Study Guide

Cry, the Beloved Country Chapter 5

By Alan Paton

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Chapter 5

  • Msimangu wants Kumalo to stay in the house of one of his churchgoers, a lady named Mrs. Lithebe.
  • After Msimangu and Kumalo eat a meal with a large group of Anglican priests, Msimangu pulls Kumalo into a private room for a chat.
  • Shmoopers, Kumalo has been having too much fun—it's time for the misery to set in. Consider yourselves warned.
  • Msimangu breaks the news to Kumalo that Gertrude (his sister) is not physically sick. Nope, she's spiritually sick, which is a really nice way of putting that she's now a prostitute.
  • People also drink and gamble at her place, and apparently someone got killed there one night. Yeah, she's not exactly living the high life.
  • To make matters worse, Gertrude's little son is staying with her, even though her house is clearly not a good place for a kid.
  • Kumalo asks for Msimangu's help in finding his own son, Absalom. No dice.
  • Msimangu does have news of Kumalo's brother John, who is now a big politician in the city.
  • But, Msimangu adds, John has turned his back on religion.
  • Needless to say, Kumalo is really depressed at all of this terrible news.
  • To Msimangu, the big problem behind all of this is that white culture has destroyed traditional African customs and family structures.
  • But Msimangu cannot just hate white culture, because it's been the source of his Christian faith.
  • Meanwhile, Kumalo goes to meet Mrs. Lithebe, who shows him to the room where he'll be staying in Johannesburg.

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