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Cry, the Beloved Country | Study Guide

Alan Paton

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Cry, the Beloved Country | Characters

Character Description
Rev. Stephen Kumalo Rev. Stephen Kumalo is the novel's protagonist. An elderly black man of great integrity and piety, he serves as the Anglican priest in charge of St. Mark's Church in the small village of Ndotsheni in the region of Natal. Read More
James Jarvis James Jarvis is an affluent white planter whose farm is located close to Ndotsheni. After Arthur's murder, Jarvis becomes steadily more involved in the major social issues of the era. Read More
Rev. Theophilus Msimangu Rev. Theophilus Msimangu is an Anglican priest posted at the Mission House in Johannesburg. He assists and befriends Stephen Kumalo when Kumalo comes to Johannesburg to help his sister, Gertrude, and find his son Absalom. Read More
Absalom Kumalo Absalom Kumalo is the son of Rev. Stephen Kumalo. He has drifted away from home to the big city of Johannesburg, where he has fallen in with criminal companions, including his first cousin, Matthew Kumalo. Read More
Arthur Jarvis Arthur Jarvis is the son of James Jarvis. A leading white liberal in Johannesburg, Arthur Jarvis champions many controversial social reforms in South Africa. Read More
Gertrude Kumalo Gertrude Kumalo is the sister of Rev. Stephen Kumalo. She slips into a licentious life of prostitution and liquor dealing. Read More
The bishop The bishop is the clergyman who serves as Stephen Kumalo's boss and as the head of the diocese in which Ndotsheni is located.
Mr. Carmichael Mr. Carmichael is a well-respected lawyer in Johannesburg. Through Father Vincent's influence, he agrees to take on the case of Absalom Kumalo.
The chief The chief, or titular head of Kumalo's clan, is a pompous, ineffectual figure who fails to provide any leadership, but insists nonetheless on his prerogatives.
Mr. Dubula Mr. Dubula is a local Johannesburg politician who tries to aid the poor and beleaguered blacks in Shanty Town.
Girlfriend of Absalom Kumalo Absalom's pregnant girlfriend is sought out by Stephen Kumalo. Arrangements are made for her wedding to Absalom when the latter is in prison and about to be executed.
Mr. Harrison Mr. Harrison is the father of Mary, Arthur Jarvis's wife. He hosts the Jarvis family when they come to Johannesburg after Arthur's murder.
John Harrison John Harrison is Arthur Jarvis's brother-in-law. He escorts James Jarvis to see the African Boys' Club Arthur was interested in supporting.
Harry Harry is a white police captain in Johannesburg. In a dialogue with a "high officer," he discusses the dangers to public order posed by John Kumalo's political rhetoric.
Mrs. Hlatshwayo Mrs. Hlatshwayo lives in Shanty Town in Johannesburg. She informs Stephen Kumalo that his son, Absalom, stayed for a while with her family, but then a magistrate sent Absalom to a reformatory.
Margaret Jarvis Margaret Jarvis is the wife of James Jarvis and the mother of Arthur Jarvis. She dies toward the end of the novel.
The judge The judge is the magistrate who presides over Absalom Kumalo's trial. He is portrayed as powerful, stern, and eloquent.
John Kumalo John Kumalo is a politician and the brother of Rev. Stephen Kumalo. He is portrayed as vain and dishonest, hiring a crooked lawyer to help get the case against his son Matthew dismissed.
Matthew Kumalo Matthew Kumalo is John Kumalo's son. He is one of the three criminals who break into Arthur Jarvis's house.
Mrs. Stephen Kumalo Mrs. Stephen Kumalo is Stephen's wife. Patient and long-suffering, she supports her husband faithfully, but plays only a minor role in the story.
Washington Lefifi Washington Lefifi is the Secretary of the Claremont African Boys' Club, a group supported by Arthur Jarvis. In a letter to Arthur, Lefifi expresses the club's thanks for Arthur's patronage.
Napoleon Letsitsi Napoleon Letsitsi is a young agricultural expert who plays a role in the reclamation of Ndotsheni and its valley from a devastating drought.
Mrs. Lithebe Mrs. Lithebe is a kind, upright lady who lives near the Mission House in Johannesburg. Widowed and financially secure, she offers accommodation to Stephen Kumalo, Gertrude, and Absalom's girlfriend.
Mrs. Mkize Mrs. Mkize lives in Alexandra, near Johannesburg, and is one of the people questioned about the whereabouts of Stephen's son, Absalom. She discloses that Absalom and his friends were probably dealing in stolen goods when she knew them.
Mrs. Ndlela Mrs. Ndlela resides in Sophiatown, a neighborhood of Johannesburg. She tells Theophilus Msimangu neither she nor her husband liked Absalom's friends, hinting that Absalom has been consorting with bad companions.
Johannes Pafuri Johannes Pafuri is a friend of Absalom Kumalo and Absalom's cousin, Matthew. All three men participate in the home invasion of Arthur Jarvis—an attempted robbery that results in the fatal shooting of Arthur.
Mrs. Seme Mrs. Seme tries to rent a house in Johannesburg, but finds the price of five pounds to move her name up the waiting list is higher than she can afford. Mrs. Seme represents the desperate overcrowding situation in the black districts of Johannesburg.
Sibeko Sibeko lives near Ndotsheni. His daughter has gone to Johannesburg to work for the daughter of a certain Mr. Smith, but there has been no news of her.
Barbara Smith Barbara Smith is the niece of Margaret Jarvis. She employed Sibeko's daughter but then fired her.
Son of Arthur Jarvis The young son of Arthur Jarvis befriends Rev. Stephen Kumalo during his visit to his grandfather, James Jarvis. The two practice speaking Zulu together.
Father Vincent Father Vincent is a white priest from England who resides at the Mission House. He is extremely sympathetic to Stephen Kumalo's plight, and intervenes on several occasions to offer Stephen help and counsel.
Young reformatory official The young reformatory official plays a significant role in Stephen Kumalo's search for his son, Absalom, who had once been sent to the reformatory by a magistrate.
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