Cry, the Beloved Country

by Alan Paton

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What decisions does Kumalo make in Enzenzeleni in Cry, the Beloved Country?

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Chapter 13 when Kumalo accompanies his friend, Msimangu, to Ezenzeleni, the colony for the blind where whites work and help blacks who are blind or are going blind, is a turning point for Kumalo in lots of ways. Let us remember what kind of state of mind Kumalo is in before he goes. He has been overwhelmed by the social problems of South Africa in the cities. He has discovered that his sister has been working as a prostitute and that he has a nephew who has been born out of wedlock. He has also heard about the disturbing news of the murder of Arthur Jarvis, and feels a dread that somehow his son, Absalom, is responsible, even though he has no proof at this stage.

This puts him into a kind of depression as he comes to realise a central fact that he had been trying to ignore:

Yes - it was true, then. He had admitted it to himself. The tribe was broken, and would be mended no more. He bowed his head. It was as though a man borne upward into the air felt suddenly that the wings of miracle dropped away from him, so that he looked down upon the earth, sick with fear and apprehension. The tribe was broken, and would be mended no more.

Note how the use of repetition strengthens the idea of Kumalo trying to convince himself of this fact and the hopelessness of the situation.

Yet, as Msimangu preaches later on in this chapter to the community at Ezenzeleni, it is clear that Kumalo is restored by his words and given a new sense of hope. Although he feels he is suffering terribly, Kumalo is reminded of the strength of the God he believes him to sustain him and reinvigorate him for the trials ahead. He resolves to go back trusting in that strength for what he will face rather than in his own strength.

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