Cry, the Beloved Country

by Alan Paton

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Chapter 6 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 500

The next morning, Msimangu takes Kumalo to Claremont to find Gertrude. On the bus ride there, Msimangu explains that Claremont is a rough slum, and that its problems are compounded by the fact that there are a couple of white neighborhoods nearby. This, he says, leads to fighting between black and white hoodlums. And there are many hoodlums in Claremont; a large number of the children run wild in the streets without ever going to school.

During the bus ride, Msimangu also points out the building where a newspaper for black residents of Johannesburg, the Bantu Press, is published. The all-white government tightly controls the information published in this newspaper, so it "does not say all that could be said." According to Msimangu, Kumalo’s brother John calls the paper the Bantu Repress as a joke.

In Claremont, Msimangu shows Kumalo to Gertrude’s house and then politely retreats so that the siblings can speak alone. Kumalo approaches the house timidly, disliking the sound of the laughter he hears inside. He thinks of it as "bad laughter" because it sounds cynical and corrupt.

When Kumalo knocks on the front door, the laughter stops. Gertrude answers the door, and when she sees her brother she looks scared. Her friends rush to clean up something on the table that a priest should not see, and then they leave. She invites Kumalo inside, and he demands to know what has happened to her since she came to Johannesburg.

At first, Gertrude is hesitant to answer Kumalo’s questions. Because he is her older brother and a priest, she is obligated to treat him with respect. However, she cannot disguise her anger when he accuses her of making bad choices. She says she had no choices. Her husband is missing, and she has to provide for herself and her child in the only way she can.

As the conversation continues, Kumalo asks to see Gertrude’s child, and she admits that she does not know where he is. He is running around unsupervised among the street urchins in Claremont. This appalls Kumalo, so she sends some friends to find the boy.  

Kumalo says that Gertrude should come back home to Ndotsheni, where her family can care for her. She starts to cry, and she claims she wants nothing else. He offers to let her live with him at Mrs. Lithebe’s house until he is ready to leave Johannesburg, and she agrees.

Next, Kumalo asks about Absalom. Gertrude she says she heard from him when he first came to Johannesburg, but she does not know where he is now. However, she gives Kumalo one useful piece of information: she often saw him with his cousin, the son of John Kumalo.

That afternoon, Kumalo hires a truck to pick up Gertrude, her child, and her possessions. When they arrive at the boarding house, he feels pleased and proud:

One day in Johannesburg, and already the tribe was being rebuilt, the house and the soul restored.

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