Language

Choice of words

The language in “The Gentlemen of the Jungle” by Jomo Kenyatta is relatively simple and easy to understand. The author’s choice of language reflects the social setting and helps with characterisations.

For example, we notice that the author generally uses simple English, and also incorporates a phrase in an African language when the man speaks:

He sat down and said, “Ng’enda thi ndagaga motegi,” which literally means “there is nothing that treads on the earth that cannot be trapped” or in other words, you can fool people for a time, but not for ever.

The use of an African language suggests that the events in the story take place in Africa, which also suggests that the deeper meaning of the story is related to the African colonies.

The use of the titles “Mr” and “Rt Hon ” in connection to the animals highlights their attempt to appear civilized. The title “Rt Hon” also suggests that the animals are symbolic for the British colonisers in Africa. The language used by the animals is very formal and even pretentious, which reflects their self-importance, as well as their belief that they are civilised and, therefore, superior to the man:

As the hurricane had gained access owing to the unoccupied space in the hut, I considered it necessary, in my friend’s own interests, to turn the undeveloped space to a more economic use by sitting in it myself; a duty which any of you would undoubtedly have performed with equal readiness in similar circumstances.

The formal language is also meant to reflect organisation and impartiality, and to create the sense that the animal world is governed by clear and just rules. However, the animals’ decisions are unjust and discriminatory. They ultimately even fight amongst themselves for the better hut, revealing that they only obey the most basic rule of the jungle – which is that power belongs to the strongest.

It is also interesting to consider the selective use of capital letters in the story. In the early sections of the story, the animals are named with lower-case letters , but as they become official Commission members their names are capitalized and some of them also receive fancy titles, which once again highli...

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