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Published: 09-11-2019

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Christianity, Culture, and Conflict in The River Between

The River Between The novel by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, The River Amongst, tells the story of two tribes that hold extremely different beliefs central to themselves. Even so, though they agree on quite little, there are nevertheless people that think in peace and unity. The clash in between the two villages is over the conventional Gikuyu belief method and the Christianity brought by colonial white settlers. The search for Ngugi’s opinion on Christian missions and Christianity can be observed via whom his protagonist and antagonists are and what they stand for.

Joshua is the character that epitomizes Christian beliefs as he is unwavering and uncompromisable about his faith. In an outspoken style he speaks against the techniques of the tribe, which can give us insight into the adverse feelings the Ngugi has towards Christianity getting brought to the villages. In contrast we see the Chege, coming from Kameno, represents the Gikuyu tradition and is portrayed in a a lot more constructive light “Makuyu was now house of the Christians although Kameno remained the home of all that was stunning in the tribe.” (54) Chege is portrayed to be calm even when facing difficult occasions, where Joshua represents hatred and extremism. Chug is passionate about the Gikuyu beliefs, but Joshua is a lot more radical and threatening. This shows how the characters and what they represent are distinguished from every single other. Nevertheless, there is a difference between Ngugi showing anti-Christian motives and anti-Christianity in the villages. He appears to describe the dangers that will take place with the merging of the two villages, which explains why Waiyaki was unable to bring unity to the two groups. Ngugi opposes Christianity to be in the village, seeing the devastating effects it can have on the people, but gives no indication that he is anti-Christianity, as extended as it is not imposed on his culture. This also leads to the belief that he does not approve of the civilizing missions which impose their religion on the places that they colonize.

For the Kameno men and women, circumcision was central to their culture it was a lengthy living, indigenous tradition that symbolized the proper of passage of both boys and girls into adulthood. Soon after all, for several of the young individuals in this culture, their circumcision was something that they looked forward to with dutiful excitement as we see displayed in Waiyaki, “This would mark his final initiation into manhood. Then he would prove his courage, his manly spirit”. (14) The Kameno culture reflects the culture that Wanjiku grew up in, exactly where circumcision was central to her culture. Reflecting on her childhood, she discussed how early on they had been prepared for circumcision, and how her life was a lot far better afterward. She grew becoming taught to fear authority, and have respect for her elders, as properly as the method and traditions of her culture. Although some cultures may possibly appear at the strict guidelines of Wanjiku’s culture with fear, she loved her culture and was saddened by the present times. She also talks about how good her life was after circumcision, and the unity that she had within her age group. Her reflections of her culture and life are constructive, and only turn negative when she sees the effects that colonialism had on her people. Circumcision is a classic, indigenous rite that proves to be anti-colonial and is a type of resistance against British imperialism. It is also anti Christian, displaying the person turn into a “pagan” as they undergo the ritual. Ngugi shows how the traditions of circumcision are various from the christian principles: “For Nyambura had learnt and knew that circumcision was sinful. It was a pagan rite from which she and her sister had been saved. A daughter of God need to by no means let even a thought of circumcision come to her thoughts.” (23) Ngugi states that he believes one particular can't think in circumcision and keeping the cultural traditions although also believing in Christianity and colonialism. He have to have had a equivalent fear and hatred for the Christian missionaries as skilled by Wanjiku. The 1st time Wanjiku mentions the missionaries, she talks about how they told her men and women to neglect their culture and change to the British-christian culture. She also goes on the express how she blames the missionaries for destroying the traditional values of her men and women, and how their could be no unity in between people any longer, as when individuals went to church they abandoned traditions.

Even so, Nyambura is the voice of unity on this problem. She believes that 1 can be circumcised and Christian “Father and mother are circumcised. Are they not Christians? Circumcision did not prevent them from becoming Christians. I as well have embraced the white man’s faith.” (26) The longing for unity is also expressed by Wanjiku, but in a diverse way with various objectives in thoughts. She felt unity amongst the other lady whom had also been circumcised and with the woman in her riika. But, Nyambura longed for their to be unity amongst all groups, not just people in the exact same age group, and for their to be unity between these who believed in tradition and those who believed in Christianity. By way of her experience of seeing folks who went to Church abandoning the traditions of her people, she believed that their would be not unity anymore, and for that reason appears at the situation with great sorrow. The way that Ngugi ends his book provokes a selection of responses in the reader. The responses are a result of how the reader felt about Waiyaki. One particular who believed in what he stood for and believed that he was the protagonist would dislike the ending, understanding that his plan for unity was foiled and that his ending is unknown, though leaning towards a less than excellent resolve. But, somebody who was not satisfied with the way the book was going and did not believe in what Waiyaki stood for or his leadership would appreciate the ending, seeing his plan fall apart. The future of this tribe is unknown, and the reader is capable to come up with their personal future for these individuals. Nevertheless, for myself, the element of the ending that stands out the most is when we see how guilty and ashamed the individuals are when they consider about what they did to Waiyaki. He was their teacher and they looked up to him with respect and expectations of their future. But, they did not think in the movement the very same way that Waiyaki did, which created them out to be blind followers.

Perhaps Ngugi is advertising a planet exactly where men and women think for themselves rather than adhere to a effective leader blindly. Folks who join movements due to the fact they are passionate about them, and have the option to adhere to a leader or not to. Ngugi seemed to believe in movements that could inspire modify, but he knew that the movement had to be led by a number of passionate individuals, rather than a single passionate leader. It also requires time for fantastic movements to inspire change, and men and women can't speedily force beliefs on to other individuals and anticipate for something to make a lasting distinction. Sometimes a movement is passed on to multiple leaders and it can take decades or centuries to bring about real alter. With this belief, a single can still view the ending of this book with hope, believing that maybe in the future the unity that Waiyaki wanted could be accomplished. These distinct theories that can be proposed about why Ngugi decided to finish the book in this way is exactly what he wanted. With an open-ended ending, the story inspires conversations about the characters and their interactions, but also about the future of the tribe and how this can also relate to our own lives. It is evident that Ngugi wanted to inspire conversations and thoughts about what the ending of this story was intended to imply and what it can imply, and that tends to make his conclusion of this story powerful towards his intentions.

Whether or not the reader agrees with the opinions that Ngugi expresses in his novel, all can conclusively agree that he is successful in starting conversations and awareness about these indigenous African cultures. The story gives insight into the lives of folks living in these villages and the struggles that they faced when the colonial settlers came to their properties. It shows historical facts even though encouraging conversations that are relevant to the present and the future. It is essential for men and women from other cultures to be capable to study this story, and see the reactions of the native men and women when they have been becoming colonized. It shows us that not every village or person reacted to the settlers in the exact same way, which means that each circumstance was diverse and can not be generalized into meaning one thing. Ngugi opens his readers eyes to the previous whilst also encouraging the exploration of digging into what it was like for the folks who lived in the course of this time.
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