Cry, the Beloved Country Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What feelings do Stephen Kumalo and his wife have before they open the letter they receive at the beginning of the book? Why do they feel this way?

Stephen Kumalo and his wife feel a sense of anxiety and foreboding before they open the letter. Because they have not heard from any of their family in Johannesburg in a year, they believe that any news they receive at this point will be bad news.

2. What additional errand does a friend of Kumalo’s ask him to run while he is in the city? How does this reflect the themes of the novel?

Kumalo’s friend asks him to seek out the daughter of a villager who went to Johannesburg as a maid for a white family. Like members of Kumalo’s family, the daughter has left the small, community-oriented village for the big, dangerous city and been swallowed – no one has heard from her in a long time, and this likely means something bad has happened to her. This reflects that the novel maintains that the city is bad while village life is good.

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