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Free Study Guide-Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton-Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 13

Summary

On the way to Enzenzelni, Kumalo is reticent even on reaching Enzenzelni he remains aloof submerged in gloomy thoughts. He is deeply distressed by his son and hopes that he hasnít committed the greatest sin by killing a man. He dreams of returning to his village and rebuilding his tribe, getting his son married to the young girl. Suffering has made Kumalo more humble and empathetic. Kumalo is invited to hear Msimangu's sermon Msimangu's golden voice and the golden words of the Bible revive him from his despairing mood. The white manís attempt to help the black and the black blind men finding a direction in life touches Kumalo, and he is filled with optimism.

Notes

Kumaloís perturbed thoughts forbade Absalomís crime. His worst fear will be confirmed when his son commits the unpardonable sin of taking a life. However, here at Enzenzelni, where white men are assisting their blind, black brethren to find a direction in life. Kumalo seems to be finding a beam of guiding light even though distressing portents hover around him. The brutal fact that his tribe can never be mended has finally sunk in and Kumalo prepares to face the candid reality and chooses to channel his energies to help other and to prevent the budding generation from frittering away. Msimanguís golden sermon and the selfless devotion of the man helps Kumalo to red re-endorse his faith in man and god; and Kumalo returns from Enzenzelni, a more mellowed and pacified man.


CHAPTER 14

Summary

On the day of the return from Enzenzelni, the white man at the reformatory comes along with Msimangu and informs Kumalo that his son has been arrested for the murder of a white man at Parkwold. The white man tells him that two other reformatory boys, one of them being his brother Johnís son were also detained but it was Absalom who had fired the shot. Kumalo sets out for the prison; he looks devastated and gaunt with pain and shock. On the way, he goes to Johnís shop and breaks the dreadful news to him. John accompanies him to the prison.

Kumalo meets his son in the prison. Kumalo is in an agitated state and lets loose a barrage of question. There seems to be no earthly explanation to the drastic thing he has done. The father and the son are exhausted by the confrontation. Kumalo departs and promises to visit him again. Outside the prison, John is relieved that his son did not fire the fatal shot, and intends to hire a lawyer to defend him. The white man is angry that he failed to reform Absalom and vents his ire on Kumalo. Kumalo looks up to his brother for consolation, but he callously deserts him. Kumalo walks towards Mission House. He decides to meet Father Vincent, who had promised to help him.

Notes

The revelation of Absalomís heinous crime is a climatic moment in the novel. Absalomís crime was foreshadowed in the reports of sporadic killing in the city and in Kumaloís ill premonitions. However, it is a cruel quirk of fate that the revelation comes tumbling down just when Kumaloís spirits seem to have been restored.

Kumaloís confrontation with his erring son is a exceedingly painful moment in the novel. The fatherís joy at finally finding his son is cleaved by the murder and now his son languishing in the prison. The communication between them is taut and marred with lapses, indicative of the abysmal gap that has come between them. The desperate and mindless jaws of the city have devoured Absalom where as the old man from the backwoods cannot comprehend Absalomís predicament. It is only later, that he will move to the understanding of his sonís situation and his insecurity. The meeting of Kumalo and his son is reminiscent of Kumaloís meeting with his sister. Awkwardness, fear and lack of understanding are reflected in both the meetings.

The character of John Kumalo stands in dire contrast to that of Msimangu and Father Vincent, while John Kumalo is selfish and ditches his brothers, instead of lending a helping land. The latter two go out of their way to assist and comfort Stephen Kumalo. John Kumalo's desertion raises serious doubts about his integrity and dedication to the South African causes. For if, he can betray his own brother; it isnít unlikely that he may betray his own nation as well.

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