Study Guide

Cry, the Beloved Country Chapter 8

By Alan Paton

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Chapter 8

  • The next morning, when Msimangu and Kumalo reach the bus stop, they find out that there is a bus boycott going on to protest the rising costs of transportation.
  • The two men agree to walk in solidarity with the boycotters, even though it's an eleven-mile trip both ways. That's some serious dedication right there.
  • As they walk, a white man stops and gives them a ride to their destination, and Msimangu is seriously amazed at how kind this guy is.
  • Finally, Msimangu and Kumalo arrive at Mrs. Mkize's digs.
  • She swears that it's been almost a year since she's seen either John or Absalom. But something's fishy in her response. She's clearly afraid. But of what?
  • Hmm. Here's a solution: Msimangu sends Kumalo out so that he can talk to Mrs. Mkize alone.
  • Gradually, Msimangu encourages Mrs. Mkize to tell the truth: Absalom and John used to bring lots of stuff (money, watches, clothes) back to the house without explanation.
  • Apparently, they were friends with a local cab driver, Hlabeni. They should check with him.
  • Hlabeni tells Msimangu that Absalom has been staying in a nearby shanty town.
  • Shanty towns, by the way, are large settlements of very poor people, where the residents build shelters or shacks (called "shanties") out of tin, sheet iron, and whatever materials they can find. And they're off. Msimangu and Kumalo take Hlabeni's cab to this shanty town.

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