Analysis of A GRAIN OF WHEAT by Ngugi Wa Tiongo

     






Plot Summary
         A Grain of Wheat is  a novel that  tells Kenya's struggle for independence. The novel puts together two related halls of Kenya's history. The Maumau and a long awaited independence.. Ngugi presents a strong heroism on one hand and of betrayal on several fronts on the other.



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Flashback and suspense are two prominent narrative techniques which features extensively and regurlary in the text.
    N.B: The coming of the white man to Africa brought colonialism which resulted in oprresion and civilization in terms of education.


     Discuss Ngugi's choice of flashbacks uponupon flashbacks and numerous characters in A Grain of Wheat.
      Ngugi Was Thiong'O uses flashbacks,  flashbacks in flashback as a style of writing to create suspense in the novel. The novel moves from present to past,past to past,and then back to present. The flashbacks gives us an insight into the origins and purpose of the Party and also Kihika's  role in it. Also the flashbacks reveals who and what is troubling the characters. Ngugi's choice of flashback reveals the tense feeling or burden a particular character is bearing. He uses the flashbacks upon flashbacks to pull the reader along throughout the novel,like Mugo's flashback in chapter one about how his parents had died and how he moved to live with his aunt.
      Also the author's choice of flashback is relevant because he uses the flashbacks as a point of view for the characters to express their mind.
         The use of characterization is very powerful. Ngugi uses different characters to present heroism on one hand and betrayal on the rest. Each characters had a role to perform in the novel to either ensure the success of Kenya's independence or downfall . Nigugi gave gave the character different role to perform and one character compliments another's flaw,for example Mumbi and Gikonyo. Mumbi is seen as a peace loving character,a woman who can keep her home while Gikonyo is not a patient man,he is not also understanding. He comes homes,sees Mumbi with another man's child and behaves irrationally.






         Also, Nugugi's  use of different characters in the novel symbolizes or means that everyone whether young,old,small have a role to play in the independence of their nation or Uhuru day.
       Furthermore,in using different and numerous characters,Ngugi puts women more directly in the affairs of the society. In the character of Njeri we see her individuality and self worth as she volunteers to fight for national struggle.Also,in Mumbi,embodies the value of Kenyan's independence.
         Ngugi also present us with the character of the brave and coward. Kihika is a strong and brave character  who is ready to lose everything for Kenya's sake while Mugo is a weak character who is not ready to fight,lose or die for Kenya.
      The numerous character Ngugi uses in the novel affects the structure and narrative technique and that is why he uses many flashbacks in the novel so that we can have an insight into the series of events that has happened to the characters and events that eveolves in the novel. Mumbi's flashback gives us an insight into why she has strained relationship with her husband,Gikonyo. Gikonyo's flashback also gives up an insight as to why he went to prison.


         Who is Mumbi?
       Mumbi is one of the major protagonist of the novel. She is the pivot around which the events revolves round. She is somehow connected to all the characters in the novel except the Thompson's and even the events of Uhura day revolve round her as she is been sent to persuade Mugo after all other attempts to persuade him has failed
         Mumbi is married to Gikonyo.She is a home keeper,this can be seen in the way she handled her relationship with her husband when he came back from orison only to meet her with another man's child. She keeps quiet when when her husband talks to her hardly.She doesn't try to abuse or fight him,even when Gikonyo doesn't really show care.
          Mumbi is a symbol of unity, she brings all the characters back to their senses and reconciles them. It was her peaceful,loyal,understanding and trust worthy character that makes Mugo confesses that he betrayed Kihika and made other characters think about their hyprocritical attitudes.
        Mumbi is also seen as an assertive woman,she espressess her opinion strongly with confidence.Her assertiveness is seen duringnthe construction of the new houses in Thabai in which she worked like a man
       Mumbi is a woman who will not commit adultery or sleep with another man . She loved her husband and she waited for him faithfully. Even when Karanja would help her and gibe her food thinking Mumbi would sleep with him,but Mumbi did not. It was only when Karanja called her and told her that Gikonyo was coming back that she allowed Karanja to make love to her. But it wasn't adultery,it was seduction.
    Mumbi is also a woman who doesn't dwell in guilt. She was remorseful for what she did with Karanja,so she did penance. She entered the rain,cried and refused to take shelter,this symbolizes that she accepted guilt and was ready to face the consequences.

         Comparism and contrast of white and black female characters.
     Magery Thompson is a white woman of importance in the novel. She is a neglected,empty headed and typical colonial wife of John Thompson. Her frustrattion led her to make dvances toward Karanja in the beginning of the novel,just as it has previously sent her into the arms of Dr Van Duke.
     In comparing the characters of Magery and Mumbi,both have committed adultery against their spouse. But the contrast is that Mumbi did not deliberately commit adultery while Magery committed adultery out of loneiless as her husband does not really have time for her.






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