Summary — Chapter 30

The trains carry Kumalo, Absalom’s wife, and Gertrude’s son back to Ndotsheni. They are greeted warmly, and Kumalo’s wife refers to the young girl as her daughter. As they walk to Kumalo’s home, they encounter people from the village who tell Kumalo how happy they are to have their umfundisi back. They confess that they are worried about the drought that is starving their crops. A friend tells Kumalo that the Jarvises have returned and that the villagers are aware of what Absalom has done.

When Kumalo arrives at his church, he finds a gathering of followers already assembled, and he leads them in a prayer. He asks for rain, for the welcome of Absalom’s wife and Gertrude’s son, and for forgiveness for Gertrude and Absalom. After the service, he speaks with his friend from the railroad station. Kumalo tells his friend all about Gertrude and Absalom. He says that since the news will soon be known, his friend should spread the word. Kumalo worries that he is too disgraced to lead his congregation, but his friend assures him otherwise. When his friend asks about Sibeko’s daughter, Kumalo tells his friend that the girl is lost. Kumalo comes home in time to wish Absalom’s wife goodnight, then sits up with his wife discussing Msimangu’s gift and other, sadder matters.

Summary — Chapter 31

Kumalo prays that his village can be restored. He visits the village chief, but he cannot share in the chief’s optimism, as it is all too clear that the white men made the chiefs powerless and left mere figureheads in their place. The chief shares Kumalo’s concern about the departure of the young people of the village for Johannesburg but has no new ideas about how to change things, and he concludes the interview by sadly resolving to try to bring these issues up with the local magistrate once more. Kumalo visits the school headmaster, but he fears that the headmaster’s teachings about farming are more academic than practical. He considers them pleasant theories that do not prevent the valley from drying up and its children from dying.

As Kumalo mulls over his disappointments, Arthur’s son rides by on horseback. He is staying with his grandfather. He greets Kumalo with uncustomary politeness and asks to see his home. The boy asks for a drink of milk, but there is no milk in Ndotsheni. He asks what children do without milk, and Kumalo tells him that some children are dying. The small boy practices his Zulu with Kumalo and rides off.

That evening, a worker from Jarvis’s farm delivers milk to be given to all of the small children in Ndotsheni. Overwhelmed by the suddenness of this gift, Kumalo laughs until he is sore.

Summary — Chapter 32

Four letters are delivered to Kumalo’s household. One, from Mr. Carmichael, explains that Absalom will not be given mercy and will be hanged that month. Another is from Absalom. Kumalo and his wife read this letter together. Absalom writes that he is comfortable in the Pretoria prison and is being ministered to by a priest, but he knows now that he must die. He writes simply and directly about his life in prison and states that he now understands that he belongs in Ndotsheni. The third letter is from Absalom for his wife. The fourth letter is from Msimangu, and when Kumalo reads Msimangu’s descriptions of Johannesburg, he is surprised to find himself missing the city.