Explain this statement from "Cry, the Beloved Country":  "Kumalo remembers Mpanza's son and is afraid to follow".

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mpanza's son was twelve years old when he went from his small village to Johannesburg with his mother to be at the bedside of his father who was dying.  Excited by the hustle and bustle of the city, he had "stepped out into danger" from a curb into traffic, and was run over by a big truck.  When he thinks of Mpanza's son, Kumalo himself is in Johannesburg for the first time, bewildered by the crowds and noise and vehicles all around him. 

"Cars and buses one behind the other, more than he has ever imagined.  The steam goes over the street, but remembering Mpanza's son, he is afraid to follow".

Kumalo knows that the streetlights change from red to green, and that when it is green, he may cross, but when he tries, "a great bus swings across the path".  Realizing that "there is some law of it that he does not understand...he retreats".  The image of Mpanza's son being crushed beneath the wheels of the lorry is engraved in his mind; Kumalo does not want the same thing to happen to him (Chapter 3).

Kumalo's terror is representative of the state of mind of thousands of rural natives who journeyed to the city in desperate need of work.  It was the mid-twentieth century, and apartheid had just been established in South Africa.  The natives, who sought employment in the mines above Johannesberg, were woefully unprepared for the type of life they encountered there.  Many could not make the adjustment, and were lost among the teeming, anonymous masses in the city.

 

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Cry, the Beloved Country

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