Njoroge sits with his mothers and looks at his father, who opens his eyes for the first time since returning from detainment. “You are here…” Ngotho says to Njoroge. “You come from school,” he says, and Njoroge lies by saying, “Yes, Father.” However, Ngotho then says that Njoroge must have come to “laugh” at him. “Don’t say that, Father,” Njoroge replies. “We owe you everything.” His father then tells him not to ask if he killed Jacobo, and after rambling for a moment, he says, “I am glad you are acquiring learning. Get all of it. They dare not touch you.”
Once again, Ngotho’s fear of shame comes to the forefront of the novel, as he assumes that Njoroge has come to “laugh” at him. In turn, Ngũgĩ shows readers the extent to which this man is disappointed in himself for failing to protect his family before everything got so out of hand. Unable to do anything to help Njoroge now that he’s been so badly injured by the white settlers, Ngotho expresses how happy he is that his son is getting an “education,” which he believes will serve as a kind of protection.
As Ngotho laments the fact that Boro left because he discovered that he was a useless father, Boro himself appears in the entrance of the hut. “Forgive me, Father—I didn’t know—Oh, I thought—” Boro stammers. He then says that he “had to fight” and that he “can’t stay.” These words suddenly rouse Ngotho, who for a moment resembles the person he used to be: “firm, commanding—the centre of his household.” “You must,” he tells his son. “No, Father. Just forgive me,” Boro replies. In response, Ngotho struggles to sit up in bed and puts his hand on Boro’s head. “All right,” he says. “Fight well. […] Peace to you all—[…] Njoroge look…look to your—moth—” With this, Ngotho dies, and Boro races out of the hut, saying, “I should have come earlier…”
When Boro says, “Just forgive me,” readers see that he desperately needs his father’s approval, despite the fact that he criticizes Ngotho so frequently. What’s more, the fact that he refuses to “stay”—instead retreating to the woods to continue fighting for the Mau Mau—indicates once again that he cannot escape the violent life he has entered. Although it would be more courageous to stay with his family and help them survive these tumultuous times, Boro tells himself that he needs to “fight.” This, it seems, is the only way he knows how to respond to hardship.