Already the knees are weak of the man who a moment since had shown his little vanity, told his little lie, before these respectful people.
As Kumalo boards the train to Johannesburg, he implies that he has been to Johannesburg many times before and feels familiar with the journey, even though this trip is really his first trip there. Kumalo has a strong moral compass, so this lie seems unusual, but as someone who lives as an authority in his village, he does not want to look as innocent and ignorant of the world as he is.
This thing, he said. This thing. Here in my heart there is nothing but fear. Fear, fear, fear.
While Kumalo and Msimangu look for Absalom, Kumalo expresses his fear over the situation to Msimangu. Although Kumalo seemed confident enough when he left for Johannesburg, he has found himself in a completely unfamiliar situation and does not know where his son is. Although Kumalo is a figure of power in Ndotsheni, here in Johannesburg he is like a lost and frightened child.
And Kumalo looks and sees that it is true, there is the father of the man who was murdered, the man who has the farm on the tops above Ndotsheni, the man he has seen riding past the church. And Kumalo trembles, and does not look at him any more. For how does one look at such a man?
After the trial, Kumalo catches sight of James Jarvis and cannot meet his eye out of the shame he feels for his son, Absalom, having killed Arthur Jarvis. Even though family is extremely important to Kumalo, he cannot forgive his son for his actions and seems to feel that he himself is just as responsible for Arthur’s death as Absalom.
The parson was old, and his black clothes were green with age, and his collar was brown with age or dirt. He took off his hat, showing the whiteness of his head, and he looked startled and afraid and he was trembling.
Here, readers get a description of Kumalo from James Jarvis’s perspective as they meet for the first time when Kumalo arrives at James Jarvis’s door. Although Kumalo is older, this description makes him seem weak as well and barely able to stand in the presence of James Jarvis. The journey and the dissolution of his family have taken what strength Kumalo had when he left home.
For all his prayers for the power to forgive, Kumalo desired to hurt his brother.
The narrator reveals how Kumalo feels as he and John have their final argument before Kumalo leaves Johannesburg. In this instance, readers may note how Kumalo’s value of family and religion is tested. John’s corrupting influence makes Kumalo so angry that he admits to wanting to physically harm his brother, showing that Kumalo is not the paragon of virtue that he often seems to be.