In Cry, the Beloved Country, for what charge does Absalom's lawyer want him to plead guilty, and what does he ultimately plead?

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lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Absalom, a cousin, and a friend were attempting to rob Arthur Jarvis, and unfortunately, Absalom was carrying a gun for protection.  When Jarvis returned home unexpectedly, Absalom shot and killed him in a moment of panic and fear.  It wasn't truly an accident, but it wasn't a premeditated plan to kill the man.

The lawyer, Mr. Carmichael, wants Absalom to plead guilty to firing the gun "because he was afraid."  Unfortunately, the cousins get a very good lawyer and completely deny even being present when the incident occurs; they say they have no idea why Absalom is trying to bring them into this case.  It is a very challenging situation that is not likely to have a good outcome.

At the trial, Absalom wants to plead guilty to unintentional homicide--admitting to killing Jarvis, but not on purpose--not murder.  The problem is there is no charge of homicide, there is only a charge of murder, so Absalom pleads not guilty.  Unfortunately, the judge has no choice but to find Absalom guilty of the crime with which he is charged, murder.  The sentence for this crime is death.  It is a heart breaking reality of the South African law.