Book Two—Discussion Questions
2. Describe the salient differences between Stephen Kumalo's home, as pictured in Book One, Chapter 2, and James Jarvis's home, as pictured in Book Two, Chapter 18.
3. In Book Two, we see James Jarvis going on a mental, moral and emotional journey. What are the main lessons that he learns?
4. In what ways is James Jarvis like Stephen Kumalo, and in what ways is he unlike him?
5. Comment on what we see of James Jarvis's wife Margaret and of Stephen Kumalo's wife. Are they in any ways similar?
6. "Kumalo and Jarvis had both failed to get to know their sons. By the time they do know them, it is too late." Is this a fair comment on (a) Stephen and (b) Jarvis?
7. Give a sketch of the political and economic views of Harrison (Chapter 21) and of those who speak for the mines (Chapter 23). What are Paton's stated or implied criticisms of these views?
8. Study Chapter 21. How much do we learn of Arthur Jarvis from what his father sees and finds in his study?
9. What are the main features of Arthur Jarvis's views, as they are expressed in the passages of his writings that his father reads (Chapters 20, 21 and 24)?
10. Study Chapter 25, which presents the unplanned meeting of Stephen and Jarvis. Look carefully at and comment on the emotions of both men.
11. Try to define the relationship between, on the one hand, the main story of two fathers and two sons and, on the other hand, the various political events that are described and discussed in the course of the novel.
12. At the end of Chapter 26 we read: "In the deserted harbor there is yet water that laps against the quays. In the dark and silent forest there is a leaf that falls. Behind the polished paneling the white ant eats away the wood. Nothing is ever quiet, except for fools." Comment on this in the light of the novel as a whole.
13. Consider Gertrude. In your view, was her sudden desire to become a nun (Chapter 27) genuine, or a deliberate subterfuge, or something between these two extremes? How is all this related to her disappearance at the end of Chapter 29?
14. Attempt to offer your judgment of the judge's judgment in Chapter 28.
15. How in your view do we react to Msimangu's decision, in Chapter 29, to retire into a community and "forswear forever the world and its possessions"?