And again the tears in his eyes. Who knows if he weeps for the girl he has deserted? Who knows if he weeps for a promise broken? Who knows if he weeps for another self, that would work for a woman, pay his taxes, save his money, keep the laws, love his children, another self that has already been defeated?
When Kumalo finds Absalom after he has killed Arthur Jarvis, Absalom cannot explain why he did what he did, but he cries. Here, Kumalo does not know if Absalom cries from regret of what he has done or something else, but he understands that he no longer knows his son. Absalom has changed so much from the last time Kumalo saw him that neither of them understands how he came to be this way.
He is a stranger, he said, I cannot touch him, I cannot reach him. I see no shame in him, no pity for those he has hurt. Tears come out of his eyes, but it seems that he weeps only for himself, not for his wickedness, but for his danger.
After Kumalo talks to Absalom, he feels enraged that his son does not feel ashamed of murdering a man and impregnating a girl who is not his wife. Since Kumalo raised his son with Christian values, he does not understand how Absalom has fallen so far. However, Absalom represents an example of how inequality can corrupt black people, turning them into the criminals white people insist they already were.
They asked me if I was Absalom Kumalo. And I agreed, and I was afraid, and I had meant to go that day to confess to the Police, and now I could see I had delayed foolishly.
During his trial, Absalom expresses regret that he did not confess to the murder right away. Although Absalom did not seem to feel pity directly after the murder, once he has collected himself he seems to know that what he did was wrong. His words and emotions reveal that he has not completely lost the religious values instilled in him but was influenced by corrupt friends.
The boy reared up on his haunches. He hid nothing, his face was distorted by his cries. Au! au! I am afraid of the hanging, he sobbed, I am afraid of the hanging.
After Absalom is sentenced to be hanged, he breaks down in front of his father as they say goodbye. Even though he has been living on his own for many years, in this instance he seems more like a little boy than a man. Even when he killed Arthur, his actions stemmed from a robbery planned and orchestrated by one of his friends. Readers see that Absalom never truly got to be an adult who makes his own decisions.
This is a good place. I am locked in, and no one may come and talk to me. But I may smoke and read and write letters, and the white men do not speak badly to me.
Absalom tells his parents in a letter about his life in prison. He clearly accepts his situation and focuses on what he sees as the good instead of the bad. Compared with the hysteria he displayed when he last saw his father, this new sense of peace and acceptance indicates Absalom’s growth and maturity. Readers may find it ironic and pitiful that going to prison and facing his own death caused Absalom grow up.