Cry, the Beloved Country
How we cite our quotes:
The day was warm, and the smell strong in the carriage. But Kumalo was a humble man, and did not much care. They saw his clerical collar, and moved up to make room for the umfundisi. He looked around, hoping there might be someone with whom he could talk, but there was no one who appeared of that class. He turned to the window to say farewell to his friend.
— Why did Sibeko not come to me himself? he asked.
— He was afraid, umfundisi. He is not of our church.
— Is he not of our people? Can a man in trouble go only to those of his church?
— I shall tell him, umfundisi. (1.3.18-23)
Religion provides another form of identity in Cry, the Beloved Country besides race. Here, we see that Kumalo's position as a reverend gives him a great deal of status in the community. But while religion is generally a positive force in this novel, it does cause this small problem with Sibeko, that he is afraid to approach Kumalo for help because Sibeko does not share Kumalo's religion. We have to wonder what the implications are that Sibeko is the sole exception to the rule that nearly all of the other characters in this book, including Msimangu, Kumalo, and Jarvis, come together to help each other because they do share religious faith.
— I have a place for you to sleep, my friend, in the house of an old woman, a Mrs. Lithebe, who is a good member of our church. She is an Msutu, but she speaks Zulu well. She will think it an honour to have a priest in the house. (1.5.1)
Mrs. Lithebe is a Msutu and Kumalo is a Zulu, but she is "a good member" of the church who will "think it an honour to have a priest in the house." So religion seems to be a way to flatten out differences between tribes. And it also brings together Kumalo with white priests like Father Vincent. So generally, religion is a unifying force in Cry, the Beloved Country.
They went into a room where a table was laid, and there he met many priests, both white and black, and they sat down after grace and ate together. He was a bit nervous of the many plates and knives and forks, but watched what the others did, and used the things likewise. (1.5.3)
Again, religion becomes a way of bringing diverse groups of people together. The many priests, both black and white, who share dinner with Kumalo at the Mission House are all united by their faith in God. Paton is illustrating why he bases his reform politics in religion: because sharing a religion can help people to overcome racial biases and cultural differences.