Quote 4

The truth is that our civilization is not Christian; it is a tragic compound of great ideal and fearful practice, of high assurance and desperate anxiety, of loving charity and fearful clutching of possessions. Allow me a minute. . . .

These words are written by Arthur Jarvis and read by his father in Chapter 21. Arthur contrasts a Christianity that supports the notion of black people as inferior with a true Christianity that rejects white superiority. Some Christians, Arthur says, argue that it is God’s will that black South Africans remain unskilled workers. Trying to educate them would be an un-Christian action, and therefore wrong. Arthur argues, however, that every human being has the right to develop his or her God-given gifts. Because South Africa ignores this principle, Arthur argues, it is not a truly Christian state.

The cut-off sentence that closes Arthur’s statement is especially poignant for his father, as these are the last words that Arthur writes before going downstairs to his death. Ironically, Arthur Jarvis is on the verge of envisioning a new South Africa when the problems of the old one cut him down. This tragic turn of events indicates the dire need for change.