CHAPTERS 11 – 14
The previous Chapters have provided the ingredients that lead to
the high degree of lawlessness among the black community.
Many whites attribute the crime-wave to the nature of black people considering that they are inherently evil. This is an ignorant standpoint. The lawlessness stems from the fact that the black community suffers social degradation and many young black males will not work year after year for a pittance, and see the only way to improve their situation through a life of crime.
The murder of Arthur Jarvis is ironic, for he is one of the few
white people who endeavor to bring justice and social reform to all the people, and his death severely damages this cause.
In these Chapters there are several passages that are statements
regarding the situation in South Africa and have no direct relationship to the plot development.
From one of these passages comes the title of the book and we read, “Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire.” This passage stresses the change taking place from the old values into a regime where there is nothing to hold together the people. The result is chaos, for the native people have seen the rules devalued and ignored and they are without guidance.
Paton indicates that trouble is mounting in Johannesburg and
that crime is escalating. He views the increased Police suppression as exacerbating the situation.
It is not just the whites that fear the increase in lawlessness. The god-fearing native population shares their fear as well.
The storm that Kumalo has faced since his arrival in the city
ceases during his visit to Ezenzeleni.
He is cheered-up by the scene of the whites helping the blind black natives, and he is inspired by Msimangu’s sermon. He is given renewed strength to pursue his quest, which now seems clearer to him. He is also determined to take a more active role in the education of his own people back home. Msimangu’s sermon enables Kumalo to obtain a better understanding of the suffering endured by his people. Kumalo is impressed by the young minister’s unselfish devotion to his flock.
Kumalo has had to come to terms with the fact that his sister
was a prostitute and his brother is a corrupt businessman. Now he is faced with the shock that his son is a murderer.
It is with some trepidation that he journeys to the prison to meet his son. Although he was able to break down the barrier between himself and his sister, the task with Absalom will be much greater.
His brother, John, is seen in a true light, having no regard for
his brother’s situation. He is only concerned with saving his own son. If he can show no loyalty to his family, how can he show any loyalty towards his people?
The scene in the prison between Kumalo and Absalom is quite
touching and poignant, and despite Kumalo’s initial fears, the pair is soon reconciled.
Kumalo can see that his son genuinely regrets his actions, and reading between the lines, Jarvis’ death is an unfortunate accident caused by Absalom’s fear. We suspect that John’s son has led him astray.
We note that Kumalo will seek help from Father Vincent, another
caring white man.