CHAPTERS 11 – 14
The Evening Star newspaper carries a tragic headline,
“Well-known City Engineer Shot Dead. Assailants thought to be natives.”
Msimangu is shocked at this terrible news, for Arthur Jarvis was
a brave young white man and one of the stalwarts of the fight for justice for all South African people. He was in fact President of the African Boys’ Club in Claremont. Jarvis was regarded as
one of the main bridges between whites and blacks in Johannesburg.
Father Vincent, another local white minister from England, asks
Kumalo if he knows Jarvis’ father, James, as he owns the farm overlooking Kumalo’s home village. Kumalo admits that he does know James Jarvis and sympathizes with him, as Arthur was his only son.
Kumalo sinks into a deep depression.
Since his arrival in Johannesburg he has been bombarded with one distressing episode after another and he sees no hope in the situation apart from Gertrude’s boy. He had known that the situation between the whites and the blacks could be better, but he hadn’t realized how poor relationships were between the two races until he arrived in Johannesburg.
Noting Kumalo’s depression, Msimangu comforts Kumalo and tells
him that the young white man at the Reformatory will do a good job in searching for Absalom.
They will allow the young man time to make his research and will visit with him again in a few days. Msimangu has to conduct a service at Ezenzeleni, which is an institute for the blind, and he suggests the Kumalo accompanies him as he might find it interesting. Kumalo is lifted by his visit to Ezenzeleni where he witnesses how well blacks and whites can work together, and he is moved by the care given to the blind natives. Kumalo is introduced to the European Superintendent of the Institute, who showed him round the facility.
He had time to contemplate all that had happened to him and
Kumalo’s thoughts turned to his son’s girlfriend and the unborn child that would be his grandchild. He was more determined than ever to see through his quest to rebuild his family, which involved
Gertrude and her son, and his own son, the girl and the unborn child.
In the afternoon, Msimangu conducted his service and Kumalo was
inspired by the young minister’s sermon. The sermon was well received by the congregation and at the end Kumalo told Msimangu that his depression was lifted.
Kumalo returned to Mrs. Lithebe, who had found a buyer for
Gertrude’s possessions, and these were sold for '3, which was a good bargain.
The young man from the Reformatory arrived with the news that it
was a Reformatory boy, Absalom, and two others, one being his cousin (John’s son) who had committed the crime of murdering Jarvis, but apparently it was Absalom that had fired the shot.
The young man was concerned what the repercussions would be for the Reformatory. He informed Kumalo that the three boys had been arrested.
Arrangements were made for Kumalo to visit the prison, but on
the way there, Kumalo wished to break the news of what had happened to his brother. John’s reaction to the news was to blame Absalom entirely for the crime and try to free his own son.
The two brothers make their way to the prison.
When they arrive they are taken to separate rooms to meet with their sons.
Kumalo asks Absalom, “Why did you do this terrible thing, my
The son confides in his father that it was through fear that he fired the gun. He did not mean to kill the white man. Kumalo goes on to ask Absalom about his girlfriend, and whether he wishes to marry her. He does and Kumalo hopes that this can be arranged whatever the outcome of the trial. The father comforts his fearful son and confirms that he will stand by him. Kumalo leaves his son and meets up with his brother.
John is concerned about obtaining a lawyer for his son. He
is preoccupied regarding his problems and does not offer to help Kumalo.
Kumalo then remembers words spoken to him by Father Vincent back
at the Mission when the news broke about the murder. He offered help them, and Kumalo resolves to seek this help.