A Grain of Wheat Chapters 1-3 Summary & Analysis

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

A Grain of Wheat

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A Grain of Wheat Chapters 1-3 Summary & Analysis

Part I

Chapter One Summary

Mugo wakes from a fitful sleep and walks through the village of Thabai, which was established only eight years earlier when the British rulers forced the people from their homes on the surrounding ridges into this central location. As he walks through the village, Mugo is greeted excitedly by others who are anticipating Kenya’s forthcoming Uhuru, or day of independence. One of these people is the one-legged Githua, who regards Mugo as a hero.

Mugo passed the hut of the old woman whose son, Gitongo, was killed at the beginning of the Emergency. Gitongo, deaf and dumb, was frightened by the arrival of the British soldiers and rushed through the village to protect his mother. A soldier ordered him to stop, but Gitongo, unaware, kept going and was shot down. Since Mugo’s release from detention, he has visited the old woman, but became frightened by the way she looked at him.

As Mugo begins to work the soil, he remembers his childhood. After his parents died, he was left in the care of an aunt who was often drunk and took out her problems on young Mugo. One night Mugo fantasized about strangling his aunt with his bare hands, but was prevented when she began laughing at him.

Mugo returns home for the day and is settling into his customary solitude when there is a knock at the door. Startled, Mugo opens the door to find members of the Party – the Movement – have come to visit him.

Chapter Two Summary

The Movement could be traced back to the time when British settlers arrived in Kenya, holding Bibles and claiming to be messengers of the Lord. The Kikuyu were at first interested in the stories of these white men, because they too had a female ruler of their land in the past. Although the religious beliefs of the white man were puzzling – why would a god let himself be crucified? – some of the people were converted. The white men began acquiring more and more land and erecting permanent structures. The Kikuyu realized they were losing a foothold in…

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