Cry, the Beloved Country - Study Guide Chapters 32-34 Summary & Analysis

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Chapters 32-34 Summary

As Chapter 32 opens, a child delivers four letters from the store to Kumalo. Two are from his son, one from Msimangu and one from Mr. Carmichael the lawyer. He opens Carmichael's letter first, because he knows it will have news of whether his son has been granted mercy by a higher court. Carmichael gently explains that there will be no mercy and that the execution is scheduled for the 15th of the month. He shows the letter to his wife.

Kumalo hears the sound of a car approaching and goes out to look. Some white men get out of the car and meet the chief of the village and Jarvis. Kumalo watches from the church as the men look around, pointing and waving and placing sticks in the ground. The white men get back in the car, telling the chief to be certain that nobody disturbs the sticks. As the men are leaving, clouds gather and a storm breaks. Jarvis, who is on horseback, sends his horse home and asks Kumalo if he can come into the church to wait out the storm. The roof of the church leaks heavily, and the sound is deafening inside from the rain on the metal roof. After the storm stops, Kumalo shows Jarvis the letter from Carmichael. Jarvis reads it and returns it and says he will remember his son on that day.

The white boy returns to see Kumalo in Chapter 33, and Kumalo teaches him some more Zulu, impressed at how well the boy is picking it up. As midday approaches, they hear a car outside and the boy says it is his grandfather, returning from a trip. They go outside and Kumalo sees that a young black man has just stepped out of Jarvis' car. Jarvis and his grandson continue on.

The young man is Napoleon Letsitsi, an agricultural specialist who has been hired by Jarvis to help the people of Ndotsheni. Kumalo is overjoyed. Letsitsi tells him about the stakes in the ground, which are markers for a dam that is to be built. Water for the village will be pumped in from a river on Jarvis' property. Letsitsi says he will go to the chief to discuss the things that the villagers can do to bring their land back to production. The boy returns briefly to tell Kumalo that he is leaving for the city the next day but will be back for the holidays and wants to continue his Zulu lessons. Kumalo is sad to see him go.

In Chapter 34, the people of St. Mark's church are preparing for a confirmation ceremony. The bishop himself is expected, and the children to be confirmed are dressed in their best clothes. Before the ceremony, news comes that the wife of James Jarvis has died. Kumalo is grieved, and struggles with whether he should send a note of condolence. Finally he writes a brief note and sends a boy to deliver it to the Jarvis house.

Following the ceremony, the bishop takes Kumalo aside for a discussion. He tells Kumalo that he intends to move him to a different church. Kumalo is devastated, but the bishop explains that it is because he is so close to Jarvis, the father of the man killed by Kumalo's son. Kumalo finds himself wanting to explain everything to the bishop, but cannot. As he sits in thought, a note arrives from Jarvis himself, thanking him for his kind thoughts and telling him that one of his wife's last wishes was to see a new church built in Ndotsheni. Kumalo is once again overjoyed. He shows the note to the bishop who sees that there is no animosity between the men and abandons his plan to move Kumalo.

Chapters 32-34 Analysis

The sad news that Absalom's appeal for mercy has been denied arrives in Chapter 32. Kumalo and Jarvis have another chance encounter when Jarvis has come to the village to oversee the surveying for a new dam and is caught by a rainstorm. Seeking shelter in Kumalo's church, he witnesses firsthand the poor condition of the building, foreshadowing his subsequent offer to build a new church.

Napoleon Letsitsi arrives in Chapter 33, a paid consultant hired by Jarvis to help the village revive its land. Like the young white boy, letsitsi is a symbol of the future of South Africa, an educated native man who can help his fellow natives improve their lives. His wages are still paid by Jarvis, however, underlining that Paton sees an important role for European settlers in helping the natives.

The sudden death of Jarvis' wife focuses his efforts on Ndotsheni and he indicates her wishes that a new church be built. The news comes at a dramatic moment in the narrative when it seems that Kumalo is about to be ordered to move away from the village by his superior in the church. The reader is taken up alongside Kumalo in this suspenseful episode which ends happily as Jarvis' news arrives in the nick of time.

This section contains 844 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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