Cry, the Beloved Country

by Alan Paton

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Chapter 30 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 560

Kumalo makes the long journey home with his pregnant daughter-in-law and Gertrude’s child. On the way, the girl is excited and eager to hear about the places they pass. On the final train, they begin to meet people Kumalo knows. Many of these people ask about the girl and the child. He has not yet decided how to answer them, so he gets out his Bible and reads it to show that he does not want to chat.

At the train station, Kumalo’s wife and his friend are waiting to meet the train. Kumalo greets them and then tells his wife the latest news about their son’s death sentence and Gertrude’s last-minute disappearance. His wife bears the bad news well and then greets the child, telling him that she will be his mother from now on. She also greets the girl, who is clearly thrilled by the welcome. She brings Kumalo and his wife “comfort in…desolation.”

Kumalo and the others walk down into the valley toward Ndotsheni, which is even more broken by drought than it was when he left. Kumalo comments that he does not hear the stream, and his friend says it has dried up. Now the women have to walk to the river every day to get water. The corn is not growing well, and nobody knows what the villagers are going to eat in the coming months.

In spite of this bad news, Kumalo’s homecoming is joyful. As he walks home, he hears people all over the village shouting the news of his return. Everyone welcomes him, and they all come straight to the church to see him. He greets them and leads a prayer, asking God’s grace for them, for the land, and for the people he met in Johannesburg.

During his prayer, Kumalo says that he hopes everyone in Ndotsheni will welcome his daughter-in-law and nephew. He also prays aloud for God to forgive his sister Gertrude and his son, Absalom. In this way, he gives the whole village a basic sense of what happened in Johannesburg, and he shows that he does not intend to hide his shame.

After the prayer, Kumalo takes his friend aside and explains in detail what happened with his son and his sister. He instructs his friend to tell the story to anyone who wants to know. He has decided that it would not be right to keep these things secret. 

However, Kumalo is still struggling to accept his family’s mistakes, and he asks his friend how the people will trust a priest whose son is a murderer and whose sister is a prostitute who abandoned her child. His friend says that people respect Kumalo and love him, and that nobody blames him.

These words comfort Kumalo somewhat. He says that he still believes in God, and he is amazed by the “kindness and love” in the world even though he struggles to understand the “pain and suffering.” His friend replies that Christians have to suffer like anyone else:

For our Lord suffered. And I come to believe that he suffered….to teach us how to bear suffering.

Before his friend leaves, Kumalo informs him that Sibeko’s daughter is still lost. Accepting this news, the friend goes to speak to Sibeko and to tell Kumalo’s story as well.

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