Book Two—Chapter Summaries
The funeral, with the presence of so many people of different races and a moving speech by the bishop, makes a great impact on Jarvis. He talks to Harrison, who speaks about the police investigation of the murder and more generally about African crime, and then offers a defense of the mines and their practices and a strongly conservative assessment of the socio-political situation. His son John says that Arthur would have challenged Harrison's views, and Jarvis wishes that he could have heard his son do so. He asks John if he will later take him to visit the Boys' Club that Arthur supported. The next morning, after giving more news of the police investigation, Harrison hands to Jarvis the manuscript on "native crime" that Arthur was working on when he was killed. Jarvis dwells painfully on the fact of Arthur's death, but then focuses on his words. Arthur points out eloquently that Christians are caught up in contradictions. They wish to follow the Gospel precepts, but because of their prejudices and fears they cannot bring themselves to do so. Jarvis is "deeply moved". His son's words and allegiances are beginning to resonate in his mind.
We are in the courtroom, for the trial of Absalom and his two associates. The atmosphere is solemn; in the public gallery, whites and "non-Europeans" are segregated, "according to the custom" (the novel was written before the introduction of formal Apartheid). We are told that the judges are incorruptible in their allegiance to the Law, but that the Law, made by white people, is not necessarily just. The trial begins. Absalom is questioned by the prosecutor and by the judge. We believe his vivid account of what happened: the three of them broke into the house, Pafuri struck the domestic servant, Arthur Jarvis appeared, and Absalom, who was carrying a revolver as a precaution, panicked and shot Jarvis, without meaning to kill him; then they ran away. The sharp questions thrown at Absalom, however, both confuse him a little and reveal the points where his motivations had not been thought through. The other two accused will claim that they were not at the scene. The court is adjourned, and the whites and the blacks leave through their separate doors. Stephen catches sight of James Jarvis, whose son his son has killed. He trembles, and turns away in fear and anguish.
This chapter is an interlude, though its theme is related to one of the central concerns of the novel. It is spoken by a white South African much interested in money, but what he says is shot through with an irony, which is recognizably Paton's. The speaker, like many others of his kind, is ecstatic that new rich goldfields have been discovered in the bare veld of the Orange Free State province, some way south of Johannesburg. Gold shares are shooting up in value, and all eyes are on South Africa; perhaps another Johannesburg will arise. The speaker's home language is English, and he complains comically that most goldmines have unpronounceable Afrikaans names. But he proclaims proudly the capitalist philosophy of the mines (as Harrison had in Chapter 4), maintaining that the wealth of the rich will help society in the long run, and he expresses scorn for those liberals and church people who think that the new profits might be spent directly on improving the lot of the poor. In the final paragraphs Paton speaks in his own voice: "mines are for men, not for money... No second Johannesburg is needed upon the earth. One is enough."