A Grain of Wheat Chapters 4-5 Summary & Analysis

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

A Grain of Wheat

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A Grain of Wheat Chapters 4-5 Summary & Analysis

Part II

Chapter Four Summary

A Mr. Rogers, who was later killed at the Githima railway crossing, had established a forestry research station at the forests at Githima. The most recent death at this crossing was Dr. Henry Van Dyke, a drunken meteorologist who may have been hit accidentally or purposefully – he had sworn that he would leave Kenya when Jomo Kenyatta was released from detention, and that had recently occurred.

Karanja, who works in the library at the agricultural office, is summoned to visit John Thompson, who asks him to deliver a letter to his wife. Karanja laments that he often has to run petty errands such as this for Thompson or for the librarian, Mrs. Dickinson, who sometimes sends him to buy meat for her dogs. Karanja arrives at the Thompson’s bungalow and sees Margery Thompson tending to her rose garden. She invites Karanja inside the house and feels a sexual stirring in Karanja’s presence. She invites him to have a cup of coffee. Meanwhile, Karanja wonders if he should ask her whether she and her husband would be leaving Kenya and returning to Great Britain with the Uhuru approaching. Making small talk, Margery asks Karanja how many wives he has (none) and whether he has a woman (Karanja says he loved a woman once, but she rejected him). Uncomfortable, Margery dismisses him. As he returns to the library, Karanja wishes that others had witnessed his closeness to the Thompsons, so he could gain more respect in the eyes of his countrymen.

In his office, John Thompson considers that in just a few days he will leave Kenya. He is saddened by the realization that he has not served his country – his prime minister or his queen – better. Looking out the window, he notices Dr. Lynd’s dog, a bullmastiff, go after one of the Africans servants. The man picked up a stone to throw it at the dog when Dr. Lynd returned and chastised the man for attacking her dog. The man is Karanja (although Thompson does not seem to register this fact at first). Thompson steps forward…

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