Study Guide

Cry, the Beloved Country

by Alan Paton

Cry, the Beloved Country Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

The Reverend Stephen Kumalo

The Reverend Stephen Kumalo (kew-MAH-loh), a Zulu who is an educated man and an Anglican priest. He lives in the country and is unused to the ways of the city and its people. Even so, he goes to Johannesburg to help his sister and find his son. He does his best, which is not enough, to help his relatives. When his son is executed, he cries out for help—for his land and his people as well as for his son.

Gertrude

Gertrude, the clergyman’s sister. She has become a prostitute and dealer in illegal liquor in Johannesburg.

John

John, the clergyman’s brother in Johannesburg, a practical man and a successful merchant. As a native politician, he is disturbed by the police and kept under their surveillance. He is a selfish man; he has also abandoned the Christian faith.

Absalom

Absalom, the clergyman’s son. He is a country boy ruined by white ways in the city. He drinks, commits adultery, and steals, at last killing a man who is an activist for the natives, trying to help them improve their condition. Found guilty of the crime, Absalom is sentenced to hang. His one act of goodness is to marry the woman who carries his unborn child.

Arthur Jarvis

Arthur Jarvis, Absalom’s victim, a young white man who works hard to help the natives improve their lot in Africa. There is irony in his death at the hands of one of the natives he wants to spend his life helping.

Msimangu

Msimangu (ihm-see-MAHN-gew), a native Anglican clergyman in Johannesburg. He is a good man who tries to help Stephen Kumalo find his people and understand them.

Mr. Jarvis

Mr. Jarvis, Arthur Jarvis’ father. He carries on his son’s work for the natives by bringing milk for their children, farm machinery, an agricultural demonstrator, good seed, and a dam to provide water for irrigation. He even becomes Kumalo’s friend after they have both lost their sons, one a murderer and the other his victim.

Cry, the Beloved Country Themes and Characters

The underlying theme of Cry, the Beloved Country, as in all of Paton's works, involves the unifying power of love and the divisive...

(The entire section is 1096 words.)

Cry, the Beloved Country Characters

The novel teems with a multitude of characters of all ethnic backgrounds, creeds and colors. A sensitive reader of Cry, the Beloved Country...

(The entire section is 1375 words.)

Cry, the Beloved Country Character Analysis

Reverend Stephen Kumalo

Stephen Kumalo is a Zulu clergyman and pastor of St. Mark's Church in a rural district of South Africa. He journeys to Johannesburg because...

(The entire section is 442 words.)

James Jarvis

James Jarvis is a white landowner and father of Arthur, Absalom Kumalo's victim. Jarvis's estate is adjacent to the village where Stephen...

(The entire section is 334 words.)

Reverend Theophilus Msimangu

Reverend Theophilus Msimangu is a clergyman at the Mission House in Sophiatown, Johannesburg. A bit of a cynic, Msimangu is extraordinarily...

(The entire section is 259 words.)

Other Characters

Mr. Carmichael
Mr. Carmichael is a tall, grave, white man brought to Rev. Kumalo by Father Vincent. He agrees to take...

(The entire section is 1322 words.)