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Why were Gertrude's and Abalom's girlfriend's laughter assumed bad/wrong? Was...

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ahopejarvis | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 8, 2010 at 3:35 AM via web

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Why were Gertrude's and Abalom's girlfriend's laughter assumed bad/wrong? Was something implied in Cry, the Beloved Country?

Basically... I'm wondering if Gertrude and Absalom's girlfriend were doing anything based off their previous promiscuity and the fact that Absalom's girlfriend was pregnant (hint towards sexual willingness?)

This question isn't really pertinent to the study of this novel in my AP class, but it has been bothering me for a while. Was the laughter from them doing something bad/wrong? (or naughty?...)

The laughter, mind you, was also heard earlier in the novel when Kumalo traveled to Gertrude's home and before she came to the door he heard it. (There was a man in her home?)

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lequam | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 16, 2010 at 12:41 PM (Answer #1)

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Paton is using the laughter of Gertrude and Absalom's girlfriend to symbolize the kind of lifestyle of which these two women had been a part.  It represents their loose morals and lifestyle.  When Gertrude goes to stay at the mission house with her brother, Stephen, she is not willing to change her lifestyle, and this unwillingness to change is shown by her careless laughter.  Absalom's girlfriend on the other hand does want to change, and when she is confronted about her laughter, she apologizes and changes.  This true change is evident in her moving to N'dotsheni with Stephen and his wife; whereas, Gertrude's unwillingness to change is shown in her abandoning her son and brother and returning to her life in the slums. 

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