Cry, the Beloved Country

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Arthur Jarvis Character Analysis

– The man murdered by Absalom Kumalo. The novel never shows Arthur while he is alive, but portrays his character through his many papers and correspondences read by Arthur’s father, James. He was an activist who believed that white men had done the black population a great disservice by tearing apart their communities and giving them an unfairly paltry amount of land, leading to the epidemic of violence and fear that now plague South Africa.

Arthur Jarvis Quotes in Cry, the Beloved Country

The Cry, the Beloved Country quotes below are all either spoken by Arthur Jarvis or refer to Arthur Jarvis. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
).
Book II, Chapter 20 Quotes

The old tribal system was, for all its violence and savagery, for all its superstition and witchcraft, a moral system. Our natives today produce criminals and prostitutes and drunkards, not because it is their nature to do so, but because their simple system of order and tradition and convention has been destroyed. It was destroyed by the impact of our own civilization. Our civilization has therefore an inescapable duty to set up another system of order and tradition and convention. It is true that we hoped to preserve the tribal system by a policy of segregation. That was permissible. But we never did it thoroughly or honestly. We set aside one-tenth of the land for four-fifths of the people. Thus we made it inevitable, and some say we did it knowingly, that labour would come to the towns. We are caught in the toils of our own selfishness.

Related Characters: Arthur Jarvis (speaker)
Related Symbols: Johannesburg, Money/Gold, Earth/Land
Book II, Chapter 24 Quotes

One can read, as I read when I was a boy, the brochures about lovely South Africa, that land of sun and beauty sheltered from the storms of the world, and feel pride in it and love for it, and yet know nothing about it at all. It is only as one grows up that one learns that there are other things here than sun and gold and oranges. It is only then that one learns of the hates and fears of our country. It is only then that one's love grows deep and passionate, as a man may love a woman who is true, false, cold, loving, cruel and afraid.

Related Characters: Arthur Jarvis (speaker)
Related Symbols: Earth/Land
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Arthur Jarvis Character Timeline in Cry, the Beloved Country

The timeline below shows where the character Arthur Jarvis appears in Cry, the Beloved Country. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book I, Chapter 11
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
The priests who knew the deceased, Arthur Jarvis, openly mourn his loss. They say that he was a good man. Father Vincent... (full context)
Book I, Chapter 12
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...lament how their taxes have not gone to keeping them safe, that the death of Arthur Jarvis is the second murder in six months. A voice asks a citizen to read... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...for dealing with “native” crime, including a symposium on the issue, at which the late Arthur Jarvis was to be a speaker. (full context)
Book I, Chapter 14
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...to him. Inside, the bad news is revealed: it was Absalom who shot and killed Arthur Jarvis, and his cousin, John’s son, was one of the accomplices. The white man says... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...was him, and Absalom says that he confessed. He says that he was startled by Arthur, and shot him by accident. Stephen continues to press him, and the man from the... (full context)
Book II, Chapter 18
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... (full context)
Book II, Chapter 19
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...Margaret's insistence, James heads right to the mortuary. While driving, Harrison brings up the paper Arthur had been writing when he died—“The Truth About Native Crime.” James admits that he and... (full context)
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...up with Mr. Harrison, John’s father, to talk. Mr. Harrison regales James with tales of Arthur’s many accomplishments and projects, and his commitment to the plight of the South African black... (full context)
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...goes to bed. Upstairs, Margaret is awake. James recounts her with Mr. Harrison’s stories about Arthur. He seems pained by the fact that he knew so little about his son, but... (full context)
Book II, Chapter 20
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
The next day, the police take James to his son Arthur’s house. There, he begins to go through his many papers and books. He marvels at... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
James discovers a few pages of a manuscript that Arthur was working on, in which he decried the mining practices so typical in South Africa,... (full context)
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...the book with him. As he is leaving, he accidently goes through the corridor where Arthur was killed. (full context)
Book II, Chapter 21
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
Christian Faith Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
Arthur’s funeral is held a few days later. The church is filled with people from every... (full context)
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...was good to talk to him. Mr. Harrison reiterates that though he didn’t agree with Arthur, he respected him deeply. (full context)
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
Christian Faith Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...day, James awakes to the news that the servant who had been knocked unconscious at Arthur’s home was awake and had identified some details about the killer that was leading them... (full context)
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
Mid-sentence, the manuscript ends. James ponders the ideas that Arthur had written there, and feels like he is beginning to understand him better. Then, James... (full context)
Book II, Chapter 22
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...the servant was home, and how they had to knock him unconscious. And then how Arthur came downstairs, and how, in fear, Absalom had shot him. (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
After talking about Arthur’s death and Absalom and his accomplices’ subsequent flight, the judge interrupts the prosecutor and asks... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Christian Faith Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...when the police came searching for one of his co-conspirators, Absalom confessed to having shot Arthur, since he had repented for his sin and had sworn to not do evil again. (full context)
Book II, Chapter 24
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
James returns to Arthur’s house. He goes through the passage again, the one where Arthur had been killed, with... (full context)
The Land and the Tribe Theme Icon
Racism and Apartheid Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...but then returns to the study and papers and finishes reading them. In the papers, Arthur asserts that he is compelled by rightness to do good by his country, compelled by... (full context)
Book II, Chapter 25
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...seeing him. Stephen hesitates, and finally reveals that it was his son, Absalom, who murdered Arthur. James leaves for a moment, walks into the garden for a long moment, and then... (full context)
Book II, Chapter 28
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...other two men in question, Absalom’s cousin and the other accomplice. Despite the fact that Arthur’s struck-down servant identified one of them, the judge maintains that this evidence is not conclusive,... (full context)
Book II, Chapter 29
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...leaves a large sum of money to John Harrison to start a club, possibly in Arthur Jarvis’s name. (full context)
Book III, Chapter 31
The City vs. Nature Theme Icon
Christian Faith Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Families Theme Icon
Understanding/Knowledge vs. Ignorance/Naiveté Theme Icon
...house. Stephen invites him inside. Stephen knows who the boy is—he recognizes the son of Arthur Jarvis, grandson of James Jarvis. The boy asks for ice-cold milk, and when Stephen explains... (full context)