The River Between

by

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

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The River Between: Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the weeks after Nyambura rejects Waiyaki’s proposal, she grows despondent and increasingly irritable toward Joshua. She resents him and his religious fervor. She wants to rebel like Muthoni and marry Waiyaki but fears her father and lacks Muthoni’s courage. Sensing this, Miriamu warns Nyambura not to cause their family trouble by being with Waiyaki. Nyambura goes to the river hoping to see Waiyaki but knowing she will not. The river no longer gives her the same sense of comfort. When she returns home, Joshua threatens that if she sees Waiyaki again, he will disown her. Nyambura feels that she has lost Waiyaki, and with him, her salvation. She asks God to kill her.
Nyambura’s growing resentment toward Joshua and his Christian zeal indicates that she is growing closer to abandoning it altogether. Just as the Kiama exerts pressure on Waiyaki to conform, Miriamu’s warning that Nyambura must not be with Waiyaki suggest that Christianity exerts pressure on Nyambura to conform and submit to its control. Once again, Joshua’s threat to disown Nyambura suggests that he cares more about exercising his authority than caring for his daughter.
Themes
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon