Cry the Beloved Country
Alan Paton
Contributed by Cinderella Domino
Chapter 8

Chapter 18 is more or less a repetition of Chapter 1 in that it has little relation to the plot and describes the landscape around Kumalo’s home village of Ndotsheni. However, the perspective is different as it is taken from the home of James Jarvis, which occupies a high place overlooking the valley.

Jarvis is a simple man, but he is concerned by the conditions endured by the natives who live below him.  Like Stephen Kumalo, he has a deep-seated love of the land and is concerned at its slow degeneration. His home means everything to him. It has been in his family for generations and he has many happy memories of the area. 

It is only after the death of his son that he appreciates fully the work he did in trying to bring justice for all the people of Johannesburg.  He is amazed that his son was prepared to sacrifice everything in the pursuit of helping other less fortunate people.

This Chapter also gives a flashback to when Jarvis hears the news of the death of his son.  We learn that Mrs. Jarvis is not keeping in good health, but arrangements are made for the couple to be flown to Johannesburg.

In Chapter 19 the story of the flashback continues and deals with the coming to terms with the bad news by the Jarvis’s.  During this time, they are accompanied by the Harrison’s, father and son, the father, John, being Mrs. Jarvis’ brother.

They are an odd pairing and represent two differing views of the racial situation. The father has the traditional colonial view, regarding the black community as servants to the whites, whereas the son has a more liberal outlook and sees that South Africa’s future lies in the integration of blacks and whites. 


We suspect that like Stephen, James will also go through a period of enlightenment as he deals with the tragedy of his son’s murder.

Paton makes the point that there are far too many passive people on both sides of the divide that appreciate the problems but are not willing to stand up and be counted.

The introduction of John Harrison is Paton’s attempt to ridicule the old stance taken by so many of the older generation of whites in South Africa.  They still regard the situation of South Africa as a white colonial country for which the blacks merely act as the workforce to support the white society. They wish to prolong the old days of Empire and keep the black community under firm control. Although he admires the work done by Arthur Jarvis, he considers that he was a dreamer and not practical like himself.  It is clear that his son recognizes the absurdity of this standpoint and his views are far more liberal and realistic.

Paton has now formed three father/son relationships in the novel.  All are different, but all have similarities as well. The main ingredient of all three relationships is the element of communication. So far as the Harrison’s are concerned, father has clearly communicated his views to his son, but the son has the wit to see that the father’s standpoint is incorrect and he has acted accordingly. James Jarvis’ influence on his son has clearly been good, and perhaps out of the three relationships, they enjoyed the best communication, but unlike the father, the son has done more than passively oppose the situation in Johannesburg, as he has acted positively to resolve the situation.  So far as Stephen and Absalom are concerned, the relationship is similar to the Harrison’s. Absalom was unable to share his father’s desire to hold on to the old tribal ways and rebelled by going to the attractions of Johannesburg. In doing so he gave up the morals given to him by his father and due to immaturity, took the path of evil, which led to the murder of Arthur Jarvis. 

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