James Jarvis's story parallels that of Stephen Kumalo, with the exception that Jarvis's son is dead while Kumalo's son is just in trouble. Jarvis is a white, English-speaking farmer who lives on a hill, called High Place, above Ndotsheni. When the novel begins, Jarvis is complacent slightly laid back, and relaxed about life. His entire life drastically flips upon hearing the news that his son has died. He goes to stay with his son’s in-laws, the Harrison's, in Johannesburg, where he discovers his son's unique leadership qualities, and riveting essays. As he hears all the wonderful things his son has done, Jarvis understands how separated he and Arthur
Trying to make up for lost time, Jarvis begins reading many of Arthur's writings to understand what his son had transformed into. Jarvis gains a keen interest in a boys club that Arthur and Harrison helped transform. He is amazed at the quality of his son's writing yet alos offended by the content of some of Arthur's writings. Changed by his visit to Johannesburg, he returns to Ndotssheni a newe, more empathetic man. He donates milk to the young children of the village, arranges to have a dam built to irrigate the soil better, and hires a farming expert to help educate the farmers on how to care for the land. Jarvis is even more strained after the loss of his wife, yet he overcomes it to donate to her the new church she had always wanted. It is clear that Jarvis underwent many major and difficult losses yet his ability to surpass these obstacles and move on really characterize Jarvis. Although he had to sacrifice his money, image, and reputation, he understood it was for the common good, and was able to turn these ideas into action.