Research Paper - 1 M aryah Barna Barna English 102 J...

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Maryah Barna English 102 J. Beattie April 23, 2009 Is It Really True? Why do we have literature? Authors choose different reasons for each piece of literature they write based on the effect they want the piece to have. Some write to persuade while others write to inform or entertain. Literature that is written for the purpose of persuasion or information is based on facts and truths, while literature written to entertain, even though it can be true, usually exaggerates the facts, if real at all. Ngugi wa Thiong’o, a Kenyan author, uses his novel Petals of Blood to entertain the audience but also to inform them about the culture within Kenya. Having both of these purposes causes the novel to fall in line with most historical books, but shows the information from the view of a villager. In order to inform the reader of the actual culture of Kenya, Ngugi wa Thiong’o matches his novel with the actual gender roles, economy, government, and educational system 1
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of Kenya at the time the novel takes place: 1960’s. Within the Kenyan culture, women are less respected than men, which is a tradition shown through Petals of Blood . The novel takes place in the 1960’s, a time when women struggled for rights around the world. Women are not only treated as possessions, but also as sex slaves who must obey their male counterparts. However, the women within Kenya do not battle with their role in society, but simply endured it. Wanja, one of the main characters in Petals of Blood , takes on the role of a sexual idol for men at an early age. She is sexually involved with one of her father’s friends when she becomes pregnant at a young age (Thiong’o 37). This is not at all uncommon for Kenyans who actively practice sexual relations with several partners. The father to Wanja’s child offered for Wanja to become one of his wives. The concept of polygamy is a familiar concept to Kenyans and other Africans. The men acquire many wives, depending on their ability to afford the costs of large families (Wiwire 5). Having many wives in Kenya is a sign of success and “reflected his economic status” (Wiwire 5). Wanja is not the only character in Ngugi wa Thiongo’s novel who is involved in polygamy, so are the 2
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other women within the village of Ilmorog. Women are not only used for sex slaves, but for housework and yard work as well. Even though they are treated as “second-class citizens,” women do much, if not a majority, of the hard labor needed to support the family (Standford 10). The women in Petals of Blood are constantly left to maintain the fields and take care of the family and children. In reality, the men of villages often left their wives and children in order to “move to the city in search of paying jobs” (Standford 9). This is verified in the novel when Munira, the main character and narrator, observes how the men come to the village only to impregnate their women and then return to the city (Thiong’o 7). Even though women work the hardest, they are still regarded as possessions rather than human beings. In reality, Kenyans
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Research Paper - 1 M aryah Barna Barna English 102 J...

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