Cry, the Beloved Country

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Cry, the Beloved Country Book II, Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The nameless narrator returns to the hills above Ixopo, repeating the same praises and description of the earth as in Chapter 1. But instead of looking down, the narrator shows High Place, the farm of James Jarvis.
A different view of the valley, from a different person’s life—that of a white farmer, who lives high in the hills rather than down near the village, and who has money and land.
Themes
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
James observes the plowing of his fields. There is a drought, and the earth is dry and hard. As he walks, he worries about the people in the valley below, their inability to farm well, especially given the drought. He muses about how the weather and the economy are really stacked against them. As he looks at the gorgeous view, he notices a police car approaching the house.
The drought is a physical manifestation of the problems plaguing the land—not a direct cause, but a metaphor. We as the reader know why that police car is approaching even though Jarvis doesn't, building dramatic tension in the scene.
Themes
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
When he arrives home, the policeman is there. He gives James the bad news—his son Arthur has been murdered that very afternoon, shot dead in Johannesburg by a burglar. Stupefied by this news, James sits down and tries to process what to do next. The officer offers to help get James and his wife, Margaret, to Johannesburg. James realizes that Margaret doesn’t know about their son’s death yet, but is likely watching this interaction and realizing that something is wrong. He asks if the man responsible has been caught, but the officer tells him “Not yet.” James goes inside to tell his wife the bad news while the officer uses the phone. In the next room, Margaret begins to weep.
Margaret’s weeping, which comes immediately after learning about the loss of her son, is an interesting contrast to the actions of Stephen’s wife when she also learns that her son is lost. Stephen’s wife, having accepted a lifetime of suffering, is full of sorrow but stoic. Margaret, presumably less understanding of this reality, is less hardened.
Themes
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon