The River Between

by

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

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Miriamu Character Analysis

Miriamu is Joshua’s wife and Nyambura and Muthoni’s mother. Although Miriamu respects Joshua, she primarily fears him. He often beats her because she is circumcised, even though she was circumcised long before they were married, as all women in the tribe are. When Muthoni dies of an infection following her own circumcision, Miriamu grieves for her lost daughter and appreciates Waiyaki’s care for her, contrasting with Joshua’s callous dismissal of his daughter’s death. However, although she respects Waiyaki, Miriamu begs Nyambura not to marry him, since defying the will of the tribe will cause yet more pain and trouble in their family from the other villager’s in addition to Joshua’s outrage.

Miriamu Quotes in The River Between

The The River Between quotes below are all either spoken by Miriamu or refer to Miriamu. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Colonialism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The River Between published in 2015.
Chapter 6 Quotes

“Father and Mother are circumcised. Are they not Christians? Circumcision did not prevent them from being Christians. I too have embraced the white man’s faith. However, I know it is beautiful, oh so beautiful to be initiated into womanhood. You learn the ways of the tribe. Yes, the white man’s God does not quite satisfy me. I want, I need something more.”

Related Characters: Muthoni (speaker), Nyambura, Joshua, Miriamu
Related Symbols: Circumcision
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

Joshua was such a staunch man of God and such a firm believer in the Old Testament, that he would never refrain from punishing a sin, even if this meant beating his wife. He did not mind as long as he was executing God’s justice.

Related Characters: Joshua, Miriamu, Kabonyi
Related Symbols: Circumcision
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

[Miriamu’s] faith and belief in God were coupled with her fear of Joshua. But that was religion and it was the way things were ordered. However, one could tell by her eyes that this was a religion learned and accepted; inside, the true Gikuyu woman was sleeping.

Related Characters: Miriamu, Joshua, Muthoni
Related Symbols: Circumcision
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
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Miriamu Character Timeline in The River Between

The timeline below shows where the character Miriamu appears in The River Between. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
...ceremonies. Joshua views female circumcision as the “unforgivable sin” and laments that his own wife, Miriamu was circumcised before they were married. He often beats her for it, believing that he... (full context)
Chapter 8
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
...Nyambura fears that Muthoni is carrying out her plan. Joshua goes to bed early, but Miriamu, still awake, wonders where Muthoni is. Miriamu obeys Christianity’s tenets out of her fear of... (full context)
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Progress Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
As Joshua rages at Miriamu, who cannot find Muthoni, Nyambura finally admits that Muthoni has gone to their aunt in... (full context)
Chapter 10
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Progress Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
...becomes delirious, Waiyaki and some helpers carry her to the hospital in Siriana. Nyambura tells Miriamu that her daughter is terribly ill. (full context)
Chapter 11
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Muthoni dies in Siriana. Waiyaki returns to Kameno to inform Nyambura and Miriamu. Before she died, Muthoni had told Waiyaki to tell Nyambura that she “see[s] Jesus” and... (full context)
Chapter 21
Christianity, Tribal Customs, and Identity Theme Icon
Unity and Division Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 25
Unity and Division Theme Icon
Miriamu and Kinuthia fear for Waiyaki and Nyambura. Although Kinuthia tried to protect her, men had... (full context)