Cry, the Beloved Country

by Alan Paton

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Chapter 35 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 534

The new agricultural demonstrator has begun his work, and the people of Ndotsheni are already doing things differently. To prevent erosion, they are plowing around the hills instead of straight over them. To improve the quality of the soil, they are collecting dung to use for fertilizer.

There has been some resistance to the changes, especially from the man who had to give up his land as a site for the new reservoir. (This reservoir is being built on the site where the white people pounded sticks into the ground.) This man was given a different plot of land somewhere else, but he does not think it is quite as good, so he is angry all the time. Next year, a couple of other men will have to give up their land so that the village can raise hay. That will create resentment too. And nobody has even started thinning the cattle herds. That will be the hardest battle of all.

The agricultural demonstrator keeps warning Kumalo that the land will not be healed quickly, even with all this work. The villagers are planting fast-growing trees to use for fuel, but it will be seven years before the wood is ready. In the meantime, the villagers must refrain from burning the cows’ dung during the winter: they will be cold and uncomfortable. Kumalo understands, but he tells the younger man that the people will do what needs to be done.

During this conversation, the agricultural demonstrator comments that it will be good when Ndotsheni no longer has to accept gifts of milk from Jarvis. This comment, with its implied suggestion that it is bad to receive help from a white person, makes Kumalo angry. He tells the younger man to be more respectful toward the person who pays him.

The agricultural demonstrator says that he is grateful to Jarvis for hiring him, but he also points out that white people are to blame for taking most of the land for themselves in the first place. If the tribes still had control over all of South Africa's land, it would not be so difficult to get the land to provide for everyone. The land in Ndotsheni will improve, but an area so small will never support a large population. No matter how healthy the valley becomes, some of Ndotsheni’s children will still have to move away when they grow up.

Kumalo does not particularly like hearing this, but he admits that it is probably true. He cannot really think beyond the work the agricultural demonstrator is doing now, but the younger man says excitedly that he is not working just for Jarvis or even just for a paycheck. He does what he does “for the land and the people.”

This thinking impresses Kumalo, but he also thinks he is “too old for new and disturbing thoughts” of this kind. He encourages the younger man to keep his high-minded convictions, but to avoid hating anyone or seeking power for himself. Kumalo has learned that love and humility are the most important qualities in a leader.

The agricultural demonstrator promises to remember Kumalo’s words. “For there is enough hating in our land already,” he says.

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Chapter 34 Summary


Chapter 36 Summary