The Role of Women in " a Grain of Wheat " Essay

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The role of women in "A grain of wheat " Though being a political narrative, the presence of women to strengthen the quality and reality of the novel is undeniable. Critic Abdulzarak Gurnah says: "Ngugi's writing is never far from the subject" and this is perfectly applicable for his description of the African women. However, being rather objective he also points a picture of the white women who though being secondary characters play a certain role in the novel.

Ngugi through the depiction of the ideal patriotic women pays great tribute to the African women especially in those dark days. The strength and courage of certain black women is incontestable in relating the fight for freedom. Ngugi through the persons of Wambui and
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We notes that Mumbi accepts everything from the part of Gikonyo but loses her control when he touched the child, "Mumbi stood up, and for a minute anger blocked her throat." Further the last words of the novel are dedicated to that of a woman and a child, "I shall carve a woman big-big with a child." These words are symbolical since Ngugi uses the word "big" twice to express the grandeur and strength of the African woman who is incomplete without a child.

So as not to fall into extremes, Ngugi did leave some traces of weakness in the portrayal of the black characters. Despite her strength and determination, Mumbi is preyed to temptations as everybody else when she gives herself to Karanja only a few months before Gikonyo arrives. Her weakness on that particular moment with Karanja also serves to illustrate the mood of the Emergency period which consisted of fears, tensions as well as hopes. Such fears and tensions also led to victims of the system who were not strong enough to face the atrocity of reality. Ngugi uses Wambuku who "destroyed herself with soldiers and homeguards, any man" to illustrate how all women were not as strong as others during the Emergency period.

Moreover the role of women in "A grain of wheat", not only implies black characters but