Weep Not, Child

by

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

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One of Njoroge’s older brothers. A brooding and traumatized young man, Boro has seen terrible violence in World War II, in which he fought for the British without believing in the cause. Worse, Boro lost his half-brother, Mwangi, with whom he was extremely close. Since then, he has remained uncommunicative and angry, rarely speaking about the war except to curse the fact that the white settlers forced him and his people to fight. Boro also chastises his father, Ngotho, for failing to stand up for his family when the white settlers first took their ancestral lands. In turn, Ngotho ends up trying to prove himself by attacking Jacobo—an act that leads his family into a feud with Jacobo that consumes them all. In fact, after Boro runs away to join (and eventually become the leader of) the Mau Mau, he returns to his village and kills Jacobo, feeling as if the only thing that matters in life is that he kill his enemies. Because of this, Mr. Howlands arrests Boro’s entire family and tortures both Ngotho and Njoroge. After Boro sneaks back home to watch his father die (since Howlands eventually releases Ngotho), he becomes so enraged that he runs to Mr. Howlands’s house and murders him before finally getting captured himself.

Boro Quotes in Weep Not, Child

The Weep Not, Child quotes below are all either spoken by Boro or refer to Boro. 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:
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Weep Not, Child published in 1964.
Chapter 2 Quotes

When the war came to an end, Boro had come home, no longer a boy but a man with experience and ideas, only to find that for him there was to be no employment. There was no land on which he could settle, even if he had been able to do so. As he listened to this story, all these things came into his mind with a growing anger. How could these people have let the white man occupy the land without acting? And what was all this superstitious belief in a prophecy?

In a whisper that sounded like a shout, he said, “To hell with the prophecy.”

Yes, this was nothing more than a whisper. To his father, he said, “How can you continue working for a man who has taken your land? How can you go on serving him?”

He walked out, without waiting for an answer.

Related Characters: Boro (speaker), Ngotho, Mr. Howlands
Related Symbols: The Land
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

“Education is everything,” Ngotho said. Yet he doubted this because he knew deep inside his heart that land was everything. Education was good only because it would lead to the recovery of the lost lands.

Ngotho rarely complained. He had all his life lived under the belief that something big would happen. That was why he did not want to be away from the land that belonged to his ancestors. That was really why he had faithfully worked for Mr Howlands, tending the soil carefully and everything that was in it. His son had come and with one stroke had made him doubt that very allegiance to Mr Howlands and the soil. And with this doubt had now come an old man’s fear of his son. Boro had changed. This was all because of the war. Ngotho felt the war had dealt ill with him. It had killed one son! And the other was accusing him.

Related Characters: Ngotho (speaker), Njoroge, Mr. Howlands, Boro
Related Symbols: The Land
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

Ngotho did not speak much. He sat in his own corner and Njoroge could not tell if he was listening to what was going on. Ngotho was changing. Soon after the strike Boro quarrelled much with the old man. He accused him of having spoilt everything by his rash action in spite of Kiarie’s warning. Boro clearly had contempt for Ngotho. But he had never expressed it in words except on those two occasions. Since then, he had become more critical of Ngotho. Ngotho, as a result, had diminished in stature, often assuming a defensive secondary place whenever talking with his sons and their friends. For months he had remained in this position, often submitting unflinchingly to his son. And then Boro thought that he could make the old man submit to his will. But Ngotho made a determined resistance. He would not take the Mau Mau oath at his son’s hands or instruction. There had been a bitter quarrel and Boro had stayed for a long time without coming home.

Related Characters: Njoroge, Ngotho, Jacobo, Boro, Kiarie
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

But what could he have done? He had to go on strike. He had not wanted to be accused by a son anymore, because when a man was accused by the eyes of his son who had been to war and had witnessed the death of a brother, he felt guilty. But Ngotho had always wanted to be gentle with Boro because he knew that the son must have been sorely tried in the war. The something that had urged him to fight against Jacobo certainly had no logic. But it alienated Boro further still.

Related Characters: Ngotho, Jacobo, Boro
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

“The white man makes a law or a rule. Through that rule or law or whatever you may call it, he takes away the land and then imposes many laws on the people concerning that land and many other things, all without people agreeing first as in the old days of the tribe. Now a man rises and opposes that law which made right the taking away of land. Now that man is taken by the same people who made the laws against which that man was fighting. He is tried under those alien rules. Now tell me who is that man who can win even if the angels of God were his lawyers . . . I mean.”

Related Characters: Njeri (speaker), Njoroge, Boro, Jomo Kenyatta
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

Boro had always told himself that the real reason for his flight to the forest was a desire to fight for freedom. But this fervour had soon worn off. His mission became a mission of revenge. This was the only thing that could now give him fire and boldness. If he killed a single white man, he was exacting a vengeance for a brother killed.

“And freedom?” the lieutenant continued.

“An illusion. What freedom is there for you and me?”

“Why then do we fight?”

“To kill. Unless you kill, you'll be killed. So you go on killing and destroying. It's a law of nature. The white man too fights and kills with gas, bombs, and everything.”

Related Characters: Boro (speaker)
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:
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Weep Not, Child PDF

Boro Character Timeline in Weep Not, Child

The timeline below shows where the character Boro appears in Weep Not, Child. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...family to listen to stories. Included in this group are his older brothers, Kori and Boro. “Boro, who had been to the war, did not know many tribal stories,” Ngũgĩ writes.... (full context)
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Land Ownership and Power Theme Icon
On this particular night, many family members are present. “Boro, Kori, and Kamau were all sons of Njeri, Ngotho’s eldest wife,” Ngũgĩ writes. “Njoroge’s only... (full context)
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Pride and Honor vs. Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
Land Ownership and Power Theme Icon
Listening to his father, Boro thinks about how Ngotho “fought in the war only to be dispossessed.” “He too had... (full context)
Chapter 3
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Pride and Honor vs. Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
Land Ownership and Power Theme Icon
Walking to the work the next day, Ngotho thinks about Boro’s words. For years, he has been waiting for the prophecy to come true, but now... (full context)
Chapter 4
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Pride and Honor vs. Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
Land Ownership and Power Theme Icon
...the prophecy will someday come true and drive white settlers out of Kenya. Now, though, Boro has made him doubt that this will ever happen. Listening to his father talk about... (full context)
Chapter 5
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Land Ownership and Power Theme Icon
Boro and Kori leave home to live in Nairobi. After their departure, Kamau and Njoroge contemplate... (full context)
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Land Ownership and Power Theme Icon
...hill toward home. On their way, Njoroge asks Kamau who Jomo is, and Kamau answers, “Boro called him the black Moses.” That night, Njoroge falls asleep thinking about how he wants... (full context)
Chapter 6
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
When Kori and Boro visit home, they bring friends from Nairobi—friends who are politically active and passionate about the... (full context)
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Kiarie, one of Boro’s friends, speaks convincingly about the strike, insisting that he and his fellow Kenyans will successfully... (full context)
Chapter 8
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Pride and Honor vs. Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
...enters Njeri’s hut and senses tension. Before he asks what’s wrong, though, he sees that Boro has come home. “Do you think he is safe?” Njeri asks Boro, interrupting Njoroge as... (full context)
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Pride and Honor vs. Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
...Ngotho sits quietly in the corner. “Ngotho was changing,” Ngũgĩ notes. “Soon after the strike Boro quarreled much with the old man. He accused him of having spoilt everything by his... (full context)
Chapter 9
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Land Ownership and Power Theme Icon
...his part, is shocked to hear Njeri speak so passionately. “All white people stick together,” Boro interjects. “But we black people are very divided. And because they stick together, they’ve imprisoned... (full context)
Chapter 10
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
...“What has he done?” Howlands asks, and Jacobo says that he believes his sons—and particularly Boro—“are bringing trouble in the village.” As such, he suggests that they arrest Boro and Kori... (full context)
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Pride and Honor vs. Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
...cowardice, cowardice of the worst sort.” “I know it is Jacobo,” he says, and when Boro comes home and hears the news, he yells, “And you again did nothing?” before rushing... (full context)
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Pride and Honor vs. Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
...Despite this outcome, Jacobo is disappointed, since the person he truly wants to capture is Boro. Nevertheless, he doesn’t “lose hope.” Meanwhile, Ngotho wallows in guilt, and Njoroge is sure that... (full context)
Chapter 11
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
...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.” (full context)
Chapter 12
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Land Ownership and Power Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Boro has a conversation with a Mau Mau lieutenant while sitting in a new hideout in... (full context)
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Pressing on, the Mau Mau lieutenant asks Boro if he believes in freedom. “An illusion,” Boro replies. “What freedom is there for you... (full context)
Chapter 15
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 16
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Pride and Honor vs. Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
As Ngotho laments the fact that Boro left because he discovered that he was a useless father, Boro himself appears in the... (full context)
Chapter 17
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Pride and Honor vs. Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
...that the customers all know his family’s tragic story. He’s also aware that they know Boro snuck into Mr. Howlands’s house and killed him. “Put up your hands,” Boro said to... (full context)
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Pride and Honor vs. Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
“I killed Jacobo,” Boro told Mr. Howlands as he pointed the gun. “He betrayed black people. Together, you killed... (full context)
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Pride and Honor vs. Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
Barring certain specific details, everyone in town knows this story about how Boro killed Mr. Howlands. As such, Njoroge has trouble interacting with the customers in the market,... (full context)
Chapter 18
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
After listening to Njoroge, Mwihaki expresses her doubt that he knew nothing about Boro’s plans to kill Jacobo. “Mwihaki, I don’t want to pretend that I would have warned... (full context)