Cry, the Beloved Country | Study Guide

Alan Paton

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Cry, the Beloved Country | Book 3, Chapters 30–31 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 30

This chapter narrates Stephen's return from Johannesburg to his home in Ndotsheni, Natal. The beautiful, majestic landscape contrasts with the erosion and deterioration of the soil. In a slow-paced reverse sequence, Stephen returns to his native land by train. Once he arrives, his return is celebrated with prayers and hymns.

Chapter 31

Stephen prays earnestly for the restoration of the farmlands in his district. He visits the tribal chief and the school headmaster. Both are portrayed as ineffectual individuals. But Stephen is given a ray of hope by a young white boy—the son of Arthur Jarvis, who has come from Johannesburg to visit his grandfather, James. Stephen serves as the boy's tutor in the Zulu language. Soon a delivery of milk arrives, courtesy of James's generosity. The milk will help nourish black children in critical need.

Analysis

These chapters introduce the final phase of the story's narrative arc. The reader may wonder how Kumalo will readjust to his native region after the trauma of the events in Johannesburg. Questions abound as to how Stephen's relationship with James, his near-neighbor, will develop, especially after their dramatic encounter in Chapter 25. James has also returned to Ndotsheni following the trial and conviction of Absalom for Arthur's murder. What will happen as he and Margaret try to restore order to their lives after the death of their son?

The welcome celebration to Ndotsheni vividly dramatizes how dearly Stephen is loved by his people. No one blames Gertrude or Absalom for their actions. Instead, a hymn of thanksgiving is sung, fear is cast out, and the simple, humble people are blessed by their priest.

Chapter 31 presents two contrasting portraits. On the one hand, the scenes involving the chief and the headmaster—titular community leaders—suggest adult leadership at this level is ineffectual, even bankrupt. On the other hand, the charming encounter of Stephen with the unnamed young son of Arthur suggests hope and reconciliation. As in Chapter 25, the Zulu language plays an important role here, when Arthur's son grows interested in practicing Zulu with Stephen.

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