Cry the Beloved Country: Novel Summary: Book III Chapters 30-33

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Book III Chapters 30-33

 

Book III: Chapters 30-33
Kumalo returns to his home in Ndotsheni, with Gertrude's son and Absalom's wife. He is greeted warmly by the villagers, who tell him about the drought. It transpires that they have heard about the fate of his son. Kumalo goes to his church, where some men and women are singing a hymn of thanksgiving, and prays. Then he has a long talk about life and suffering with one of his friends before returning home to his wife.
Kumalo prays for the restoration of Ndotsheni, and decides that there must be some action. He decides to consult the chief and the headmaster of the school. He visits the chief first. He tells him that they should try to keep more of their people in the valley rather than see them all go off to Johannesburg. He proposes that the children should be taught in school how to care for the land. The chief agrees with these goals and says that inspectors have been teaching such things in the schools for years. Kumalo replies that this has done no good. There is no grass or water, cattle are dying and there is no milk. Children are dying. The chief knows Kumalo is right but he has nothing practical to offer other than to say he will speak to the magistrate.
Kumalo then goes to see the headmaster. The headmaster is helpful, saying that in the schools they are trying to relate the life of the child to the life of the community. But he has nothing practical to offer.
Kumalo goes to the church to work, and is surprised to see a young white boy ride up on a horse. The boy is friendly, and Kumalo takes him inside his house, which is close to the church. He knows that the boy is James Jarvis's grandson. The boy uses the chance to practice using Zulu words, since he is learning the language. He also learns that there is no milk in the village, and that children are dying.
That night, a friend arrives at the Kumalo house. He brings milk in a cart for the small children. The milk has been sent by Jarvis, who has heard from his grandson about the dire situation in the village.
Kumalo is informed in a letter from Absalom's lawyer that there will be no reprieve for Absalom. He will be hanged in Pretoria on the fifteenth of the month. Kumalo also receives a letter from Absalom in which he accepts his fate.
Kumalo goes outside and sees a number of white men, including Jarvis, the magistrate and the chief, not too far from the church. The white men have brought sticks and flags. Jarvis appears to be in charge as the sticks and flags are placed in the ground.
As the men disperse, a storm is brewing. Jarvis takes refuge in the church, with Kumalo. They sit together in silence as the rain comes down. The roof leaks in many places. Jarvis sympathizes with Kumalo over the coming execution.
That night the villagers come out and examine the sticks. No one knows what they are for. Later, rumors circulate that some kind of dam is to be built.
The small boy comes to visit Kumalo again. He wants to practice his Zulu once more. After the small boy leaves, a young black man, Mr. Letsitsi, arrives outside the church. He is the agricultural demonstrator, sent by Jarvis to teach farming to the people of Ndotsheni. He confirms that there will be a dam, so that the cattle will always have water to drink and the land will always be irrigated. The small boy returns to say goodbye; he is about to return to school in Johannesburg.
Analysis
Book III shows the possibility of reconciliation between the races and the emergence of a more just society. Part of this progress is accomplished at an individual level, between Kumalo, who has every reason to fear Jarvis, and Jarvis, who has every reason to shun Kumalo. But instead they develop respect for each other. Jarvis understands the suffering that Kumalo must be experiencing, and he has no anger towards him.
Although Kumalo is a religious man and does not put his faith in political action, he has learned from his time in Johannesburg that some action has to be taken to improve social conditions. He believes that people must be prepared to help themselves. So far, this has not happened in Ndotsheni. Despite their aspirations, neither the chief nor the headmaster have accomplished anything for their people. The chief has been satisfied with vague assurances, and the headmaster deals only in theories. Kumalo would have been at a loss to know what to do had it not been for the timely intervention of James Jarvis, which followed the chance meeting between Kumalo and Jarvis's grandson, the son of the murdered Arthur Jarvis. The boy is a symbol of hope. He knows nothing of racial prejudice. He treats Kumalo with the same respect and friendliness that he would show to a white man.

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