CHAPTERS 18 and 19
These Chapters provide us with a character analysis of James
In many ways he is very similar to Stephen Kumalo. They share the same concerns regarding the land and its use, and are conscious of the greater problems facing South Africa, but have not taken any action to face these problems and help solve them.
We suspect that like Stephen, James will also go through a
period of enlightenment as he deals with the tragedy of his son’s murder.
Paton makes the point that there are far too many passive people
on both sides of the divide that appreciate the problems but are not willing to stand up and be counted.
The introduction of John Harrison is Paton’s attempt to ridicule
the old stance taken by so many of the older generation of whites in South Africa. They still regard the situation of South Africa as a white colonial country for which the blacks merely act as the
workforce to support the white society.
They wish to prolong the old days of Empire and keep the black community under firm control. Although he admires the work done by Arthur Jarvis, he considers that he was a dreamer and not practical like himself. It is clear that his son recognizes the absurdity of this standpoint and his views are far more liberal and realistic.
Paton has now formed three father/son relationships in the
novel. All are different, but all have similarities as well. The main ingredient of all three relationships is the element of communication.
So far as the Harrison’s are concerned, father has clearly communicated his views to his son, but the son has the wit to see that the father’s standpoint is incorrect and he has acted accordingly. James Jarvis’ influence on his son has clearly been good, and perhaps out of the three relationships, they enjoyed the best communication, but unlike the father, the son has done more than passively oppose the situation in Johannesburg, as he has acted positively to resolve the situation. So far as Stephen and Absalom are concerned, the relationship is similar to the Harrison’s. Absalom was unable to share his father’s desire to hold on to the old tribal ways and rebelled by going to the attractions of Johannesburg. In doing so he gave up the morals given to him by his father and due to immaturity, took the path of evil, which led to the murder of Arthur Jarvis.