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John has grown fat and carries himself with an air of authority. He is loud, and it seems that he uses this loudness to attract attention and gain respect. His wife has left him, and he lives with another woman.
"John Kumalo provides a stark contrast to his brother Stephen, representing a different and wholly modern set of values that clash with Stephen's insistence on conservatism and family. John Kumalo rejects any sense of conventional morality, dismissing ideas of fidelity and finding religious beliefs to be antiquated, and more importantly he approaches the changes in South African society as an improvement. In contrast to Stephen, he believes that the tribe is a dangerous and autocratic body that was necessarily destroyed; living under white rule John knows that he is not free, but John believes himself at least subject to a less oppressive authority than a chief. Paton even makes the notable comparison between John and a chief; in essence, John has taken on the authority that he now derides. In his values and opinions John thus comes to represent modernism in Cry, the Beloved Country, the archetype of the successful businessman and politician.
With the exception of John Kumalo's hard realism, the discussion of the political situation in South Africa remains problematic. While John Kumalo's contented state is easily explained, since he holds one of the few positions of power among the blacks of Johannesburg, the political prescriptions given by Msimangu seem deluded and impossible, as he rests his hope for the nation on a communal rejection of self-interest and ambition."