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Comment on the change in Jarvis in Chapter 24 of Cry, the Beloved Country.

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reedself | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 17, 2013 at 10:03 PM via web

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Comment on the change in Jarvis in Chapter 24 of Cry, the Beloved Country.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 7, 2013 at 5:50 AM (Answer #1)

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The character of Jarvis is shown before Chapter 24 to be a character who is typically white and South African in terms of his prejudices against black South Africans and his view of what is wrong with South African society. However, in Chapter 24, he goes into his dead son's study and reads the document that his son was writing before he was killed, and realises something of how his son had changed his ideas and saw South Africa. His son wrote that he had learned "nothing at all" about South Africa from his parents, even though they did a good job in raising him. This lack of knowledge about his home causes him to devote his life to the service of South Africa. Note something of what he writes:

I shall no longer ask myself if this or that is expedient, but only if it is right. I shall do this, not because I am noble or unselfish, but because life slips away, and because I need for the rest of my journey a star that will not play false to me, a compass that will not lie. 

It is this declaration of his son's that has such a profound impact on Jarvis, and makes him see his own country with different eyes. In particular, it is this that makes him seek out the father of his son's killer and gives him the desire to want to help do what he can to change the sufferings of the black people in their villages through hiring a development worker and giving the children milk. Jarvis in this text is a man who is transformed through his son's death, and embraces a much more understanding and conciliatory attitude towards South Africa and its problems that he possessed before. 

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