"Weep Not Child" Book Summary

by Asha Kalyani

"Weep Not Child" is a moving story set in Kenya during the Mau Mau rebellion.

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"Weep Not Child" was the first novel written by Kenyan author Ngugi Wa Thiong'o . With a simple narrative style, this moving book draws readers into the story of characters whose lives and relationships are affected by the Mau Mau war. The book traces the experiences of main character Njoroge, whose life is marked by joys but also by intense sorrow and challenges.

Characters

Njoroge is a young boy who, at the encouragement of his mother, is the first in his family to ever attend school. Other important characters are Njoroge's family members: his mother Nyokabi, his father Ngotho, his brothers Boro, Kamau, Kori and Mwangi, and his father's first wife Njere. The family also has important interactions with Jacobo, a fellow African whose land Njoroge's family lives on. Mwihaki, the daughter of Jacobo, becomes an important part of Njoroge's life and story. The family farms on the land of a white settler, Mr. Howlands, who has greatly contributed to Jacobo's wealth.

Bright Beginning

The first part of "Weep Not Child" seems bright with hope when young Njoroge, who dreams of attending university one day, is allowed to attend school. At school, Njoroge befriends Jacobo's daughter Mwihaki. Meanwhile, his father works the fields of Mr. Howlands. A foreboding sense of many Africans' deep discontent with the colonial system is revealed one day when Ngotho, Njoroge's father, tells the family a story about how the land they farm on -- which now belongs to white settlers -- used to belong to their own ancestors.

Dark Times

The story transitions when Ngotho participates in a strike held by black workers in which Jacobo is seriously injured and promises to get revenge. After this clash, Mwihaki is moved to an all-girls school, leaving Njoroge without his good friend. Subsequently, Jacobo tries to imprison Ngotho's family, claiming that Ngotho is the ringleader of the Mau Mau, a group rebelling against the colonial powers of the day. Eventually, Jacobo is found murdered in his office by a member of the Mau Mau. After the murder, Njoroge is taken brought in for questioning and he and Ngotho are both beaten severely. Soon the truth is uncovered: Njoroges brothers are Mau Mau leaders and were responsible for Jacobo's death. As his dreams for getting an education crumble and it becomes clear that he will never have the relationship he wants with Mwihaki, Njoroge becomes completely disillusioned. He decides to take his own life, but his mother finds him before he is able to follow through with his plans to hang himself.

Themes

"Weep Not Child" gives readers a glimpse into the clash between colonial powers and the nationalist movements that confronted them. It also presents the difficult realities of life in this circumstance, as Njoroge's dreams of getting a university education are shattered by his family's involvement with the anti-colonial Mau Mau group, and by the deaths and imprisonment of his family members.

About the Author

Asha Kalyani has more than seven years of experience writing about linguistics, language learning and many other educational and cultural topics. She received a Master of Arts in applied linguistics and enjoys teaching and interacting with people of all language and cultural backgrounds.

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