Cry, the Beloved Country

Study Questions

1. After the first day of learning about his sons death, Jarvis falls asleep pondering the idea that he had not interacted more with his son, and that he did not understand him that well. Does this give an insight into the relationship of Jarvis and his son, and if so explain? Does this show the human feeling of regret after a major catastrophe in someone's life, and how do you feel this has affected Jarvis?
         Explanation: As the story evolves the reader begins to notice the distance in the relationship between James and Arthur Jarvis. James's constant distress after his son's death over the brevity in his relationship with his son can easily be justified. In Arthur's Article about life  growing up in South Africa, his perception of his father is distant and that of a stranger, he also is quick to judge that his parents were unsuccessful in teaching him about his home country. The fact that Arthur flt this way and the fact that James never knew how his own son felt about his childhood demonstrates the lack of communication they shared. This also correlates to Kumalo who lost contact to all his family members after they left for Johannesburg. Jarvis was obviously very self-conscious about the disruption in their relationship due to this sudden catastrophe. Before he was told that his on was dead, he was happy and peaceful and he only momentarily pondered how his son had moved  away, yet after Arthur's death, the only thing that James can focus on was his inability to connect with his own son.

2. When Kumalo goes to the Smith's house to inquire about a particular housemaid, he contacts Jarvis and tells him that it was his son who had killed Jarvis's son. At first Jarvis is awestruck and walks away, but quickly realizes his wrong and comes back. Do you think that Jarvis's ability to forgive Kumalo so easily really portrays Jarvis's character? Can you compare and contrast Kumalo and Jarvis's situation, one having a son killed and the other knowing your son is a murderer?

            Explanation: Jarvis's character is that of a mild-tempered, well-anchored man. He is never easily flustered. Even when told of his own son's death he kept his composure and instead of weeping in despair, began to move forward and deal with how his wife would take it. Of course when Kumalo came to him telling him that it was Kumalo's son that had killed Arthur, Jarvis could have easily become outraged, but instead he came back and talked Kumalo. This was most likely because Jarvis could relate to Kumalo's situation. They both were losing their sons in a way. Jarvis literally lost his son to death, while Kumalo a minister lost the thought of his son as a moral human being, now as a sinner, as well as the fact that his son's sentence would not be light.

3. At the end of the 27th chapter Gertrude debates becoming a nun. She is disappointed when reminded she has a son. She quickly considers giving her son away.  After all the horrible things she has done she is willing to give up her baby. How do you think this portrays Gertrude in a whole using the information already provided from the beginning of the novel?

            Explanation: Gertrude's life began falling apart as soon as she arrived in Johannesburg. Unable to find work, she began prostituting herself in an attempt to create an income. She had been doing this for years, all while she took care of a small child at home. Her irresponsibility is clear, and she forces others to have to look out for her. Kumalo had to come from Ndotsheni, since she was in such a bad shape, and Mrs. Lithebe had to scold her when she began acting like a child. The only real progress the audience can determine from Gertrude is her desire to become a nun, where she can repent all the sins she has committed. Yet even this idea shows how immature and irresponsible Gertrude is. As a mother she felt that it would be permissible to hand her baby off to Absalom's girlfriend, who already was expecting a baby and had never cared for a child before. Gertude's childishness and immaturity are what most likely caused her to become a nun.