Cry for the broken tribe, for the law and the custom that is gone. Aye, and cry aloud for the man who is dead, for the woman and children bereaved. Cry, the beloved country. . . .See Important Quotations Explained
While waiting to go to Shanty Town, Kumalo spends time with Gertrude and her son. He and Gertrude have little to say to each other, but he takes comfort in telling his small nephew about Natal, and Gertrude finds a friend in Mrs. Lithebe. In Shanty Town, Kumalo and Msimangu ask a nurse about Absalom’s whereabouts. The nurse sends them to Mrs. Hlatshwayo, with whom Absalom was staying. She tells them that Absalom was sent to the reformatory. As they walk to the reformatory, Msimangu tries to comfort Kumalo, saying that he has heard good things about the reformatory. To Msimangu’s surprise, Kumalo asks him what he spoke about with Mrs. Mkize, Absalom’s landlady in Alexandra. Msimangu reveals that she told him that Absalom and John’s son often came home late with bundles of white people’s possessions.
At the reformatory, a young white man tells Msimangu and Kumalo that Absalom was a model student, but that he was discharged a month earlier because of his age, good behavior, and the frequent visits from his pregnant girlfriend. Despite Kumalo’s worry that the young man will be unsympathetic to a black man who speaks no Afrikaans, the young man is quite helpful. He promises to take Msimangu and Kumalo to Absalom’s new home in Pimville, where, the young man says, Absalom is saving money and preparing to marry his girlfriend.
The young man, Msimangu, and Kumalo go to Absalom’s house in Pimville, where Absalom’s girlfriend, still a child herself, tells them that Absalom left the house a few days earlier and has not yet returned. Kumalo asks her what she will do, but before she can respond, Msimangu speaks harshly to the girl and tells Kumalo that her problem is one that Kumalo cannot solve. When Kumalo protests that she carries his grandchild, Msimangu scoffs at the idea and wonders out loud how many other children Absalom may have. After informing them that Absalom has been absent from work for many days, the young man leaves them at the gates of Orlando, where Msimangu apologizes to Kumalo for his unkind words. Kumalo forgives him and asks Msimangu to take him back to the girl.
Msimangu persuades Kumalo to take a few days’ rest while Msimangu goes to Ezenzeleni, a colony for the blind. Kumalo and Msimangu then enjoy a quiet evening at the Mission House with Father Vincent, who listens to Kumalo’s stories of Natal and tells them about his native England. The tranquil evening is shattered, however, when another priest enters with a newspaper whose front page announces the murder of Arthur Jarvis, a white engineer and crusader for the rights of black South Africans. Jarvis, the paper reports, was at home with a cold when intruders knocked out his servant and shot him at close range. The paper states that there are no leads, but police hope the unconscious servant will be able to furnish some information upon awakening. The paper also states that Jarvis was in the midst of writing his treatise on “The Truth About Native Crime” when he was murdered. The article closes by saying that Jarvis leaves behind a widow and two children—a nine-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter.
Kumalo remembers seeing Arthur as a boy, small and bright, with his father—the Jarvis farm overlooks Ndotsheni. He is weighed down by a sudden, inexplicable fear. Msimangu tries to reassure him that the odds of any connection between Absalom and the murder are small, but Kumalo is inconsolable and too tired even to pray.
A speaker notes that no one can enjoy the beauty of South Africa amid so much violence. The speaker adds that throughout the nation, thousands of voices cry out what must be done. This speaker argues that there should be more police, and another speaker argues that if black Africans had more rights, there would be less crime. Some advocate that more schools be built in the black districts, where fewer than half the children go to school, but others say that schooling blacks only produces criminals who are more clever. The pass laws, which require native South Africans to carry permits in white areas, might work, says one man, but his friend counters that these laws can’t be enforced and imprison innocent people. Some argue for greater segregation, others for greater education and opportunities. Disagreement is the only certainty, and the white population lives barricaded behind their fear.