Gathoni's relationship with Muhuuni serves to illustrate how women are represented as having an ambiguous position of veneration and marginalization in I Will Marry When I Want, a line spoken by Gathoni in an ironic speech in Act I;
I shall marry when I want.
Nobody will force me into it!
Muhuuni signifies veneration for Gathoni by giving her presents and showering her with attention. His parents, in a higher social and economic level than her, even come to their small worker's home and arrange a wedding between them. Yet, in the end, Muhuuni signifies Gathoni's marginalization, after she is persuaded to travel with him to Mombasa and becomes pregnant, when she is rejected by him while the wedding plans are denied as she is called a prostitute.
Thiong’o and Mirii thereby illustrate the ironic and ambiguous situation women are in as represented by Gathoni's speech above. Gathoni believes she can marry when she wants because all she has thus far experienced is veneration, even though her mother hints at the marginalization:
She'll soon marry and be out of sight.
There's no maiden who makes a home in her father's backyard ...who wants to get grey hairs at her parents' home.
Gathoni doesn't at first understand what Muhuuni later illustrates, which is that women only marry "when they want" when not first marginalized by the victimization of men or society.