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A Grain of Wheat...The Theme of Betrayal

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A Grain of Wheat...The Theme of Betrayal

Post by Ezinma on Thu May 21, 2009 7:13 pm

A Grain of Wheat is Ngugi’s novel, an African writer. This novel is about the Mau Mau independence war. It tells the story of four principal characters who relieve, vividly,
their experiences of the war in the four days leading up to the day of Kenyan independence, 12 December 1963.One of the most dominant themes that Ngugi tries to transmit through his masterpiece, A Grain of Wheat, is betrayal. This latter is mainly depicted via four different characters : Mugo, Gikonyo and his wife; Mumbi, and Karanja.

Ngugi evokes complex responses toward Mugo. His betrayal of Kihika, the leader of the
movement, is induced partly by his jealousy, partly because the disruption in the land threatens his determination never again to experience the destitution of his childhood. Kihika is brought up in the bosom of his family and friends. He also has the opportunity to go to school. All these encourage him to live for his holy target, Uhuru. Whereas, Mugo has non of these. He is orphan and left lonely to live with his heartless aunt, Waitherero. When his aunt passes away, he becomes a destitute person, filled with fear, hatred, and lack of self confidence, haunted by the image of his own inadequacy.Another reason for Mugo’s betrayal of Kihika is simply because he wants not to be drawn into the connection with other people. All of this is summed up in his confessional speech at the novel’s
close :
" I wanted to live my life. I never wanted to be involved in anything. Then he came into my life, here, a night like this, and pulled me into the stream. So I kiled him. » (P161).

Mugo’s betrayal of Kihika is, however, in some part mitigated by the suffering he experiences in the various detention camps he is put in for his bravery in rescuing Wambuku, Kihika’s lover, in the trench. But reader’s sympathy for him really proceeds from
Ngugi’s skill in taking him into a mind that is collapsing under the burden of guilt it bears.Mugo eventually unloads this burden on Mumbi, Kihika’s sister, who then shares his guilt, and withholdes it from the rest of the community, easing his solitary penance as she does so.

Furthermore , Ngugi conveys the theme of betrayal in Gikonyo and Mumbi .Both of them
felt guilty , for both have broken their oaths:Gikonyo of loyalty to Mau Mau movement , and Mumbi the marital vow.Gikonyo goes to prison with a firm faith in the useful outcome of the emergency :
«Gikonyo walked towards detention with a brisk
step and an assurance born in his knowledge of love and life .This thing would
end soon , anyway …».

In prison , Gikonyo builds up the image of Mumbi alive in his mind.she provides a source of inspiration grearter than that of patriotism .His longing for her is so all-consuming that he betrays his oath of loyalty to the cause of freedom in order to return to her .When he comes back , he cannot reconcile himself to Mumbi's unfaithfulness and is haunted by visions of Mumbi responding passionately to Karanja's body .

Although Mumbi commits adultry,she doesn't mean to betray her husband .Mumbi has been left unprotected in the midst of a desperate crisis , lonely and hungry .For six years she has lived for the day when he will return pick up the threads and make life begin anew.Eventually ,she gives herself to karanja at the time when he brings her the news of Gikonyo's release from prison , the sexual encounter became the ultimate extension of her supreme joy in hearing of her husband's release .

Gikonyo's anger with his disaffection for her .He doesn't want to listen to her excuses and decided not to open his heart for her any more .When his mother –wangari-sees that both Gikonyo and Mumbi are suffering , she says some words reducing his pain :

«see how you have broken your home .You have driven a good woman to misery for nothing , let us now see what profit will bring you , to go on piosoning your mind with these things when you should have accepted and sought how best to build your life . But you, like a foolish child , have never wanted to know what happened.Or what woman Mumbi really is ».


Moreover, Mugo's confession of his betrayal makes Gikonyo understand's his wife's so his decision to carve the stool for Mumbi indicates that he can forgive and forget the past and his love for Mumbi has returned :
«… then he sank back to bed.He thought about the wedding gift , a stool carved from Muiri wood.I'll change the woman's figure.I shall carve a woman big –big with
child»
In addition, Ngugi gives another example of betrayal through Karanja. Karanja is among those men who traitorously choose to side with British colonialists. He joins the

homeguards instead of taking the oath of the Mau Mau movement. He becomes known
for his cruelty in the treatment of his own people :

« That is when Karanja became a Chief. Soon he proved himself more more terrifying than the one before him. He led other homeguards into the forest to hunt down the Freedom Fighters. It was also during his rule that even the few remaining fit men were taken from the village to detention camps. He became very strict with
curfew laws and forced communal work. » ( p143).


Moreover, Karanja has an ongoing competition with Gikonyo that stems from both an attraction to Mumbi. Hence, while Gikonyo is at the detention camps, Karanja takes the
opportunity to betray him by making love to his wife, Mumbi :

« One day Karanja sent for me to his house. It was on Thursday, i remeber…
I went there and I swore that if he tried anything on me, I would get a piece of wood and strike him hard…Then he said : ‘‘ Your husband is coming’’ » (p146).

When Mumbi hears that her husband is coming, she becoms huppy as if she is mad. Karanja takes the chance on making love to her, as he knows that she is not able to control
herself, and she responds passionately to his desire. On the other hand, though, Wairimu, Karanja’s mother, warns and advises her son not to follow the British, or he pays a heavy cost for his betrayal of his own people :
« Don’t go against the people. A man who ignores the voice of his own people comes to no good end. » ( p222 ).
when Uhuru Day has come, it has produced freedom, freedom of an unexpected kind, for Kenyan people. But no such freedom comes to Karanja. He escapes the punishment that
Genera R., Mau Mau leader, prepares for him, only to leave with the remembrance
of the evil deeds he has done, forever
« conscious…of many angry eyes watching him in the dark » ( p200).

As a conclusio, A Grain of Wheat is a great advance in Ngugi’s development as a novelist, and this appears in the interrelated betrayals and their consequent effect on Ngugi's four characters. The latter had been involved in the events that led to Uhuru, and were slaves to the memories of their own personal inadequacies. Mugo becomes an outsider fraught with guilt, confusion, and a great remorse. Giconyo, despite Mumbi’s betrayal, he is able to forgive her, and reconsider their relationship. Whereas, Karanja decides to go to live in Githima in order to escape his punishment for his betrayal on the Uhuru Day.


PS: This paper was written by two former Third year students...
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Ezinma

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Re: A Grain of Wheat...The Theme of Betrayal

Post by imy on Fri May 22, 2009 5:14 pm

GREAT EZINMA congratulation first of your style very beatiful.thanks for the information.i hope God will help in realizing your dream.believe me you deserve it.
jouliya
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imy

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Re: A Grain of Wheat...The Theme of Betrayal

Post by Ezinma on Fri May 22, 2009 5:31 pm

You're welcome dear Imy, but I didn't say I wrote the paper...Two former third year students doesn't mean 'me'...Anyway, if I find other papers I try to post them, of course after taking their writers' consent..All rights reserved mo3alim1

Insh'Allah we all succeed in our exams .
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Re: A Grain of Wheat...The Theme of Betrayal

Post by Guest on Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:41 pm

cha3ir1

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Re: A Grain of Wheat...The Theme of Betrayal

Post by R-2B on Mon May 31, 2010 2:16 pm

thanx a lot

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Re: A Grain of Wheat...The Theme of Betrayal

Post by Londonhbb on Mon May 31, 2010 4:20 pm

It's really a kind of u to post it here
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Re: A Grain of Wheat...The Theme of Betrayal

Post by Nacerpro on Mon May 31, 2010 4:39 pm

We r really in need of it, thx a million.
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