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

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CHAPTER 9

In this chapter-an intercalary chapter giving background information-the narrator shows you what is happening to blacks other than Kumalo in Johannesburg. In a dozen short, dramatic scenes, we learn about the Shanty Town area near Orlando where Hlabeni has said Msimangu should take Kumalo next.

For both whites and blacks, it is true that "All roads lead to Johannesburg." But once they are there, blacks must go to slums like Alexandra and Orlando to rent a room or buy part of a house. If they pay enough they can get a room, but the house overflows. Quarrels break out and the evicted one makes the rounds again-but ten thousand others need homes, too. There's been war in Europe and North Africa, and no building is being done. A person can be on a list for months, even years like Mrs. Seme, with no guarantee of getting a place. Even bribery may not work. The young men in the crowded houses never seem to work or sleep, but they wear good clothing, white people's clothing. There will be trouble.



Finally, those who are desperate enough join Dubula's committee, and take him up on his idea. Everywhere in town there are discarded planks, tin cans, pieces of corrugated iron, old sacks. Overnight, thousands of families erect Shanty Town. As squatters they pay no rent, only a shilling to the committee. Children sicken and die without doctors, but people gather at night around the fires and sing "God Save Africa." White journalists take pictures. Other whites, wondering what "the poor devils" will do in winter rains, start building rough houses as Dubula said they would. Clearly, some whites have consciences, but there are limits. More squatters come, from Pimville and Alexandra and Sophiatown, but this time police drive them off.

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