Cry, the Beloved Country

by Alan Paton

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What prompts Stephen Khumalo's journey to Johannesburg in Cry, the Beloved Country?

Quick answer:

Stephen Kumalo's journey to Johannesburg in Cry the Beloved Country is prompted by a letter that he receives informing him that his sister is unwell. This is underpinned by a desire to find his son who had gone to Johannesburg and never returned.

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Stephen Kumalo heads from his home in Ndotsheni to Johannesburg because he receives a letter from a minister. The letter explains that Stephen's sister, Gertrude, is unwell. As a minister himself, Stephen does not hesitate to go and help her when he learns that help is needed.

Despite the trip being both arduous and expensive, Stephen also hopes to find his son, Absalom, who had left for Johannesburg and never returned home. Visiting Johannesburg also gives Stephen the opportunity to see his brother, John, who is a politician and businessman.

I would argue that the factor which prompted Stephen to go to Johannesburg is to help various members of his family in any way that he can. This proves far more difficult than he could ever have imagined. He will have to come to terms with the fact that his sister has resorted to prostitution and selling alcohol to make a living. Over and above convincing Gertrude to come home, he endures the pain of learning that his son has spent time in reform school and is now a murderer.

Stephen takes further action to help his family, making arrangements for Absalom's pregnant girlfriend to become his daughter-in-law and return to Ndotsheni as part of the family. Everything he does is prompted by love and compassion for various members of his family.

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