The Meaning and Effects of Modern Imperialism in Ngugi’s A Grain Of Wheat, and in Silko’s Ceremony
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In this course, we have learned the meaning and content of imperialism, more specifically modern imperialism, and how it affects both the colonizers and the colonized. In the first half of the semester, the imperialists’ view was taken into account through literature. We have studied this perspective in books written by well-known authors, like Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Melville’s Typee, and Ingalls’ Little House On The Prairie. On the other hand, the colonized , or natives’ reactions and struggle against imperialism was also considered, for example, in Ngugi’s A Grain Of Wheat, and in Silko’s Ceremony, and that is my main discussion in this essay.
First, we can start with Ngugi’s A Grain Of Wheat. This novel talks about the people of Thabai, during Kenya’s revolutionary war, or as history knows it, the Mau Mau movement that took place during 1952 and 1960. Though to Africa and practically to the entire world, the Mau Mau movement is seen as an anti-colonial movement, it has been recorded according to the British as a resistance to Western modernity and civilization. This note is clearly stated on page 55 of the book, when Thompson describes how he sees the Mau Mau movement as a threat and destruction to values adapted by civilization.
Moving on to the characters of the book, they seem to be obsessed in discovering Judas’ betrayer throughout the whole novel , but many other betrayals are revealed as the story goes on, like Mugo, Karanja, Mumbi, and these will be more discussed further in the essay.
As for the criticism of imperialism from the natives’ viewpoint, Ngugi mentions Mugo , who receives kudos from the innocent natives and is seen a hero , especially after suffering in his detention camp as a colonial victim. Howeve...
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...and of their own.
The whole story talks about Tayo’s recovery from the war, for it had affected him emotionally and physically. Silko uses the natives’ rituals and ceremonies to do so. Eventually, Tayo improves very much, and by that Silko was able to prove that his people’s traditions and cures did help, even when he was facing the biggest contradictions America had offered. She successfully pointed out the several paradoxes that America has to offer. However, these paradoxes do not ,in any way reduce the country’s greatness, but rather remind us how little we value those who made us the people we are today. It is noticeable that Silko uses a poetic way of writing and delivering her message. I believe that the reason for that is to reach the reader’s sense of humanity while she brings out the irony that America shows in its history, values , cultures and leadership.