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

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CHAPTER 34

On another rain-threatening day, the Bishop is due for Confirmation services at St. Mark's. Before his arrival, Kumalo's friend comes home early in the empty cart. Jarvis has dismissed his workers because his wife has died. Kumalo feels unable to violate custom by visiting Jarvis in person, so he writes a short note expressing his and his people's grief. He worries whether he should even do that-what if Margaret died of grief? But his sympathy is real, and he sends a boy to High Place with the note.



Rain pours down during the confirmation service, so the celebration afterwards must be held in Kumalo's house. When the rain is finally over and the people have gone, the Bishop proposes transferring Kumalo to a parish far away from Jarvis. He is trying to be kind, but Kumalo is heartsick at the words. Then the boy he sent to High Place returns with a letter from Jarvis. In his letter, Jarvis thanks Kumalo for his note, and says that before she died, Margaret asked him to build a new church for the people of Ndotsheni. As if he had read Kumalo's mind, he adds that Margaret was sick before Arthur's death. In his joy Kumalo cries out, "This is from God!" What is the Bishop's tone when he asks to see this message from God? How does the Bishop behave after he has read it? Is there any question now of reassigning Kumalo?

Standing outside in the dark when the Bishop has gone, Kumalo seems to hear a voice saying that God will comfort his people. The closeness to God that he felt himself losing in Johannesburg has returned completely. Going inside, he finds the women making a wreath for Margaret Jarvis. Kumalo's friend offers to go all the way to Carisbrooke to find the proper flowers, and Kumalo makes the card. They might have done this even before events in Johannesburg, but Jarvis is now far more likely to recognize the compassion the gift expresses.

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