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Cry, the Beloved Country - Kumalo - Character

Essay by   •  September 29, 2011  •  Case Study  •  773 Words (4 Pages)  •  2,347 Views

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It is in the darkest times that the true nature of a character is revealed. In the compelling novel Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton, the important character Stephen Kumalo is revealed to us through the traumatic journey he takes in attempt to restore his family. Paton utilizes his interaction with other characters in the novel, dialogue and narrative to give insight to Kumalo's character and how though his belief in god he is able to find "comfort in a world of desolation".

The protagonist Stephen Kumalo is characterized by his caring nature, morality and naiveté. Through the dialogue of Mrs. Lithebe, we are revealed that he is a "kind and gentle" man, who treats people with "courtesy and respect". However, we are reminded throughout the novel that Kumalo's character is not in fact perfect. Kumalo demonstrates his human foibles just as he begins his journey to Johannesburg, "already the knees are weak of the man who a moment since had shown his little vanity", purposely deceiving others into believing that he is a regular traveler to Johannesburg. This demonstration of his simple faults allows readers to sympathize with Kumalo and reveals how he, like us, although a priest, is merely human, capable of committing wrong. This in turn reminds readers that it is not a necessity to be perfect to be one worthy of being a giver or receiver of Christian love. Despite Kumalo's blunder, he is quick to feel ashamed for are actions and immediately turns to his "sacred book". It is "this world alone that was certain" to him, giving insight to how Kumalo has a strong belief in god, the source of his "comfort in a world of desolation".

When Kumalo sees the state of his sister, Gertrude, his "anger masters him" quickly. This anger is inflicted by his strong sense of morals. As a priest, he is ashamed that his sister has become "a liquor seller, a prostitute, with a child and does [you do] not know where it is". Kumalo's wickedness is also exhibited when he goes to see Absalom's partner. He is angered and a "wish to hurt her came into him.""In his wild and cruel mood", he tests the girl causing her to fall "to sobbing, a creature shamed and tormented". This once again reveals that Kumalo's character is also capable of hurting others, like many of us are. However, "the tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that they are not mended again". Kumalo, although capable of hurting, is also ready to forgive and mend the broken sprits and morals of these two women, offering to bring them both back with him to Johannesburg to have "house and the soul restored", revealing how it is his "love and compassion" that can "pay for [the] pain and suffering" of these women.

Being a priest of the small village of Ndotsheni means Kumalo is very much



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