I Will Marry When I Want

I Will Marry When I Want Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Symbol: the flag (28)

A procession of singers enters and sings of the flag, which is a symbol for Kenya's independence and their successful struggle to defeat the forces of imperialism.

Motif: oaths

The frequent oaths and pledges that pop up throughout the play reinforce the seriousness of the struggle Kenyans faced in trying to secure their independence, and now in trying to bring about a fair and equitable future for themselves.

Motif: dancing and singing

The frequent use of song and dance has several purposes: to call attention to traditional Kenyan culture; to represent life and ebullience; to reflect on struggle and perseverance; and to universalize the events of the play by making them part of a larger narrative.

Symbol: the drunk man

The drunk man is a symbol for the pervasive influence of Western religion and capitalism. His dissolution and despair directly result from his oppression -- economically, politically, and socially. His inability to control his own bodily functions and behavior alludes to poor Kenyans' lack of control over their own lives.

Symbols: the sword and the gun

Kĩgũũnda's sword symbolizes his righteous anger and traditional Kenyan culture, whereas Jezebel's gun is the weapon of the oppressor. Her ability to bring him down with a shot and negate his use of his sword, which requires little skill on her part, symbolizes the larger way in which Westerners brought down Kenyan culture with their clumsy weapons.