Mrs. Lithebe is fed up with Gertrude’s tendency to revert back to her old ways, and to associate with unscrupulous people from her former life. When Gertrude insists that she cannot tell when someone is bad, Mrs. Lithebe is exasperated. Can’t she tell from the way they speak? Doesn’t she want to be rid of her old life? Gertrude says she does not wish to be so weak, that she wants to do right by Stephen. She says that she hates Johannesburg and understands it to be toxic, and wants to leave.
Mrs. Lithebe is concerned about Gertrude backsliding into corruption. Gertrude understands the nature of Johannesburg, but feels powerless to resist it. She understands that for her, the only solution is to physically remove herself from the corrupting effects of Johannesburg.
A woman comes by the house with a newspaper. There has been another murder, another white man shot by a black intruder. The woman, who has been accompanying Mrs. Lithebe to Absalom’s trial, suggests that this does not bode well for Absalom, and Mrs. Lithebe agrees. Msimangu and Stephen return home, and Mrs. Lithebe hides the newspaper from him. When Stephen is in his room, Msimangu and the others devise a plan to keep Stephen from seeing the paper until after the trail is over.
It is inevitable, given the cycle of violence in Johannesburg, that another crime would happen that mirrors Absalom’s own. The cycle remains unbroken, no matter how many lives it claims. And with each revolution the distrust and anger between white and blacks becomes worse.
Later that day, Gertrude mentions to Mrs. Lithebe that she has a plan: she wishes to become a nun. Mrs. Lithebe is pleased with this plan, but she asks what will be done with Gertrude’s son. Gertrude says that she thinks Stephen’s wife can raise him better than she can, but that she is praying about the issue. Mrs. Lithebe says that she will pray, too. When she goes to her room, Gertrude also confides this plan to Absalom’s girlfriend. The girl promises that if Gertrude indeed does this, she will help care for the boy as if he’s her own.
Stephen and others who can resist Johannesburg’s corruption have a support in the form of their Christian faith. Gertrude seeks the same for herself. Her solution is more extreme—she wants to join a nunnery and completely separate herself from the world—but perhaps that is necessary for her given the depths to which she had sunk and her seeming inability to withstand the temptations of Johannesburg on her own.