Cry, the Beloved Country

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Cry, the Beloved Country Book I, Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Msimangu tells Stephen that he should rest for the next few days, while he and the man from the reformatory do some work in locating Absalom. Stephen agrees. That evening, as all of the priests are conversing, a priest comes in with a newspaper bearing the headline “MURDER IN PARKWOLD. WELL KNOWN CITY ENGINEER SHOT DEAD. ASSAILANTS THOUGHT TO BE NATIVES.”
Foreshadowing: though Stephen doesn’t realize it, this headline spells out Absalom’s downfall. Stephen will have no time to rest.
Themes
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
The priests who knew the deceased, Arthur Jarvis, openly mourn his loss. They say that he was a good man. Father Vincent suggests to Stephen that he may know the dead man’s parents, for they live in Carisbrooke, near Ixopo. Stephen knows the parents, and has vague memories of their young, “bright” son. The article reports that Arthur Jarvis’s family was away on a brief vacation when thieves broke into the house, not realizing that someone was home. Arthur Jarvis, in the middle of working on his manuscript, was shot once and killed. He left behind a wife – Mary Jarvis – and two children. At the end of the article, his interest in the well-being of the black community is noted.
Stephen recognizes the name and memory of the dead man, and knows of his family. His senseless death is tragic regardless of the details, but the details are going to cause Stephen much suffering. The brokenness of the land and tribe has taken the life of someone who wanted to mend it—this is the cycle of violence in action.
Themes
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
As he walks back to Mrs. Lithebe’s, Stephen confesses to Msimangu that he is still full of fear. Msimangu offers to pray with Stephen, but Stephen says he does not feel like praying. As he walks away, Msimangu muses that sometimes it really does feel like God is not around.
Stephen senses that there is something to be afraid of, but is not certain what it is. The awfulness of Johannesburg has shaken even his faith.
Themes
Christian Faith Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon