Weep Not, Child

Weep Not, Child Summary and Analysis of Chapters 6-7 and Interlude


Chapter 6

The men of Mahua (the village) sometimes gather to discuss political affairs. Occasionally, Boro and Kori travel home from the city for these meetings, bringing friends from there. Njoroge loves to eavesdrop on these conversations. He listens in on one meeting, in which the men plan a strike to involve all black people - or at least all those who work under white people or the British colonial government. That night, Njoroge prays that the strike will result in a pay raise for his father.

When he hears about the impending strike, Mr. Howlands threatens to fire any worker who participates. Ngotho is torn with indecision – he wants to fight for better wages and fair treatment, but he also loves working the land and does not want to lose his job.

He eventually decides to join the strike, which causes a bitter fight between him and Nyokabi. Although Ngotho and his wives usually restrain from fighting around their children, Njoroge hears the argument, and is deeply disturbed. That night, he asks God whether the strike will succeed, and falls asleep listening for an answer.

Chapter 7

At the beginning of the new year, all the students gather at the school to learn whether they have passed and will continue to intermediate school. After a moment of suspense, Njoroge and Mwihaki learn that they have both passed, and they skip home merrily, holding hands. However, they separate as they approach their houses. When Mwihaki enters her house, her mood quickly dampens when she learns that something has happened to her father Jacobo.

The narrator tells what has happened. Earlier that day, Ngotho had left work to attend a rally in support of the strike. Boro, who has become a committed activist, and his friend Kiarie were scheduled to speak at the rally. Before they could begin, the police interrupted the rally and urged the audience to listen to Jacobo, who spoke to the natives about returning to work.

Ngotho, who suddenly found himself furious at this “Traitor,” rushed the stage to attack Jacobo (62). The other workers in the audience joined him, and a violent riot began. Jacobo was saved by the police’s quick intervention, and Ngotho was hailed by the village as a hero.

The narrative jumps forward a few days. A group of men congregate near the barber’s shop. They discuss how the strike has failed, and how Ngotho's family has been expelled from their home on Jacobo's land. Additionally, Ngotho has lost his job working for Mr. Howlands.

The events at the rally cause many changes for Njoroge and his family. Though the family is initially homeless, Nganga the carpenter allows them to set up new huts on his land. Without a job, Ngotho cannot pay the rising fees at Njoroge's school, but Kamau and Kori use their salaries to ensure the boy can continue with his education. Meanwhile, Mwihaki has left for a boarding school far away.


Two and a half years later, a white government official looks at Nairobi from a hilltop, and ponders how his people have been rejected from Kenya despite “[trying] our best” (66). He believes that the natives are ungrateful.

The men in the village discuss the recent assassination of a chief who had accepted large amounts of land from the government. Several secondary leaders of the resistance have been arrested; eventually, Jomo, the revolutionary leader, is arrested as well. This arrest disappoints Njoroge, who has always hoped to meet Jomo. He remembers attending a rally held by the KAU, a resistance society, at the market place. There, he almost met the elusive Jomo, but was crowded out.


In the final chapters of Part I, Ngugi continues to develop many of the stylistic quirks he established early in the novel. One of the most notable of these is his experimentation with format. For example, the dialogue and the applause in Chapter 7 are notated like stage directions, a bold choice that suggests several different meanings. The formatting may allude to the fact that the event was scripted; in other words, Kiarie’s speech had been carefully prepared. Even Ngotho’s unpredictable act of violence was arguably part of the ‘script;’ it is an inevitable result of the police’s relentless oppression of the Gikuyu people. Overall, this suggestion proposes that revolution is necessary and fated in oppressive circumstances, rather than being the result of a few strong individuals.

Weep Not, Child works as both a bildungsroman (a coming-of-age tale) and as a political chronicle, and its structure reflects this genre complexity. As Part I ends, Njoroge is still a child in many ways, despite the fact that he has witnessed more violence and deprivation than many adults ever do. He has grand (and perhaps unrealistic) ambitions for himself, but he relies on his parents and Kamau to help him pursue these goals.

However, the title of Part I - "The Waning Light" - suggests the end of childhood as a tragic necessity. This sense of "light" and wonder cannot last. In Part II, Njoroge will begin to take on more agency in determining his fate. The interlude serves as an intermediary stage between Njoroge’s youth and his adulthood. In it, he remains a passive character like in Part I, but he is beginning to develop a sense of political responsibility. He now sees Jomo as more than a transcendent Moses figure; he begins to realize the immediate grounded importance of the man.

However, the novel also explores the Mau Mau uprising more broadly, and its two sections deal with different phases of the revolt. In Part I, the revolt has not yet coalesced into a single political force; instead, it is a decentralized movement composed of many different cells and individuals. The interlude discusses both the assassination of a famous chief and the arrest of Jomo Kenyatta – real events that are more specific than any of the historical incidents in Part I are. As the novel progresses into Part II, the disparate rebel forces will converge into the Mau Mau, and become more violent. Again, the "light" of innocence and naiveté under which the Guikuyu have been living is now "waning" into the realization that action is necessary.

These chapters also highlight the political differences between Ngotho and the activists of Kiarie and Boro’s generation. The younger men believe in nonviolent resistance. This philosophy is probably influenced by Mohandas Gandhi and the Indian independence movement; the narrator references the Indian colony and nonviolence in Chapter 1.

Ngotho, on the other hand, is so overcome with anger and resentment that he cannot help attacking Jacobo. He is not even sure what forces him to do it, suggesting that the forces are more deep-seeded than his intellect can realize. Considering that Ngotho's own father had his land stolen, it is arguable that Ngotho feels the losses the Gikuyu have suffered under the British more viscerally than the younger generation can. Further, he is arguably fueled by a self-hatred from having so passively complied with the robbery, by working for Mr. Howlands. His political opinions come from his emotions, whereas Boro’s are more intellectualized. It also makes sense that Ngotho might be suspicious of nonviolent resistance, a concept borrowed from the Gikuyu’s rivals, the Indians. His instinct is instead to revert to a more traditional way of solving disputes – the duel. The conflict between these philosophies will continue to resonate at the Mau Mau Uprising continues to escalate.