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The Gentlemen of the Jungle

This study guide will help you analyse the short story “The Gentlemen of the Jungle” by Jomo Kenyatta. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Gentlemen of the Jungle” (1938)
Author: Jomo Kenyatta
Genre: Short story

Born in Kenya under British rule, Jomo Kenyatta (c. 1897-1978) was a member of the Kikuyu tribe and an anti-colonial activist. In 1952 he was charged with leading an uprising against the British, which led to his imprisonment and exile. After his release, Kenyatta governed Kenya as its Prime Minister from 1963, and then as its first President from 1964 until his death in 1978.

Excerpt

Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide.

Symbolism

Because the story is a fable, both its characters and some elements of the setting are symbols which help the author convey his message.

The man, who lives in a hut and speaks in an African dialect, is a symbol of all African people living under colonisation. As the author is Kenyan, the man could also be specifically symbolic for the people of Kenya under British rule. The way the man is treated by the animals is symbolic of the author’s perception that many African people were discriminated against and exploited by British and other western colonisers. The man’s final act of setting the hut on fire with all the animals inside is symbolic for the colonised people’s fight for independence from their colonisers. By setting it on fire, the man implicitly sacrifices the hut that he built. This suggest that the narrator uses this act as a symbol to communicate to his readers that violence and sacrifice might be needed to escape the colonisers’ oppression.

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The Gentlemen of the Jungle

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