Msimangu's sermon lifts Kumalo's spirits and he is at peace once again.
Kumalo has come to Johannesburg, where he has found his sister living as a prostitute. He has also learned that his long-lost son Absalom has been involved in a crime which has resulted in the death of a white man. Kumalo, a priest, is devastated, and, in his despair, is "little inclined for speech, and show(s) little interest in anything about him." He wonders where he and his wife have failed, that their son should have come to such a state. After reflecting for awhile, Kumalo concludes that it is not Absalom's upbringing that has brought him to grief. The problem is bigger than that; the land can no longer sustain the people, and the young men and women have little choice but to leave their tribal home for the city, where there is perhaps opportunity, but also great potential for ruin. Kumalo is forced to admit that "the tribe (is) broken, and (will) be mended no more."
When Msimangu begins to read from the Bible and speak, Kumalo knows he is speaking to him. Msimangu speaks of a God who is faithful, and will keep His promise to renew the strength of "they that wait upon the Lord." Kumalo listens closely to what Msimangu is saying, and he is comforted. When the sermon is over, Kumalo goes to Msimangu and says, "Brother, I am recovered" (Chapter 13).