Cry, the Beloved Country

by Alan Paton

Start Free Trial

How does Paton introduce the character of Stephen Kumalo in the second chapter?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The famous novel Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton tells the story of a black pastor in South Africa, Reverend Stephen Kumalo, who journeys from a remote village to the city of Johannesburg to search for his son Absalom.

In the second chapter, readers learn a lot about Kumalo's character as Paton introduces him. First of all, we learn about his compassion. When a small child delivers a letter to him, his primary concern is not about the letter but the child. He asks if the child is hungry, and upon learning that she is, he sends her off to the kitchen to find food.

We also learn that he is married, that he and his wife have a son, and that the son has gone off to Johannesburg and has not returned. We learn that he has a brother named John, a carpenter who lives in Johannesburg, and a sister named Gertrude who took her young child with her to Johannesburg to look for her husband.

In the way that Kumalo and his wife react to the letter that the child has brought, we learn that they do not receive letters very often, that they are worried about their son and anxious to hear from him, and that this letter may be very important. We can discern these things because instead of opening the letter right away, they discuss it and its possible contents first, as if they are apprehensive about what it might say.

After Kumalo and his wife read the letter, we learn of his deep concern for his sister who is sick, but even more for his son in Johannesburg who has not written to them. In this short chapter, Paton is able to introduce Kumalo as a man who is concerned, compassionate, and devoted to his family.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team