Weep Not, Child

by

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

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Weep Not, Child: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After Kori is arrested, things only get worse. “No one could tell when he might be arrested for breaking the curfew,” Ngũgĩ writes, explaining that it becomes too dangerous to even walk across a courtyard after dark. “It was said that some European soldiers were catching people at night, and having taken them to the forest would release them and ask them to find their way back home. But when their backs were turned they would be shot dead in cold blood. The next day this would be announced as a victory over Mau Mau,” Ngũgĩ notes. Njoroge, for his part, lives in fear of an attack at school, but he doesn’t let this shake his concentration. He is only one year away from taking the exam that will determine whether or not he’ll go to secondary school.
Ngũgĩ begins this chapter by showing readers just how bad the situation between the white settlers and the rest of Kenya has gotten. Indeed, the colonialists are murdering people in order to manipulate public opinion against the Mau Mau. In turn, readers see once again how hard the white settlers are trying to sow discord and division amongst Kenyans so that they can’t unite and advocate for themselves as a cohesive whole.
Themes
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Mwihaki has been away at boarding school, but even when she’s home on break, Njoroge avoids her. “How could he have met her when her father and his were enemies in public?” he wonders. Unfortunately, avoiding her makes him lonely, so he goes one day to visit Kamau, who tells him that the barber and five other men were abducted in the middle of the night and shot in the forest. One of them, he says, was Nganga. When Njoroge asks if the white settlers are responsible for this, Kamau replies, “Who can tell these days who kills who?” This unsettles Njoroge, who wonders if the barber and Nganga were part of the Mau Mau. “Would his home be next?” he thinks. “Boro was said to have gone to the forest. Njoroge shuddered to think about it.”
Once again, readers see the damaging effects of division on the Kenyan community, as Njoroge finds himself unable to even spend time with Mwihaki because of the turmoil that has taken place between their fathers. What’s more, Njoroge is forced to worry about his own safety, since Boro is part of the Mau Mau, meaning that their family might be targeted. 
Themes
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Two days later, Njoroge encounters Mwihaki on the road. “I’m so lonely here,” she admits, and though he knows it’s a bad idea, he feels obligated to invite her to meet him the following Sunday. When she asks where, he decides that the church would be the most “suitable place,” and they agree to walk there together. When Sunday finally comes, they walk in silence, each one painfully aware of the tension between their fathers but unwilling to bring it up. As for Mwihaki, she doesn’t know what to think about the entire ordeal, but she assumes her father must be in the right.
Despite their differences, Mwihaki and Njoroge manage to spend time together without bringing up all of the hate and vengeance that has taken place between their two families. More than anything, this is a testament to their willingness to focus on the positive, as they are both bound by their hope for the future and by their investment in education, which lends them a sense of connection instead of opposition or antagonism.
Themes
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
In church, Njoroge is surprised to find Isaka, who delivers a Bible passage about war and calamity, upholding that trouble is coming. “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved,” he reads before delivering the final line: “This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled…” In the aftermath of his words, Njoroge and Mwihaki feel as if “darkness” has “fallen into the building.” Afterwards, they walk and talk about the service. “Do you think what he said was true?” Mwihaki asks, and Njoroge insists that all of what Isaka said will surely come to pass. This upsets Mwihaki so much that, when they reach her house, she begs him to come inside. And when Njoroge begins to protest, she says, “I know. It’s because father is chief”—a line that makes Njoroge feel so guilty that he follows her inside.
As previously established, Njoroge invests himself in religion in the same way that he invests himself in education, ultimately believing that both might help him make progress in life. This is why he unflinchingly accepts what Isaka preaches, untroubled by the idea that “darkness” and calamity are sure to descend upon the land. Mwihaki, on the other hand, is somewhat less invested in the hope of a better future, and this is why she’s upset by Isaka’s words about calamity and destruction, for she is less optimistic than Njoroge about what’s to come.
Themes
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
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Inside, Njoroge observes the European style of Mwihaki’s house. As he looks at pictures on the wall, Jacobo appears behind him and asks, “How’s school?” “’Tis all right,” Njoroge replies, beginning a stilted conversation about his studies. “I hope you do well,” Jacobo says after a moment. “It is such as you who must work hard and rebuild our country.” And although this stirs something inside of him—a sense of pride at the idea of rebuilding the country—his excitement quickly dies when he looks quickly at the guards flanking Jacobo. “Their red jerseys reminded him of the dead barber,” Ngũgĩ writes.
The fact that Jacobo offers encouraging words to Njoroge suggests that he—like Njoroge’s own father—believes in the value of education. This investment in Kenya’s youth and in academics, it seems, is something that even enemies can agree upon. Nevertheless, this shared worldview doesn’t make up for the fact that Jacobo and Ngotho are foes, and this is why Njoroge finds himself incapable of ignoring the armed guards at Jacobo’s side.
Themes
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
After Njoroge speaks with Jacobo, he and Mwihaki go outside, where Mwihaki lies on the grass while Njoroge sits beside her. Once again, they talk about the horrifying things Isaka said in church, and Mwihaki rehashes how frightened she is of the idea of violence and calamity. She then tells him that what truly worries her is her father. “He used to be so kind and gentle, especially with me. He annoyed me sometimes of course but that was nothing. […] But now he is uncommunicative. The gun and the pistol he carries make him a stranger to me,” she says, adding that she hates to think about whether or not Jacobo has killed a person. With this, she breaks into tears.
The reason that Mwihaki is less optimistic about the future might have something to do with the fact that she has seen firsthand how violence has changed her father. Having witnessed Jacobo go from being “kind and gentle” to “uncommunicative” and darkly violent, she understands the gravity of the current cultural and political landscape, knowing how much the turmoil between the settlers and the Mau Mau can alter a person for the worse.
Themes
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
When Mwihaki stops crying, Njoroge eventually tells her that he believes things will get better. “Peace shall come to this land!” he says, and when she asks if he really believes this, he says, “Yes. Sunshine always follows a dark night. We sleep knowing and trusting that the sun will rise tomorrow.” However, Mwihaki laughs at this, saying she’d rather “think of today,” at which point she puts her hand on Njoroge’s neck and shakes him, saying, “Suppose you and I go from here so that we come back when the dark night is over…” After thinking for a moment, though, Njoroge says he couldn’t possibly leave behind his family. Nevertheless, he promises to come see her when she next returns from boarding school.
With very little to invest herself in, Mwihaki tries to put her faith in the present instead of fantasizing about the future. While this is perhaps a jaded way of thinking, it’s worth noting that Mwihaki hasn’t lost all hope, as she clearly still believes in the value of love. This is why she proposes that she and Njoroge elope: she wants to honor her feelings for him instead of living in a context that forces her to avoid him as if he’s her enemy. However, because Njoroge has retained his somewhat idealistic ideas about the power of education and religion, he is unwilling to give up on his original plans to become educated and uplift his family.
Themes
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