The Role of Women in " a Grain of Wheat "

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The role of women in "A grain of wheat "
Though being a political narrative, the presence of women to strengthen the quality and reality of the novel is undeniable. Critic Abdulzarak Gurnah says: "Ngugi's writing is never far from the subject" and this is perfectly applicable for his description of the African women. However, being rather objective he also points a picture of the white women who though being secondary characters play a certain role in the novel.

Ngugi through the depiction of the ideal patriotic women pays great tribute to the African women especially in those dark days. The strength and courage of certain black women is incontestable in relating the fight for freedom. Ngugi through the persons of Wambui and Mumbi clearly shows us that though the men were fighting openly, the war led by the women was as much important as theirs. An example would be Wambui's "now-famous drama at the workers' strike in 1950," how through her words and the common action of women they had revived the strength of men. There is also the comic episode of how Wambui "once carried a pistol tied to her thighs near the groins" where behind the comic account of the incident, Ngugi portrays the courage and role of women in freedom fighting. Also he wants to demonstrate that if African women had not been such an inner-force, Kenya would have never been what it is to-day. This argument is illustrated by Mumbi's inner-force during the Emergency period. She is in fact the character who depicts the ideal African woman according to Ngugi. Strong, beautiful, both and furthermore mother of a child, her strength during that period if far than admirable, "In the end, she tied a belt around her waist and took on a man's work". Far from the sensual woman she appears in Chapter 7, Ngugi as a writer of protest literature wants to demonstrate to what extent the African women can prove to be both unmanly and take the role of men when need be. Though being portrayed as very...
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