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Cry the Beloved Country Study Guide Questions
Terms in this set (68)
Paragraphs two and three in Chapter 1 sharply contrast. Explain the significance of these two
paragraphs in terms of the novel's central theme.
Paton symbolically describes the land. As it was rich and plentiful, the tribe also flourished. As the land became overworked and mistreated, the tribal life failed. The land becomes a symbol of tribal life. Also, as the ruined land is symbolic of the native life, the good lands which hold the water are symbolic of the white man's life. There is a deep contrast between the "haves" and "have nots."
Identify Stephen, John, and Gertrude.
Rev. Stephen Kumalo is the main character of the novel who travels to Johannesburg in hopes of restoring order to his family. John is Stephen's brother. Gertrude is Stephen's sister.
"Once such a thing is opened, it cannot be shut again." Explain.
Stephen Kumalo was reluctant to open the letter in his hands. Such a letter only came with very good or very bad news. Either way, the reader would be irreversibly affected. One may also symbolically infer that once a person is made aware of a problem (such as social injustice) he cannot turn away; the problem will not go away by itself; action must be taken.
Why did Stephen Kumalo go to Johannesburg?
He received a letter informing him that his sister who had moved there was not well. He went to see what he could do for her. While there, he intended to try to find his brother and his son who also had gone to Johannesburg to live.
"The lights ... fall... on the grass and stones of a country that sleeps." Explain the symbolic
significance of this statement.
This is another reference to the symbolism used in Chapter 1. The grass could symbolically be whites and the stones could symbolically be natives. Light traditionally symbolizes education or justice; in this case, perhaps it is public awareness. Perhaps all together these images suggest the beginning of a public awareness by both natives and whites that the problems of social injustice cannot be ignored anymore.
6. What does "Umfundisi" mean?
Umfundisi means pastor or reverend.
"The journey had begun. And now the fear back again ...." What fears did Kumalo have?
He had fear of the unknown, fear of a city where boys were killed crossing the street, fear of Gertrude's sickness, fear for his son's well-being, and "deep down the fear of a man who lives in a world not made for him, whose own world is slipping away, dying, being destroyed...."
What happened to Kumalo when he first arrived in Johannesburg?
A young man pretended to help him buy his bus ticket but stole his money.
Identify Msimangu and Mrs. Lithebe.
Theophilus Msimangu is a reverend who sent for Kumalo and helps him in Johannesburg. Mrs. Lithebe is the woman who rents Kumalo a room.
Describe Gertrude's sickness.
She is morally corrupt. She makes and sells liquor, lives with prostitutes (and we assume she is one), and she has been in prison. It is not a physical sickness that attracts Msimangu's attention, but a moral one.
Why is Gertrude's sickness upsetting to Kumalo?
Being a man of God, immorality in any form is distasteful; however, having his own sister behave this way is truly upsetting. He would hope that his own family would behave in a more God-like fashion.
What is Kumalo's brother John doing in Johannesburg?
He has turned into a politician, speaking in public for the cause of the natives.
"The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that they are not mended again." Explain what Msimangu meant. (Ch. 5)
It is bad enough that there is such injustice in South Africa, though one can see how it came about. The wrong comes in that the injustices have not been eliminated since they have been recognized.
"It is fear that rules this land." Who fears whom?
Whites fear the natives and the natives fear the whites.
Describe Kumalo's meeting with his sister (when he finds her in Johannesburg).
He confronts her with each of his questions—why she didn't write, if she found her husband, that she was in prison, etc. She answers simply and truthfully. Their first minutes together seem cool—not at all the warm embrace one might think brother and sister might share. The relationship doesn't begin to warm up until she agrees to leave Johannesburg with Kumalo.
Kumalo bought Gertrude and the child new clothes. Why is that symbolically
The new clothes symbolize the putting on of a new life.
Describe Kumalo's first meeting with his brother John in Johannesburg.
Kumalo confronts him just as he did his sister. Notice, though, that John's answers come with long qualifiers and explanations (unlike Gertrude's). John defends his actions and accuses the church of not carrying out its responsibilities towards its people. John also provides information about Absolom's whereabouts.
What is Msimangu's one hope for his country?
He hopes that one day "white men and black men, desiring neither power or money, but desiring only the good of their country, come together to work for it."
Why did Dubula ask Kumalo and Msimangu to walk instead of taking a bus?
The natives (who used the bus system) were protesting a fare increase and were refusing to ride the bus lines.
Why is the government more afraid of Dubula than Tomlinson or John Kumalo?
Tomlinson has the brains, John has the voice, but Dubula has the heart.
What did Mrs. Mkize tell them about Absalom?
She said he had been there but had left. He had been stealing goods and was in bad company. She thought the taxi driver Hlabeni might know of Absalom's whereabouts.
What is the point of Chapter 9 in relationship to the novel's themes?
Chapter 9 is used to emphasize, elaborate on and personalize the terrible conditions under which the natives of South Africa were living.
When Kumalo finally reached Pimville, where Absalom was supposed to be living, what did he find?
He found a young native girl with whom Absalom was supposed to be living but whom he had apparently abandoned.
A certain news headline and article grabbed the attention of the priests at the Mission House.
What was the article about?
The article is about a white man named Arthur Jarvis was shot and killed in his home by three black men.
Identify James and Arthur Jarvis.
JAmes JArvis is the father of Arthur Jarvis the owner of High Place Farm Carisvrooke, Natal, and partner in the city engineering firm Davis, vander Walt and Jarvis. Arthur Jarvis was courageous man and a great fighter of justice. He was a lawman, President of the African Boys' Club in Claremont. Well known for his intrest in social problems, and for his efforts for the welfare of the non-European sections of the community.
"Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end." What "things"?
The thing it is refering to is the crimes, people hurting others, and events of man destroying the country.
"There are voices crying what must be done, a hundred, a thousand voices." Chapter 12 gives
several examples of what these "voices" say. What do they say?
They are saying they seek counsel and they cry for one thing or another.
What news of Absalom does Mrs. Ndlela give Msimangu?
Mrs. Ndlela tells Msimangu that the police came to see her and were looking for Absalom. She says it looks bad and that she was scared and gave them the address to Mrs. Mkize.
To what decisions did Kumalo come in Ezenzeleni?
He decided that Msimangu was right and the suspense, and not-knowing made him fear about his sons. He also decided his tribe was broken and could not be mended. Everything would make him stronger.
Where does Kumalo finally meet Absalom? Describe their meeting.
Kumalo and Absalom meet in jail. Kumalo asked strait questions Absalom would either not answer or it would be short with no explanation.
How does John decide to handle his son's defense?
John decides to handle his son's defense by hiring lawyer.
What is Father Vincent's gift to Kumalo?
Father Vincents gift to Kumalo is that he is going to help get Absalom a good lawyer and if possible marry the girl and Absalom.
Why does Father Vincent say sorrow is better than fear?
Father Vincent says "for fear impoverishes always, while sorrow may enrich.
In what way was Kumalo cruel to the girl?
Kumalo is cruel to the girl by when he finds out she has had others before his son that had also been caught he asked her if she was going to take another after his son and if she's ever had a murder. He also asked if she would still desire no husband even if he desired her,
To what arrangement do Kumalo and the girl finally agree?
They agree that if she repent of her plan either in Johannesburg or in Kumalo's home that she must not keep it to herself or run away like he did with her mother. That she will promise to tell him that she repented.
Describe the content of the conversation between Mrs. Lithebe and the girl.
Mrs. Lithebe and the girl talk about laughter and that she should not laugh carelessly for she was brought to a good home by a good man. She also asks if the girl is content to be here and to be careful when playing with the boy because she is with child.
Identify Mr. Carmichael.
Mr. Carmichael is a lawyer who is taking Absalom's case and is doing it for God and it will either be free or cost Kumalo vary little.
Book II begins with the same sentence as Book I did. Compare and contrast the beginning
passages of Book I and Book II.
They both begin with the same opening, but book two doesn't go into the bad stuff like one does. Book one talks about Kumalo's village; and book two is told from Jarvis perspectice where he doesn't see the bad that the blacks live in.
Contrast Jarvis' arrival in Johannesburg with Kumalo's.
Jarvis took a plane while Kumalo took a train. Kumalo is met by a man who steals his money and Jarvis is met by Mary's brother. Jarvis came to Johannesburg because his son was killed while Kumalo came to look for his son. Jarvis is offered condolences for his son's death, while people seem to be ashamed to known Kumalo's son. Jarvis takes a car, Kumalo takes a taxi. Jarvis had a much more pleasant arrival.
What was ironic about Arthur Jarvis' death?
What was ironic about Arthur Jarvis' death is that he was trying to help the natives get right and was killed by three natives.
Why did Arthur Jarvis read about Lincoln?
Lincoln delt with issues between blacks ans whites. Lincoln freed the slaves. This made Lincoln Arthur's model because he delt with similar situations and succeeded.
What were Arthur Jarvis' last written words?
Arthur Jarvis' last written words were "Allow me a minute..."
Explain the difference between "justice" and "just."
Justice is when a judge fallows the law while just is doing what is morally correct. A judge could do justice and not be just.
"No second Johannesburg is needed upon the earth. One is enough." Explain why not
No second Johannesburg is needed because their is so much evil in this on town that if their was another one we would be in horrible trouble and is bad enough one city is so unjust.
Why was Jarvis "sick at heart" as he read some of his son's papers?
Jarvis is sick at heart because his son says that his family never taught him about the reality of South Africa and this hurt Jarvis.
Why did Kumalo appear to be ill when Jarvis opened the door?
He was trembling and sat on the lowest step as though he was sick or starving. He also did not answer Jarvis when he was asked a question. He continued to tremble and look at the ground so Jarvis could not see his face.
What was Jarvis' reaction after Kumalo identified himself as the father of his son's murderer?
Jarvis was silent when Kumalo told him that he was the father of his son's murder. Then he left Kumalo and walked to the trees of the garden. Then he turned around and went back to Kumalo.
"There is no applause in prison." Explain the inference regarding John Kumalo.
John Kumalo does not want to go tp jail because their is no one to listen to him talk and he wants to be in the spotlight but is not willing to go to jail to fight for his rights is the inference.
"Nothing is ever quiet except for fools." Explain.
In the book the foolish never want to get involved so they remain silent out of misguided self-preservation. When relistically no one is ever quiet not even the fools because they normally have the most to say.
Why was the headline about another housebreak-murder "bad news"?
Another housebreak murder is bad news because it was done by another native and this incident will not help Absalom's case it will only make it worse and will have a part in the judges decision on Absalom's case.
What is the verdict for Absalom?
Absalom's verdict is that he is guilty for the murder of Arthur Jarvis in his home in Parkwold on the afternoon of October 8 and that he is to be hung until dead for his crime.
Why did Absalom marry the girl even though he was sentenced to death?
Absalom still married the girl because he felt it was the right thing to do to not shame his family more and that her and the baby would have the protection of his family.
Explain the significance of the name of Peter for Absalom's son.
Peter had been a disciple of christ who was known for denying knowing christ after was arrested and when christ was resurrected Peter renewed his allegiance to him and the gospel. So naming his son Peter is like his second chance.
Why did Gertrude leave?
Gertrude leaves because she doesn't want to shame her brother, so she goes to become a nun.
Describe Kumalo's return home.
Kumalo's return home is one of welcome. He's welcomed by several villagers but most of all his wife. He introduces his wife to her daughter in-law and nephew after informing her that Absalom will soon die. The villagers also tell him how they are happy to have him back, they did not understand the priest that was sent to fill in for him.
Why did Kumalo visit the chief? What did he want?
Kumalo decides that he must speak to the chief about the state of Ndotsheni. When he talks to the chief he offers little help. Kumalo wants to try and keep as many people as possible in Ndotsheni.
Who was the small boy who rode to Kumalo's place?
The young son of Arthur Jarvis comes from James Jarvis' estate. He come on a rd horse and Kumalo calls him inkosana "little chief."
What is the significance of the boy's trying to learn Zulu?
The boy trying to learn Zulu is important because it shows a bridge can be formed by two cultures and he is a symbol of hope. He knows nothing of racial prejudice and treats Kumalo with the same respect and friendliness that he would show to a white man.
What was Mr. Jarvis' first gift to the natives of Kumalo's village?
Mr. Jarvis' first gift to the natives is milk for the children.
What was Jarvis' second gift to the natives?
The second gift to the natives was that he hired an agricultural demonstrator to teach the natives how to farm.
James Jarvis' wife dies
What did Kumalo do for Jarvis? What did the natives do for him?
Kumalo sends a sympathy letter to Jarvis. The natives send a wreath of white lilies with a card that had their sympathy on it.
When the Bishop came for the confirmations, what did he suggest for Kumalo?
The Bishop suggest that Kumalo should leave Ndotsheni because the father of the man Kumalo's son murdered is his neighbour.
Why was Kumalo not transferred?
Kumalo is not transferred because of the letter that James Jarvis sent back about helping them build a new church and that his wife suffered before their son died.
What happened to Absalom?
Absalom was hung for murder Arthur Jarvis.
Why did Kumalo go to the mountain?
Kumalo goes to the mountain because he is in emotional destress over his son Absalom's hanging.
Explain the significance of the fact that the book ends at sunrise.
The significance of the book ending with a sunrise is that it's a start of a new future. Yes, Absalom is dead and that's sad but he has a child on the way to help make this brighter future we see coming. The sunrise also means that thing can only get better from where they are.
The last paragraph of the novel speaks of "the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear."
Explain the relevance of this phrase.
The natives are scared they will be bound to the whites forever, so they have the fear of bondage. Whites are scared of not being bound to the natives, by having them as slaves. So this is the bondage of fear.
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