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A Meeting in the Dark

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “A Meeting in the Dark” by Ngugi wa Thiong'o. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it.

Presentation of the text

Title: “A Meeting in the Dark” (1974)
Author: Ngugi wa Thiong'o
Genre: Short story

Ngugi wa Thiong'o, born James Ngugi (1938-) is a Kenyan teacher, novelist, essayist, and playwright. He was imprisoned by the authoritarian Kenyan regime because of the political message in his writings. His debut novel – Weep Not, Child - published in 1964, is the first novel in English to be published by a writer from East Africa. After his imprisonment, he abandoned using English as the primary language of his work preferring to write in his native language, Kikuyu. 

Extract

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Social setting

The social setting explores marriage, religion, gender roles, and culture clash. 

Susana feels that her marriage to Stanley was ruined when he converted to Christianity (p. 125, ll. 28-31). One example of the way in which religion affected their marriage is suggested by the fact that Stanley now calls Susana “Sister in Lord” (p. 126, ll. 22-23). 

The social setting also explores gender roles. Stanley believes that “women were women, whether saved or not” (p. 126, l. 15), implying that he looks down on Susana because she is a woman. He also believes it was her who made him sin before marriage (p. 126, ll. 17-18), so he appears to resent her for it. It is interesting to note that John seems to share this viewpoint with his father, as he also blames Wamuhu for becoming pregnant by him. The gender stereotypes of the characters are also revealed when John leaves his lamp on to trick his father that he is inside, and then sneaks out of his hut, hating himself “for being so girlish. It was unnatural for a boy of his age” (p. 129, ll. 21-22).

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A Meeting in the Dark

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