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

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CHAPTER 29

Father Vincent conducts the marriage ceremony at the prison. Msimangu, Gertrude, and the new wife leave, giving Kumalo and Absalom time to talk. Kumalo promises to raise the child to be born, and tells Absalom he and the girl are returning to Ndotsheni the next day. Absalom asks his father to do some errands for him, and then asks him to name his child Peter, if it is a boy. Absalom is terrified of hanging, and Kumalo comforts him. What a price they have had to pay to be reunited in love and understanding.

Back from the prison, Kumalo wants to know what John is going to do about his own son, lest Matthew end as Absalom has. John again refers to the parable of the prodigal son; he is determined to bring Matthew home and keep track of him. Kumalo then brings up the subject of politics, hoping to make John understand that he must not let hatred corrupt his use of his powerful voice. When John doesn't understand, Kumalo gets angry. Have you ever been so angry that your mouth seemed to blurt out words independently of your brain-words you were then unable to take back? If so, you can understand how anger and desperation lead Kumalo to tell John there's a spy in his shop. It could be true but isn't, so far as Kumalo knows, but he can't seem to undo his words. Then John says, "What a friend," and Kumalo can't help crying out that Absalom had two such friends. When John understands that Kumalo is talking about Matthew, he in turn is overwhelmed with anger, and kicks Kumalo out of his shop. Ashamed that he has spoken so differently from what he intended, but finding that John has already locked his door, Kumalo can only walk away. He knows he has lost his brother for good.



The Jarvises, too, are leaving. Harrison and Jarvis agree that the prosecutor should have hammered at Mrs. Mkize more in order to convict the two accomplices, but in a new understanding of how to prevent "native" crime, Jarvis also gives John Harrison a huge donation for the boys' club in Claremont.

There is a farewell party for the Kumalos that evening at Mrs. Lithebe's. Though Msimangu doesn't explain his motives, he reveals that he is to be the first black man in South Africa to enter a monastery, and everyone rejoices. At evening's end Kumalo walks Msimangu to the gate, and Msimangu gives him his savings. Kumalo weeps at having to leave his friend, and they promise to pray for one another. Back in his room, Kumalo opens the savings book to find that Msimangu has gifted him with more money than he's ever seen.

Before dawn the next morning, Kumalo wakes Absalom's wife and Gertrude's little boy, but Gertrude is gone. She has left behind the dress and turban he bought her, clothes for her new life. They have been discarded; Gertrude could not change after all. (Are you disappointed about Gertrude?) Kumalo has not succeeded in bringing back John and Matthew and Gertrude and Absalom. But he has, instead, a new family: a young girl, a little boy, and a child yet to be born.

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