Weep Not, Child


Ngugi wa Thiong’o

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Nyokabi Character Analysis

Njoroge’s mother, and one of Ngotho’s two wives (the other being Njeri). Nyokabi is the reason Njoroge ends up going to school, since she is the person who insists it would be a good idea for him to get an education. She does this because she sees it as an honor to have a son who has received a formal education and can speak and write in English. When Ngotho contemplates joining the workers’ strike, Nyokabi urges him to think about their family, upholding that his first priority should be to provide for his children and wives. After Ngotho dies and the majority of Njoroge’s brothers are imprisoned, Nyokabi goes looking for Njoroge, who has decided to commit suicide. Calling his name, she coaxes him out of the woods and away from the noose he has prepared, ultimately convincing him—without saying much—to focus on the fact that he still has both his mothers.

Nyokabi Quotes in Weep Not, Child

The Weep Not, Child quotes below are all either spoken by Nyokabi or refer to Nyokabi. 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

Nyokabi was proud of having a son in school. It made her soul happy and lighthearted whenever she saw him bending double over a slate or recounting to her what he had seen at school. She felt elated when she ordered her son to go and do some reading or some sums. It was to her the greatest reward she would get from her motherhood if she one day found her son writing letters, doing arithmetic, and speaking English.

Related Characters: Njoroge, Nyokabi
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

Njoroge usually stood on this hill whenever he wanted to see his mother or brother coming from a distance. If he saw any of them he ran and helped them carry whatever they had. It did not matter if it was Njeri or any of her sons. The feeling of oneness was a thing that most distinguished Ngotho’s household from many other polygamous families. Njeri and Nyokabi went to the shamba or market together. Sometimes they agreed among themselves that while one did that job the other would do this one. This was attributed to Ngotho, the centre of the home. For if you have a stable centre, then the family will hold.

Related Characters: Njoroge, Ngotho, Nyokabi, Njeri
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

“I must be a man in my own house.”

“Yes—be a man and lose a job.”

“I shall do whatever I like. I have never taken orders from a woman.”

“We shall starve . . .”

“You starve! This strike is important for the black people. We shall get bigger salaries.”

“What's black people to us when we starve?”

Related Characters: Ngotho (speaker), Nyokabi (speaker), Mr. Howlands
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

But as they came near home and what had happened to him came to mind, the voice again came and spoke, accusing him:

You are a coward. You have always been a coward. Why didn’t you do it?

And loudly he said, “Why didn't I do it?”

The voice said: Because you are a coward.

“Yes,” he whispered to himself, “I am a coward.”

And he ran home and opened the door for his two mothers.

Related Characters: Njoroge (speaker), Nyokabi, Njeri
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:
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Nyokabi Character Timeline in Weep Not, Child

The timeline below shows where the character Nyokabi appears in Weep Not, Child. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Pride and Honor vs. Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
Nyokabi calls her son, Njoroge, and asks him if he would like to go to school.... (full context)
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
...say that it had been a terrible waste of life.” When gets home, his wives Nyokabi and Njeri tease him for staying too long in Kipanga, but he ignores them by... (full context)
Chapter 2
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Land Ownership and Power Theme Icon
...notes. However, Njoroge fails to see that the sun is “sinking,” and is startled when Nyokabi appears and anxiously rushes him home. “She did not want her son to associate with... (full context)
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Pride and Honor vs. Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
...his mother to tell him stories, but she tells him to do his homework first. “Nyokabi was proud of having a son in school,” Ngũgĩ explains. “It made her soul happy... (full context)
Chapter 6
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
...family. Wanting to unite with his fellow black workers, he is inclined to strike, but Nyokabi urges him to remain in Mr. Howlands’s employment, saying that the family will starve if... (full context)
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Troubled by Nyokabi’s points, Ngotho slaps her across  the face, at which point Njoroge jumps up and stands... (full context)
Chapter 10
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Pride and Honor vs. Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
Late that night, Ngotho sits in Nyokabi’s hut. Eventually, Kori and Njeri retire to Njeri’s hut, and as they do so, police... (full context)
Division and Conquest Theme Icon
Violence and Revenge Theme Icon
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...will decapitate him along with forty students. When Njoroge brings news of this home to Nyokabi, she tells him not to attend school anymore. However, Kamau says otherwise later that night:... (full context)
Chapter 18
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...tree he’s been eyeing since Ngotho died, and prepares a noose. Then, suddenly, he hears Nyokabi’s voice on the road. “Njoroge!” she calls, her voice “full of anxiety.” Pausing, he listens... (full context)
Hope, Progress, and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Pride and Honor vs. Guilt and Shame Theme Icon
“Let’s go home,” Nyokabi says. As Njoroge walks, he thinks about how he has “failed her” and about Ngotho’s... (full context)