Study Guide

Cry, the Beloved Country Chapter 12

By Alan Paton

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Chapter 12

  • Everyone has a different idea for how to fix what's wrong with South Africa.
  • (Note that all the opinions in this chapter come from white South Africans. For more on why Paton focuses on the political views and assumptions of white South Africans, check out our section under "Themes" on "Race.")
  • We need more police.
  • No, we need better education for black South Africans.
  • We need to enforce the "pass laws" (12.18) more strictly. ("Pass laws," by the way, required that all black South Africans carry identification papers [called "pass books"] with them at all times. Any white cop could stop and demand the pass book of any black person who happened to be passing by. If that person wasn't carrying his pass book, he could be thrown in jail.
  • These laws were deeply restrictive when Paton published Cry, The Beloved Country in 1948, but they got even worse with the formal beginning of apartheid in 1952.)
  • But no, pass laws don't work—they just fill the prisons with people who don't really belong there.
  • We need separate places for the black South Africans to go.
  • But where are they supposed to go?
  • White South Africans are growing more and more afraid of losing their power.
  • And now, back to the plot: Absalom's former landlady Mrs. Ndela comes to find Msimangu. Apparently, the police are looking for Absalom at Mrs. Mkize's house.
  • Uh oh.
  • Poor Msimangu has to break the news to Kumalo that the cops are looking for his son.
  • The cops still haven't found Absalom, but whatever they want him for seems serious.
  • The pregnant girl hasn't seen Absalom since Saturday, so Msimangu leaves his address in case she has any news of Kumalo's son.

Cry, the Beloved Country Chapter 12 Study Group

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