One Monday during the third term of Njoroge’s school year, he is pulled out of class by armed officers and whisked away to a homeguard outpost known as the “House of Pain,” where a guard interrogates him harshly before smacking him in the face when he claims to have never taken the Mau Mau oath. “Do you know Boro?” the guard demands. “Where is he?” When Njoroge says he doesn’t know where his brother is, the guards take him out of the room, and he passes out from their beating.
Finally, Boro’s involvement with the Mau Mau has caught up to Njoroge. Although his entire family supports his educational pursuits, the feud between Ngotho (and Boro) and Jacobo is now interfering with his ability to work toward the better future he so intensely clings to. As such, readers once again see the harmful effects of division and violence.
Later that night, Njoroge awakes to the sound of a woman screaming and wonders if it’s one of his mothers. Certain he’s going to die, he’s hauled into an interrogation room the following day and asked again if he has taken the Mau Mau oath. At one point during the questioning, he realizes that Mr. Howlands is also there, watching him. Advancing upon Njoroge, the white man says, “Who murdered Jacobo?” When Njoroge is unable to answer, Mr. Howlands grabs Njoroge’s testicles and puts a pair of pincers against his scrotum, saying, “You’ll be castrated like your father. Tell us. Who really sent you to collect information in Jacobo’s house about…?” Njoroge doesn’t listen to the rest of the sentence. “You know your father says he murdered Jacobo,” Howlands says. He then watches as the boy passes out from pain, collapsing on the floor.
During this scene, Ngũgĩ reveals that Jacobo has been killed. Considering the fact that Boro has recently stated his desire to murder both Jacobo and Howlands, he’s most likely the one who committed the crime. As such, readers see once again that Njoroge is suffering because of his family members’ unquenchable thirst for revenge. On another note, the fact that Howlands has castrated Ngotho mirrors Ngotho’s obsession with pride and shame. Indeed, his castration represents his own macho insecurities about his inability to protect his family.
Shortly thereafter, Ngotho himself wakes up but can’t tell if it’s daytime or nighttime. The wounds from his castration are so sore that he can hardly move positions. “In spite of his pain, however, he never regretted the death of Jacobo,” Ngũgĩ writes. “In fact, immediately after Jacobo’s death, Ngotho felt grateful.” However, he soon heard that Kamau had been arrested as a suspect in the murder. “For a day and a half he had remained irresolute,” Ngũgĩ explains. “But at night he knew what to do.” Summoning his courage, Ngotho walked directly to Howlands’s office and said that he was the one who killed Jacobo, and even after extreme torture, he refused to change his story.
Ngũgĩ has already established that Ngotho alternates between inaction and action. Indeed, he is often motivated to do something bold after having failed to stand up for himself or his family on a previous occasion. Wanting to prove himself after having let guards arrest Njeri and Kori for breaking curfew, he marches to Howlands’s house and confesses to a crime he didn’t commit. In turn, it once again becomes clear that he lets notions of pride and honor (or guilt and shame) guide his decisions.