CHAPTERS 6 and 7
Paton is at pains to describe the poverty of the native
community in Johannesburg.
It does not require great imagination to visualize the scene in
the streets of Claremont where Gertrude lived. From his description of Gertrude we see that her trade has left her spiritually dead.
Kumalo just by his presence, rescues her and forgives her, and leads her back to a better way of life. She had not written to her brother because of the shame she felt being forced into prostitution to maintain her son. She had traveled to the city to seek her husband, but was unsuccessful. The sickness that she suffers from is shared by many in these ghettos.
We see a glimmer of hope with the prospect of Stephen’s family being rebuilt.
In contrast, John’s life is totally different.
In the eyes of the Church his way of life is just as corrupt as Gertrude’s, and that is why he has turned his back on the Church. He tells Kumalo that he is now free from the tribal system and the ignorant Chiefs that ruled it. He, in fact, acts like a Chief in the city, ordering natives around to do his bidding. He is now full of his own importance, and although he is in a position of power, he does not use this to pursue good, but for corrupt ideals.
Msimangu plays an important part in the book. He is in
fact the mouthpiece for the author, and through his dialogue, the reader can identify clearly with the evils prevalent in this society.
What John envies is the power that the white man has. He wishes to have a share of this power and be like the white man. It is Msimangu that makes this clear to Kumalo.