In Cry, The Beloved Country, what does Kumalo plan to do with Gertrude and her young son?

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Kumalo is reunited with his sister, Gertrude, and her son, in Chapter 6 of this novel that is focussed on pre-apartheid South Africa. When he comes to where Gertrude is working, it is clear that she is living as a prostitute and her son is uncared for and left to fend for himself. Stephen Kumalo is very harsh with his sister and says that she has shamed him and their family. However, he also states his intention of taking her and her son back to Ndotsheni to rejoin the tribe and the land that is theirs. Note what he says to Gertrude about taking her son back to the village:

It will be better forĀ theĀ child, he said. He will go to a place where the wind blows, and where there is a school for him.

Note how this ties in with a much larger theme in the novel - Kumalo's attempts to go against the tide of what is happening in South Africa and his desire to rebuild the tribe. Consider how this chapter ends:

Kumalo himself was light-hearted and gay like a boy, more so than he had been for years. One day in Johannesburg, and already the tribe was being rebuilt, the house and the soul restored.

Of course, as Stephen and the reader comes to discover, this is false optimism. The difficulties facing the rebuilding of the tribe are illustrated by Absalom's murder and Gertrude's escape and return to a life of prostitution. Kumalo has much to learn about the difficulties facing his people in this new and dangerous South Africa.

Read the study guide:
Cry, the Beloved Country

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