The second wife of Ngotho, a plantation hand and the patriarch of the novel's main family. Nyokabi cares deeply for her children, and strives to maintain peace in the family.
Njoroge is the novel's primary protagonist, and Ngotho's youngest son. He is the first in his family to attend school, and he aspires to use his education to make Kenya a better place. Ngugi describes him as “a dreamer, a visionary who consoled himself faced by the difficulties of the moment by a look at a better day to come” (130). The challenges to his optimism in large part constitute the novel's primary arc.
Njoroge’s slightly older half-brother, and the son of Njeri. He is apprenticed as a carpenter, and thus cannot join Njoroge at school. Because he goes directly into a career, he is forced to mature more quickly than Njoroge does. As his father ages and his brothers join the Mau Mau, Kamau becomes his family's main support.
A wealthy chief and pyrethrum farmer – indeed, the first African to be allowed to grow the crop. He owns the land that Ngotho and his family live on, and he works against the Mau Mau uprising as it starts to intensify. He is also Mwihaki's father.
A British tea farmer who moved to Kenya to escape a troubled past. He owns the land that once belonged to Ngotho's father, a source of tension between the men despite the fact that Mr. Howlands is Ngotho's employer. As time passes, he is appointed district officer, and viciously fights the rebellion.
Jacobo’s son, who at the beginning of the novel is planning to to study abroad in England.
A humorous African who works in Kipanga. He likes to tell raunchy stories about his exploits fighting in World War II.
The patriarch of Njoroge's family, and a World War I veteran. He is married to Njeri and Nyokabi, and is the father of Boro, Kori, Kamau, and Njoroge, as well as another son, Mwangi, who died in World War II. He works on Mr. Howlands's plantation, and longs for the white people to leave Kenya so he can have his family's land back.
Ngotho's brave and intelligent first wife, and the mother of Kamau.
One of Ngotho’s elder sons, who fought in World War II. He drinks frequently and seems to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. He is particularly troubled by the death of his brother Mwangi in the war. He eventually finds a sense of purpose through fighting in the Mau Mau rebellion, where he becomes the leader of a guerrilla group.
Jacobo's daughter, and one of the wealthiest girls in the village. She is close friends with Njoroge, and eventually becomes his love interest. Their shifting attitudes on the country's prospects in large part constitutes the novel's primary arc.
Jacobo's temperamental adult daughter, who teaches at the elementary school.
Jacobo's wife, described as fat and stern.
The village carpenter, who apprentices Kamau. Although he is initially characterized as stingy and mean, Nganga later shows his generosity by giving Ngotho's family a place to live after they are evicted from Jacobo's land.
One of Ngotho’s elder sons, who died while serving in World War II alongside his brother Boro. His death is a primary motivation in the resentment that fuels Boro.
Ngotho and Njeri’s adult son. He works at the Green Hotel tea shop in Kipanga.
Mugo wa Kibiro
A seer who predicted that white men would come and take people’s land, long before the British came to Kenya. However, he also predicted that they would one day leave, a prediction which gives Ngotho hope.
The Gikuyu name for the Creator.
Mr Howlands’s moody wife, who “mattered [to her husband] only in so far as she made it possible for him to work ... more efficiently without a worry about home” (30).
First introduced as a jovial teacher at Njoroge’s school, with a reputation for drinking and womanizing, Isaka later appears as a Christian revivalist after the rebellion begins.
Though he never appears directly in the novel, Jomo Kenyatta's reputation as the Gikuyu leader of the KAU makes him a hero to the village and Njoroge in particular. Kenyatta is a real historical figure who would become the first Prime Minister of Kenya after it achieved independence.
One of Boro's politically active friends from the city, who joins him in many events amongst the Gikuyu.
A boy in the village who brings the village news about the rebellion.
The leader of the African Freedom Army, and an important figure in the uprising. Though never directly featured in the novel, his reputation strikes fear in the hearts of the villagers and Njoroge. He is another real historical figure, and remains very controversial for his use of violence. Eventually, there developed a schism between Kimathi's Mau Mau and Jomo Kenyatta's more moderate followers in the KAU.
One of Njoroge’s friends at school.
Mr. Howlands's youngest son (and the only one alive during the period of the novel). He is shy and thoughtful, and Mr. Howlands has doubts about whether he is suitable to inherit the plantation. He and Njoroge have an important conversation late in the novel.
Weep Not, Child Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Weep Not, Child is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Certain aspects of Gikuyu society, like polygamy, female circumcision and wife-beating, may be foreign and even uncomfortable for modern Western readers. But despite its uncritical portrayal of these realities, Weep Not, Child is thoughtful about...
Weep Not, Child is thoughtful about the role of women in a traditional society. Mwihaki's failure to continue to high school is not a reflection on women's abilities to succeed in general, but it does highlight the difficulties that bright,...