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Barron's Booknotes-Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton

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CHAPTER 6

In the morning Kumalo sets out to confront Gertrude. On the way, he learns about racial separation in Johannesburg, including separate buses for whites and blacks. The police can't keep up with disturbances created by white roughnecks and black youths, too, Msimangu says. When they pass the building of The Bantu Press, the black newspaper, Msimangu comments that John and his friends call it The Bantu Repress. Kumalo doesn't pick up on the remark. As yet he does not directly associate his own problems with repression in the cities.

But the Claremont district shocks him-children not in school, houses shabby, streets filthy despite beautiful names. Msimangu leaves Kumalo at Gertrude's door on Hyacinth Street. When she answers his knock, fear fills her eyes. Why, you may wonder? What does she think her brother will do? She doesn't let him in until her gamblers clear out, and by then she has gained composure. Her voice is hard, but her thin defenses crumble at Kumalo's anger. She falls to the floor crying, protesting that she wants to leave, but is too bad to go back home. Kumalo softens quickly, as he did when angry with his wife in Ndotsheni. His normal kindliness returns, and he and Gertrude pray together-quietly though, lest the neighbors laugh.



Gertrude agrees to pack up her belongings and her child-a small boy who has come into the room with a runny nose and dirty clothes-and move to Mrs. Lithebe's. When Kumalo asks about Absalom, though, she can't tell him much-just that he used to spend his time with his cousin, John Kumalo's son.

With Msimangu's help, Gertrude moves the same day. Mrs. Lithebe welcomes the woman and boy, and Kumalo is ecstatic. He's only been in the city a day, and already the tribe is being rebuilt, and a soul has been restored. Most readers feel a little skeptical, though. Can Gertrude's change of heart be trusted? Will she really be able to go back to village life?

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Barron's Booknotes-Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
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