Stephen goes with Msimangu to a home for the blind. As Stephen waits for Msimangu to complete his duties there, Stephen sits in the sun and meditates on Absalom, Absalom's girlfriend, and their unborn child. Stephen wonders what he and his wife had done to create such a son, but then considers that that is the power of Johannesburg.
Stephen himself sees Johannesburg as a symbol—a symbol of all the ways that his society has gone wrong.
As he thinks, Stephen comes to the realization that the tribe truly is broken, and cannot be fixed. When Msimangu returns, Stephen confesses that he is full of “fear and pain.” Msimangu says that if he keeps thinking that way, not only will be go crazy, but he will be sinning, because despair is a sin.
Christianity is shown here as the one thing that can withstand the awful degradation of society. It is only through faith that Stephen and Msimangu are able to face the unsolvable, unfixable problems they see.
Stephen spends the rest of the afternoon with the blind patients. He listens to Msimangu’s service to them. The words of God are comforting to Stephen, and after the service, he lets him know that his words touched him, deeply, and gave him relief. Msimangu is pleased, and tells Stephen to give thanks, because he had been worried that it was going to be impossible to reach him.
Stephen’s faith, despite its flaws, can be restored with the words of other men of God.