Cry, the Beloved Country


  • Stephen Kumalo: A 69-year-old Zulu priest who attempts to find his family in Johannesburg, and later to reconstruct the disintegrating state of his village. The father of Absalom, book three focuses heavily on his relationship with James Jarvis.
  • Theophilus Msimangu: A priest from Johannesburg who helps Kumalo find his son Absalom and his sister Gertrude.
  • John Kumalo: Stephen's brother, who denies the tribal validity and becomes a spokesman for the new racial movement in the city; a former carpenter.
  • Absalom Kumalo: Stephen's son who left home to look for Stephen's sister Gertrude, and who murders Arthur Jarvis.
  • Gertrude Kumalo: The young sister of Stephen who becomes a prostitute in Johannesburg and leads a dissolute life.
  • James Jarvis: A wealthy landowner whose son, Arthur, is murdered. He comes to the realization of the guilt of white residents in such crimes and forgives the Kumalos.
  • Arthur Jarvis: Murdered by Absalom Kumalo, he is the son of James Jarvis. He had many liberal racial views that are highly significant and influential.
  • Dubula: A big man who was the "heart" of anything and everything Arthur Jarvis did, including wanting peace between the races.
  • Mr. Carmichael: Absalom's lawyer; he takes his case pro deo (for God) in this case meaning for free.
  • Father Vincent: A priest from England who helps Stephen in his troubles.
  • Mrs. Lithebe: A native housewife in whose house Stephen stays while in Johannesburg.
  • The Harrisons: A father and son who represent two opposing views concerning the racial problem. The father, who is Arthur's father-in-law, represents the traditional view, while the son represents the more liberal view.
  • The Girl [Absalom's wife]: A teenage girl, approximately 16 years old, impregnated by Absalom, whom she later marries. She tells Kumalo that Absalom will be her third husband and that her father had abandoned her family when she was quite young. Given her young age it is unclear if any of these marriages were wholly consensual.

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