Brief Summary of the Novel
The book is the story of a young boy named Ngoroge and his family. He was born by a man Ngotho, who worked for the white man Sir Howlands, though supervised by Jacobo who was a villager but was all the name he was rich. Ngonge had brothers, Jomo, Kamau, Boro Ngoroge loved the education so much and wished he would go to school. His mother Ngokebi later decided that they would send him to school.
Ngoroge’s family lives on the land of Jacobo, an African made rich by his dialogue with white setters, namely Mr. Howlands, the most powerful land owner in the area. Ngoroge’s brother Kamau works as an apprentice to a carpenter, while Boro, the eldest living in forced service during world war II including witnessing the death of his elder brother. Ngotho, tends Mr. Howland’s crops but is motivated by his passion to preserve his ancestral land, rather than for any compensation or loyalty.
One day, black workers call for a strike to obtain higher wages. Ngotho is ambivalent about participating in the strike because he fears he will lose his job. However, he decides to go to the gathering, even though his two wives do not agree at the demonstration, there are calls for higher wages. Sudden by the white police inspector brings Jacobs to the to the gathering to pacify the native people Jacobo tries to end the strike. Ngotho attacks Jacobo, and the result is a root where two people are killed. Jacobo survives and swear revenge. Ngotho loses his job and Ngoroge’s family is forced to move. Ngoroge’s brothers and his education and seem to lose respect for their father.
Mroihaka, Jacobo’s daughter and Njoroge’s best friend, enters a girl’s only boarding school, leaving Njoroge relatively alone. He reflects upon her leaving and rea-realizes that he was embarrassed by his father’s actions towards Jacobo, for this reason, Ngoroge is not upset by their exit and their separation, Njoroge switches to another school.
Kenya was brought to shreds because Jomo was imprisoned and their hopes of getting independent then was shattered. Life was not made easy for them.
The chronological arrangement of the novel started first from where Ngoroge’s mother promised him he would go to school and he shares the good news with his brother Kamau, who chose to do his carpentry work.
Narrowing down to the trial of strike where not resurrected because of what Ngotho did to Jacobo. At the spot, two people were killed and because of that incident, his child love their respect for their father.
Mwhiwakr, Ngoroge’s friend and the daughter of Jacobo left her school and was not really angry with Ngoroge though he was embarrassed by the actions of his father.
Everyone’s attention was focused on the upcoming trial of Jomo Kenyatha- a revered leader of the movement. Many blacks think that he is going to bring forth Kenga’s independence. But Jomo loses the trial and is imprisoned. This results in further protests and greater suppression of the black population.
Furthermore, Jacobo and a while landowner Mr. Howlands, fight against the rising activities of the Maie Mau, an organization striving for Kenyan economic, political and cultural independence, Jacobo accuses Ngotho of being the leader of the Maie Mau and tries to imprison the whole family. Meanwhile, the situation in the country is deteriorating. Six black men are taken out of their houses and executed in the woods.
One day, Njoroge meets Mwihaki again, who has returned from boarder school. Although Njoroge had planned to avoid her due to the conflict between their fathers, their friendship is unaffected. Njoroge passes an important exam that allows him to advance to high school. His village is proud of him, and collects money to pay Ngoroge’s high school function.
Several months later, Jacobo is murdered in his office by a member of Maie Mau Mr. Howlands has Ngoroge removed from school for questioning. Both father and son are brutally beaten before release and Ngotho is left barely alive. Although there doesn’t seem to be a connection between Njoroge’s family and the murder, it is eventually revealed that Ngoroge’s brothers are behind the assassination, and that Boro, is the ral leader of the Maie Mau. Ngotho soon dies from his injuries and Njoroge finds out that his father was protecting his brothers. Kamau has been imprisoned for life. Only Njoroge and his two mothers remain free, and Njoroge is left as the sole provider of his two mothers. Njoroge fears that he cannot make ends meet; he gives up hope of continuing in school and loses faith in God.
Njoroge asks for Kwhiroaki’s support but she is angry because of her father’s death when he finally pledges his love to her, she refuses to leave with him, realizing her obligation to Kenya and her mother. Njoroge decides to leave town and makes an attempts at suicide. However, he fails when his mother find him before he is able to hang himself. The novel closes with Njoroge feeling hopeless, and ashamed of himself.
The novel is set in Kenya in the late 90s. it is divided into two parts and eighteen chapters. Part one deals mostly with the education of Njoroge, while part two deals with the rising revolutionary, anti-colonist turmoil in Kenya.
The language used by the author is not too difficult to understand. He used a plain language and that is English language.
Point Of View
The point of view adopted by the writer is omniscient point of view.
The writer was not actually in a good mood when he wrote the novel following the tone used because the atmosphere created was that of sadness from what the Kenyans passed through during that period.
- Theme of negative aspects of colonization and imperialism
- Theme of the role of saviours and salvation
- Theme of love
- Theme of zealousness for education
Negative aspects of colonialism and imperialism
Njoroge’s aspiration to attend university is frustrated by both the violence of the Maie Mau rebels and the violent response of the colonial government. This disappointment leads to his alienation from his family and ultimately his suicide attempt. If not for the colonialism and imperialism Ngoroge won’t have experienced it.
Role Of Saviours And Salvation
Jomo Kenyatta, the first prime minister of Kenya, is immortalized in their novel. The author says”Jomo had been his father’s hope (Ngotho). Ngotho had come to think that it was Jomo who would drive away the white man. To him, Jomo stood for custom and traditions purified by grace of learning and much travel. Njoroge comes to view Jomo as a messiah who will win the struggle against the colonial powers.
Theme Of Love
This is seen in the life of Mwhiwaki and Njoroge. They both loved each other though Ngoroge did not confess it until the end of the novel. Nyokabi and Ngotho also loved their children so much that is why Ngotho protected his sons and went to prison.
Theme Of Zealousness For Education
Njonoge had the zeal and quest for education and by all cost was determined to be educated though his dream was later shattered because of the happenings in the country.
Characters and Characterization
The characters in the novel were exposed by their actions in the novel.
Njoroge: He is the main character in the novel whose main goal in the novel is to become as educated as possible. He was determined to go to school though at the end he did not finish up.
Ngotho: He is Njoroge’s father. He works for Mr. Howlands and is respected by him until he attacks Jacobo at a workers strike. He is fired and the family is forced to move to another section of the book his position as the central power of the family weakened, to the point where his self-realization that he has spent his whole life. Waiting for the prophesy (that proclaims the blacks will be returned their land) to become free rather than fighting the power of the British, leads to depression. He later died at the end as a result of pains.
Kwihaki: Njoroge’s best friend and later develops interest for love. She is the daughter of Jacobo. When it is revealed that his family killed Jacobo (Boro) Mrohihaki distances herself from Ngoroge, as being for time to mourn her father and take care of her mother.
Mr. Howlands: A white Englishman who came to Kenya and now owns a farm made up of land that originally belonged to Ngotho’s ancestors. He has three children, Peter who died in World War II before the book’s beginning, a daughter who becomes a missionary, and Stephen who meets Ngoroge in high school.
Mwangi: He is the son of Nyokabi and Ngotho. The full brother of Njoroge. He died in the World War II.