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

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CHAPTER 12

In this chapter the omniscient narrator returns. Different styles of language strike your ears as you hear lyrical passages from the narrator alternated with quick, sharp, dramatic scenes being enacted in various parts of the city. Citizens in one white suburb want to hear a resolution demanding better police protection. Another man argues that more protection is only a temporary solution and that what is needed is better schooling. Others retort that schooling just produces more clever criminals. In another place, one man argues that it's unhealthy to convict blacks who violate pass laws and send them to mix with real criminals.

Society matrons argue the merits and practicality of recreation parks for blacks. Other people demand the complete cutting up of South Africa into black and white areas; still others say the compounds for male workers at mines and factories must be done away with so families can live together. The English-speaking churches call for education and opportunity; the Afrikaans-speaking churches want to see the natives develop along their own paths, but do not define exactly what that means. In the end there is no agreement.



Whites buy locks and dogs, and give up nighttime walks under the beautiful sky. The narrator says again, "Cry, the beloved country," because children yet unborn are better off. If they never learn to love their country, fear can't rob them of that love.

Next follows a series of short, dramatic scenes that telescope Kumalo's original search for Absalom into one day. Msimangu learns the police want Absalom. He sets off to retrace their steps, and Kumalo insists on going along and paying for the taxi. But the police, too, reached a dead end at the girl's door, and no one, not even the girl, knows exactly why the police want Absalom. How would you describe Kumalo at this point? Can you imagine the hope and the fear that must be tearing at his heart? No wonder his hands shake, back at the Mission House, as he pays the taxi driver. Things do not look good for Absalom, his only son whom he deeply loves.

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