift the blame far from his boy.

Alan Paton uses the character Absalom Kumalo as a customized symbol of the issues of blacks in South Africa required to a tragic end. Absalom Kumalo remains in some sense a cautionary tale: he emerges in this chapter not as a heartless killer or an irresponsible short-term, as his actions have actually recommended, however as an afraid and foolish young man acting on impulse instead of planning. Paton recommends this through the sincere quality in which Kumalo expresses himself; he appears hardly efficient in dissembling, and honestly admits his fault in the murder of Arthur Jarvis. Paton portrays him as a pitiable and weak character caught in a circumstance that he hardly comprehends however deeply regrets. This naïveté in Absalom will be the boy’s failure, as he succumbs to those who are more smart than he is and thus able to move higher blame to the repentant kid.

Throughout his see with Absalom, Stephen Kumalo never ever fluctuates; he remains real to his principles in dealing with his kid, properly scolding his boy for his lost chances and trying to bring his kid closer to repentance. This suggests that the battle for Absalom Kumalo will not be a legal one. With his admission of regret, Absalom’s legal fate is already to a fantastic extent sealed; whether Stephen Kumalo can find redemption for his boy will be the focal point of the remainder of the book.

Chapter Fifteen:

Kumalo returns to Mrs. Lithebe’s home tired and dispirited. The young white male from the reformatory comes to speak to him about a legal representative. He says that Absalom needs to have an attorney, since he does not trust John: his strategy to deny that his child and the third man existed, while a lawyer can make the contention that Absalom had no intent of actually killing the white man. He warns Stephen that, no matter what, Absalom will be severely punished, but if his defense is accepted, it will not be severe. Kumalo can hardly think that this, which happens to one in a thousand, happened to him. Father Vincent, the white priest at Objective Home, tells Stephen Kumalo that his stress and anxiety has relied on fear and his fear into grief, but this grief is much better than worry, for sorrow may enrich while fear always impoverishes. Kumalo can not see how such a life can be amended, however Daddy Vincent states that he is a Christian and there was a burglar upon the cross. Kumalo roughly says that his son was not a thief, and he can not suppose it to be less than the best evil he has actually ever known. Father Vincent informs Kumalo to pray and rest.


The boy from the reformatory validates what Paton recommended in the previous chapter: the fate of Absalom Kumalo is essentially sealed, considering that he has actually confessed his responsibility in the matter, but the fate of the other two suspects is still flexible and John Kumalo will attempt to use Absalom’s admission of guilt as a method to move the blame from his son to Absalom.

This chapter go back to the religious styles that have been prevalent throughout Cry, the Beloved Country. This chapter concentrates on the religious question of absolution and forgiveness; while Dad Vincent recommends that Absalom Kumalo can still be saved, Stephen Kumalo remains in doubt whether his son may be forgiven for the worst you can possibly imagine sin. Dad Vincent also suggests the spiritual theme of change through suffering. Paton hence suggests a sense of catharsis for Kumalo’s travails; the sadness that he now feels may improve him.

Chapter Sixteen:

Kumalo goes to Pimville the next day to see the lady who was pregnant by his child. He goes without Msimangu since he feels he can do this better alone. He tells her that Absalom remains in jail for killing a white guy, and she screams at hearing this. He reveals her the newspaper with the short article about the killing, and asks why she wants to marry Absalom. He tells her that he would like to know, since he does not wish to take her into his household if she hesitates. She looks at him excitedly and states that she is willing. She tells him that she has actually had two other halves currently, both of whom were captured. Stephen wishes to hurt her upon hearing this, and screams that now the 3rd is caught, asking if she has ever had a murderer before. She diminishes away weeping, and he asks if she will now take a fourth. He asks her how old she is, and she believes that she is sixteen. Stephen asks her if she might live at a quiet church, but she states that tranquility is what she desires. She tells him that she is from the Church of England, and he laughs at her simpleness. He insists that if she repents of this plan, she must inform them and not flee as she did from her mother.


Although the young pregnant woman never ever becomes a totally understood character in Cry, the Beloved Nation, it remains in this chapter that Alan Paton best recommends the various measurements in her personality. This chapter functions as a test for the girl in which Kumalo provides her with Absalom’s circumstance in order to make sure that she is prepared to become part of his household. Throughout this test, the girl emerges as a parallel to Absalom; like the daddy of her coming child, the girl is simple and unaffected, unaware of even her own age, efficient in incorrect behavior but likely incapable of premeditated malice. She has actually had lovers before Absalom, but does not deny the fact.

The parallels in between the young girl and Absalom Kumalo hence shift the concern of redemption to some degree far from the locked up boy to his pregnant other half. The redemption of the woman through marriage and life in rural Ndotsheni will serve to some extent as a proxy for the redemption of Absalom. This is part of the reasoning behind Kumalo’s test of the young girl; he utilizes this test to find whether she deserves redemption and efficient in getting it.

Chapter Seventeen:

Mrs. Lithebe is one of the few individuals who does not rent spaces, for she has enough cash. She appreciates Kumalo for saving Gertrude and the child, and finds it pleasant to have Gertrude and the child around your house, even if she does speak too quickly to strangers. Kumalo asks Mrs. Lithebe if the woman from Pimville can stay with them, but she states that there is no bed for her and she would need to sleep on the floor. The brand-new woman is not like Gertrude, for she is honestly thankful to be in your home. Mrs. Lithebe slams the girl for her careless laughter, and cautions her not to hurt Stephen Kumalo with her recklessness.

Stephen checks out the prison, and tries to set up the marital relationship in between his child and the girl. Absalom informs Kumalo that the two other men involved cursed him in front of the authorities, positioning all the blame on him. Kumalo tells him to keep guts and not forget that there is a legal representative who will come soon.

Dad Vincent presents Kumalo to the legal representative, Mr. Carmichael, who will take the case professional deo. He states that it is a simple case, for the young boy says that he fired since he was afraid, and it will depend totally on the judge and his assessors and not for a jury. Dad Vincent guarantees Kumalo that Carmichael is a great man, among the greatest attorneys in South Africa and among the best pals to the blacks in South Africa.


The attorney protecting Absalom Kumalo, Mr. Carmichael, continues the pattern of good-hearted white South Africans who pervade Cry, the Beloved Nation. Like the worker at the reformatory, Paton portrays him as a hero for assisting Stephen Kumalo, therefore inordinately shifting the focus of the novel from the correct protagonists to secondary characters. The attorney is extraordinarily kindhearted, demanding working on the controversial case for no charge and running the risk of ostracism for taking part in this racially charged trial. This is yet another example of Paton’s exaltation of the white characters at the expense of the black protagonists, and exposes the bias that pollutes the book. The legal representative simply confirms the suspicions of the reformatory worker: Absalom’s admission of regret seriously restricts his alternatives, and the only question staying regarding his legal fate is whether he will get some restricted grace or will be sentenced to death for the criminal offense. This chapter likewise verifies that the technique of John Kumalo will be to shift the blame from his child to Absalom alone. Paton therefore sets up Absalom Kumalo to be a martyr, still guilty of the crime but not to the extent to which John Kumalo suggests.

The introduction of the girl from Pimvlle into Mrs. Lithebe’s family positions her in contrast to Gertrude; while both ladies have actually struggled with similar challenges and even have similar character defects (Mrs. Lithebe chastises both for an easy going way), there stays some possibility for redemption for the girl. While the girl accepts Kumalo’s kindness and aid, Gertrude remains bitter and jaded. This emphasizes the redemptive function that the girl plays in the novel. While the fates of Gertrude and Absalom Kumalo are currently chosen to an excellent level, the girl still has a possibility of redeeming herself for her sins.

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