Cry, the Beloved Country

Chapter 31

I need a good chapter 31analysis question, like a pre-ap type question??

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I have provided Gradesaver's analysis for this chapter below. You should have no problem formulating your own question(s) from the information in the text.

Alan Paton devotes this chapter to the obstacles that Stephen Kumalo faces in his attempts to bring back order to Ndotsheni. Primary among these obstacles is the chief who rules over the region, whom Paton portrays as a man who is devoted only to his personal well-being and not that of his subjects. He essentially dismisses Kumalo's concerns, despite the minister's respected position in the community, and leaves Kumalo with little more than platitudes. This continues a theme of ineffective leaders that are prevalent throughout Cry, the Beloved Country. The chief is little more than John Kumalo in native dress and traditional mannerisms. Again, Paton creates an uncomfortable racial divide; while most of the white authority figures in the novel are benevolent (James Jarvis, the judge, the reformatory worker), the black characters in positions of power (John Kumalo, the chief) are corrupt.

In this chapter, Stephen Kumalo evolves from his earlier denial and shame to a sense of duty and social justice. No longer expressing doubts over whether or not he is appropriate for his role, he instead uses his tragedies as an impetus for action on behalf of his village.

Yet it is not Stephen Kumalo's newfound sense of social justice that leads to the first step toward improvement in his village. It is instead the sense of kindness and empathy that he has shown throughout the novel and that he shows toward the little boy. It is by spending time with the young boy and teaching the little white boy that he causes action to be taken. Although it is not explicitly stated yet in this chapter, Paton greatly foreshadows that it is James Jarvis who donates the milk for the small children. Paton earlier established that Jarvis's estate is the source for most of the water in the village, and Jarvis repays the kindness that Kumalo showed to the young white boy (as well as his earlier established decency) with actions intended to help save Kumalo's village. Although there is a sense that social activism plays a small role in the decision (Kumalo's concern for the matter are so great that he tells the boy about the problems in Ndotsheni), it is a sense of basic human decency that leads to social improvement. This corresponds with Paton's view that improvement in South Africa is only possible when people work communally for the social good, behaving with a sense of Christian decency and kindness.