Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
The trial of the three accused in the Arthur Jarvis' murder case, resumes. The court absolves Mathew Kumalo and Pafuri because their guilt is not established, but no mercy is shown to Absalom. He is given a death sentence. Absalom falls to the floor and sobs like a child. The women of his house wail. His poor father is devoid of strength and has to be assisted out.
The chapter takes a close look at the South African process. Absalom has confessed crime and his plea that the killing was accidental is rejected. The verdict goes against Absalom but one cant say that the trial was unfair. It is a catch-22 situation for the judicial system. If they understand the frustration of the native and give them leeway, the whites will feel heated and insecure that the native crime will again increase. On the contrary, even they repress the natives and punish them heavily they are doing noting to eradicate the root cause of native crime. At the close of the chapter, Absalom collapses and the young white man from the reformatory crosses the color line to assist him. The action signals the breaking up of the wall between the races.
Absalomís family comes to meet him in the prison. Absalomís eyes light up on seeing them but the final hope dies down when he is told that they have come for his marriage. The conversation is constrained and the two parties are at a loss for words. In a solemn ceremony, father Vincent marries Absalom and the young girl. Kumalo tells his son that they would be leaving for Ndotsheni, the day after. He promises to look after his wife and the child to be born. Absalom tells him, to collect from the post office account, four pounds that he had saved for the child. He wishes the child to be called Peter if it is a son.
Absalom dreads the prospect of being hanged and breaks down, crying and wailing aloud. His father holds him and tries to instill courage in him. However, the boy, is a young soul and cannot be easily consoled. Hearing the loud commotion, the warden kindly advises Kumalo to leave. Kumalo once again assures Absalom that he will take a good care of his wife and child. He holds on desperately to his father's feet and has to be dragged away from the father. After returning from the prison, Kumalo visits his brother. Kumalo tells his brother that he wishes to advise him on a couple of things. He asks John what has he thought about his son. John replies that he intends to get his son back to his place. Kumalo questions the utility of his random politics. John is enraged and tells him, to keep out of his matters. Unfazed by the snub, Kumalo tells him that it has come to his ears that dangerous things are spoken in his shop. The urge to hurt his brother grows in Kumalo and he lies that he has heard that spies have been sent to his shop. John is infuriated and throws his brother out. Out on the street Kumalo feels humiliated and ashamed for he had not come there to hurt his brother. His reason for visiting his brother was to advise him to purify himself with love: love that was greater than force; for unlike force and power it did not corrupt.
James Jarvis thanks the Harrison for their hospitality, before going he hands John Harrison a check of one thousand pounds and tells him to open a club dedicated to the activities and causes that his son was devoted to.
There is a small farewell party for Kumalo and his tribe at Mrs. Lithebesí place. Mrs. Lithebe, Msimangu and the priests at the Mission House were thanked. Msimangu announces that he is retiring into a community and renouncing all worldly things. Before leaving, Msimangu hands over his meager savings to Kumalo in order to help him with the responsibilities he has taken up. Kumalo is deeply touched and weeps. He promises to pray for Msimangu all his life.
Early next morning, he goes to wake up his daughter-in-law, the girl is excited to leave and even Kumalo canít help but smile. He, then goes to his sister's room. His nephew is in the room but Gertrude is gone.
The last chapter of Book II is divided into four sections like the last chapter of Book I. The practice reflects structural harmony and helps to tie all the loose strands before the scene shifts to Ndotsheni.
The first section, sees the marriage of Absalom and the young girl. Absalom is indifferent and goes mechanically through the ceremony. The girl on the other hand is delighted, not because she is getting married to her childís father but because she is gaining entry into a family. Love, attachment and security is something she had always craved for and hence for the first time she is excited and alive.
Absalom wants his son to be named Peter. Peter, the reader recalls after was the name of St. Peter the founder of the Christian church. It implies that the new generation may be able to establish a better and stable life and succeed, where Absalomís generation failed.
In the next section, Kumalo was possessed by a similar desire as when he met the young girl. As in the earlier transgression he is immediately ashamed of his thoughts and asks for forgiveness.
The donation Jarvis makes to the African Boys Club shows the first glimmer of change in him. Jarvis has come to understand his son better after his death. His writings have made him ponder over the native issues and see them from a different perspective. He wishes to keep alive Arthurís cause; this immortalizes Arthur Jarvis.
The farewell party for Kumalo, though small and modest to brimming with warmth, which emanates from kind souls like Mr. Lithebe, Father Vincent and Msimangu. Msimanguís decision to lead a cloistered life comes as a surprising and the motivations remains unexplained. However, one canít help feeling that a noble soul like him was desperately needed in the world. He was renouncing Msimangu is a vital character because he leaves an indelible impression on Kumalo. Msimangu stands by him through thick and thin and before leaving he gifts all his savings.
At the close of Book, the reader finds that he has failed to restore his tribe. Absalom faces execution, John Kumalo is corrupt and does not long for the village life, Gertrude disappears, unable to give up her old ways.