Who is Gathoni in Ngugi wa Thiong'o and Ngugi wa Mirii's play I Will Mary When I Want?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Ngugi wa Thiong'o and Ngugi wa Mirii's play I Will Mary When I Want, Gathoni is Kiguunda's beautiful daughter. Kiguunda is a farm worker in postcolonial Kenya who is happy to own one half of an acre of his own land though his family is still poor. When John Muhuuni, the son of Kiguunda's employer Kioi, begins courting Gathoni, at first Kiguunda opposes the match but relents when he realizes Muhuuni would be a wealthy husband who could provide well for Gathoni.

Gathoni begins acting rebelliously the moment she begins being courted by Muhuuni. Though her mother Wangeci doesn't trust Muhuuni, she says she doesn't care who Gathoni marries so long as she is taken care of. We especially see her distrust of Muhuuni when he is heard honking his car horn to summons Gathoni out rather than walking into their small one-room mud flat to greet her. As her mother Wangeci phrases it, "What kind of a person is this? He never enters the house to greet people!" (p. 20)

However, though Muhuuni showers Gathoni with expensive gifts, he does not marry her. Instead, he impregnates her illegitimately, and she is cast out of her home to become a prostitute and a barmaid.