61 pages 2 hours read

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

Petals of Blood

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1977

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Character Analysis

Godfrey Munira

Godfrey Munira is one of the protagonists and the central character in the text, around whom the bulk of the events occur. He is imprisoned at the start of the text, and through flashbacks, retells the events of the last 12 years, beginning when he first came to Ilmorog.

He comes to Ilmorog to be a schoolteacher, leaving behind his father’s wealth and his wife and two children in Limuru. He is often troubled by his relationship with his father, feeling as though he has disappointed him by being expelled from Siriana and pursuing teaching. His other siblings are more successful in the fields of banking, medicine, and business. When he visits his father, it is clear that his father is disappointed in him. His one sister, Mukami, becomes important in the text when she dies by suicide after an ill-fated relationship with Karega.

Munira is a tragic character throughout the text despite his best efforts to do good and find his place in the world. His actions are riddled with ironic contradictions; he often feels one way despite evidence showing otherwise or expresses one desire but acts contrary to it. As a result, he feels unfulfilled and disappointed. For example, when he comes to Ilmorog, he is troubled by the idea that he is an “outsider” despite winning the approval of the village and growing the school to the point where there are several classes and teachers at the text’s end.

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