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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Kumalo is ashamed of the tawdry clothes his sister wears and buys clothes for Gertrude and her son from his frugal savings. Gertrude feels happy at Mrs. Lithebe place and seems to be slipping into her former good self. Kumalo writes to his wife of the sequence of events that took place in Johannesburg. Msimangu accompanies Kumalo to his brotherís shop. John is pleasantly surprised to see Kumalo. Kumalo asks about his wife Esther. John tells him that she deserted him ten years ago and now he is living in with another woman. John speaks vociferously about the things happening in Johannesburg. Kumalo is thoroughly bewitched by the transformation of his brother from an ordinary carpenter to a fire-breathing politician. John decries the ineffectuality of the church in solving the black manís problem. Msimangu leaves for Doorfontein Textile Company Kumalo and Msimangu leave for Doorfontein and find out that Absalom had quit the job a year ago. One of the workmen informs them that he had last heard that Absalom was staying with Mrs. Ndlela of Endstreet, Sophiatown. Kumalo and Msimangu visit Mrs. Ndlela but are disappointed, for Absalom doesnít live there anymore. Mrs. Ndlela tells Msimangu that Absalom kept a bad company but she is hesitant to divulge anything more about him.
At the beginning of the chapter, the reader sees Kumalo buying new clothes for Gertrude and her child Kumalo is symbolically, making them discard their old, ugly life and preparing them for the new, decent life. This gesture also reveals Kumaloís thoughtfulness.
Johnís rhetoric opens a new dimension on the central concern of the novel. Not all blacks like Kumalo, Msimangu and the priests at Mission House look wistfully over the break up of their old society. There are many blacks who are old that the old seats of power the tribe, the chief, the church are being dismantled and being replaced by a new force. John speaks vociferously on the injustice done to the blacks, but fails to explain the nature of up coming new order because he is quite confused about it in his own mind. There is no new order because there is only rising anarchy and corruption of motivation.
John Kumalo stands in direct contrast to his brothers. He has discarded the old value and rejected the church, where as the letter holds close to his heart his native values and his church. John works for the black cause but his dedication to it is not unadulterated. John has been corrupted by the power his voice has given him. John speaks like the Ancient Mariner, casting a spell on the audience, he growls and thunders, but all of it comes from without an act from within, i.e., from his heart and soul. His voice is just a crowd. Pulling instrument for his party. Here again, in the novel. Msimangu vents the authorís opinion on the issue. At first the black man wants power to put right what is wrong, but once he has the power, he is easily corrupted and falls pray to his lust, forgetting his own cause of strife against the whites. Things come to a tragic imbroglio, for the black man is corrupted by power just as the white man was, before him. The only solution is that both the races must cast aside their vested interests and work selflessly for the country. However, the gravest fear of Msimangu, as of Paton is that when the whites are turned to loving, they will find blacks are turned to hating.
The next morning, Kumalo and Msimangu set out for Alexandra but are confronted with a bus boycott. A group of blocks have decided to boycott in protest of the increased fare. Their spokesman, Dubula dissuades Kumalo and Msimangu from taking the bus, by his forceful account of the injustice done to the poor blacks.
Alexandra is eleven miles from Johannesburg, Kumalo and Msimangu being walking the long stretch. A white man gives them a lift in his car. Msimangu speaks about Alexandra. It is said to be the only place where a black man can own property, but unfortunately, it has become a hotbed of crime, prostitution and brewing of illicit liquor. White men and women are frequently robbed and assaulted. Hence many have petitioned to do away with the city, altogether yet there are good white men who fought against this petition.
On reaching the house they were seeking, Kumalo and Msimangu meet the lady of the house, Mrs. Mkize. She tells them that Absalom had left her house months ago. There is an unmistakable fear in her eyes when they ask her about Absalomís whereabouts; but she refuses to disclose anything. Kumalo and Msimangu depart. On the way Msimangu tells him to wait at a refreshment corner and he returns to Mrs. Mkize house. He tries to get the truth out of the lady after a good deal of cajoling the lady speaks. She says that Absalom and his friends would come and get smuggled goods with them. She suggests Msimangu to meet the taxi-driver called Hlabeni who was friendly with Absalom. Msimangu thanks the lady for her kindness. Msimangu and Kumalo hire Hlabeniís taxi to Johannesburg on the road they ask him about Absalom. The taxi- driver reveals that Absalom has gone to Orlando and lives amongst the squatters in shantytown.
The chapter is noteworthy for Kumaloís encounter with Dubula, a man sincerely given to the black manís cause. Msimangu tells Kumalo that John, Dubula and Tomlinson are the pillars of the new movement. John has the voice, Tomlinson the brain and Dubula, the heart. Dubula is humble and works selflessly to redress the suffering of the blacks. John Kumalo, on the other hand, speaks high-sounding and does nothing pragmatic, but builds castles in the air. Dubula has picked up a small area of work, which is affecting the people directly, i.e., the increase in the bus fares. Dubulaís approach has been very effective and the government is afraid of him, for they know that Dubula cannot be corrupted. The most important result of Dubulaís boycott has been that it has aroused pity for the natives amongst many whites. It is a touching sight to see white men offer lift to old black men, women and children. This incident also sheds light on the fact that the ongoing strife is not merely a racial one. It is a battle between justice and injustice, between right and wrong. Some conscientious whites realize that the hike in bus fares is a grave injustice into blacks, and they therefore choose to side with the blacks. Similarly, there are whites that have rejected the petition demanding that the black establishment in Alexandria must be dismantled. Acts of goodness such as these offer comfort in desolation and spell hope for South Africa.
The primal emotion of Ďfearí is encountered in every face that is asked about Absalom. Mrs. Mkize fears to disclose anything because she feels that it would involve her.