page 1 of 2
Kumalo and Msimangu travel to Ezenzeleni, a colony where white South Africans care for blind black South Africans. Msimangu has work to do here, so Kumalo sits by himself for some time and meditates. The thoughts of his grandson being born out of wedlock, his son’s thievery, and the murder bring him to despair, but he takes heart at the thought of returning to Ndotsheni with new humility. Kumalo’s newfound high spirits evaporate as he admits to himself that the ways of the tribe have been lost forever. When Msimangu returns and finds Kumalo in despair, Msimangu reminds Kumalo that despair is a sin.
Kumalo is comforted by the help given to the blind in Ezenzeleni and especially by Msimangu’s rousing sermon to the blind. He knows that Msimangu speaks to him when he says God will not forsake humankind. Some people criticize Msimangu for using his preaching gifts to teach patience while so many of his people die, but Kumalo feels spiritually refreshed.
Gertrude’s furniture, the final remnants of her past, are sold at a great profit, but Kumalo feels only fear when he sees Msimangu approach Mrs. Lithebe’s house with the young man from the reformatory. The man tells him that his fears have been justified, that Absalom is in jail for the murder of Arthur Jarvis and that Absalom fired the shot. John’s son was with Absalom during the crime, and Kumalo goes to break the news to his brother. Devastated by the news, John goes with Kumalo to the mission, where Father Vincent offers them help, and the young man from the reformatory leads them to the prison.
In the prison’s visiting room, Kumalo and Absalom are finally reunited, but Absalom cannot look his father in the eye. He shifts and squirms and blames his condition on bad company and the devil, to Kumalo’s disgust, and tears up when the young man reproaches him for rejecting the lessons of the reformatory. Absalom states that he shot Jarvis, but he explains that he fired only because he was afraid, and maintains that he still wants to marry his girlfriend.
At the prison gates, Kumalo meets John again, but John is no longer in despair. He will get his son a lawyer, he says, adding that there is no proof that his son was even present at the time of the murder. Kumalo, John cruelly states, will not need a lawyer—his son is guilty and cannot be saved. The young man, embittered by his disappointment with Absalom, refuses to advise Kumalo and defiantly asserts that his work at the reformatory is important. He drives off, John leaves on foot, and Kumalo is left alone. Father Vincent, he decides, is his only hope.
Before Kumalo can seek out Father Vincent, the man from the reformatory returns to apologize for his harsh language. He advises Kumalo that he will need a lawyer because John is untrustworthy. He says they need someone who will make sure John’s claim that his son was not there does not hurt Absalom, and who will argue that Absalom fired because he was afraid.
Take a Study Break!