Cry, the Beloved Country

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Cry, the Beloved Country Book I, Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The train passes through many towns and communities – some magnificent, some broken and sick. Then, Stephen changes trains and soon the names of the towns they are passing through become unfamiliar because they’re in Afrikaans, a language that he has never heard spoken. Around him, people talk about the mines. Stephen sees the gold mines, in the distance, and asks the other passengers about them. They explain how the mines work, and Stephen is thrilled by the newness of it. He asks if this is Johannesburg. The passengers laugh, and begin to describe the hugeness of Johannesburg. Stephen insists that this must be Johannesburg, as more and more building and vehicles and machines rush by the train. Then, one of the men points and shows Stephen Johannesburg. He sees buildings and glittering, confusing advertisements, and is filled with fear.
Through the train, the many states of the South African land are visible. Stephen is being transported into a whole new world, once with gold mines and a new language. Stephen’s ignorance of what he is looking at is betrayed quickly to the other passengers, but as they are not the people with whom he boarded, his deception is unnoticed. Stephen is overwhelmed by the glitz and bustle of this new place.
Themes
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
The train stops at the station, full of thousands of people. There is so much noise. Stephen sees a street full of cars, but remembering the child run over by the car, is afraid to cross it. He tries to cross, is almost hit by a bus, and retreats to a wall to pretend as if he’s waiting for someone. He feels like a child. He prays as he stands.
Stephen exits the trains and becomes one of many on the street. He is afraid and feels like a child—he doesn’t even know where to begin. He turns to God for guidance.
Themes
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Christian Faith Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
Suddenly, a young man approaches Stephen. The young man speaks to him in a language Stephen does not recognize. Then the young man switches to Stephen’s language, Zulu, and asks him where he wants to go. When Stephen tells him, the young man offers to buy Stephen a ticket from the ticket office while he waits in line. Stephen gives him some money and waits. After a while, he realized he doesn’t see the young man anymore. When he asks an older man where the ticket office is, the man explains that there is no ticket office, and that Stephen has been cheated. The man helps Stephen get to Mission House on the bus, where he arrives exhausted but grateful to be secure and safe.
Stephen puts his trust in the first person who appears and speaks to him, even though this person ends up cheating him out of money, reemphasizing how little he knows about this place. His prayer, however, is answered—he happens upon a kind person who shows him how to get exactly where he needs to go.
Themes
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Christian Faith Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon