Gathoni is the beautiful daughter of Kiguunda and Wangeci. Her mother, Wangeci, has kept her home and has never sent her to school so that she can work picking coffee and tea. Gathoni surprises her parents by telling them that she will marry when she wants to, and they believe her rebellion comes from being a modern child, as modern children "have no manners at all." Gathoni is being courted by John Muhuuni (the wealthy son of Kioi), and he gives her a dress. Desiring his wealth, Gathoni runs off with him to Mombasa. Kigunnda and Wangeci agree to have a Christian wedding so that Kioi will agree to their daughter's union with John Muhuuni. However, John Muhuuni later deserts Gathoni when he finds out she is pregnant and they are living in Nairobi. Kiguunda throws Gathoni out of the house, and she becomes a barmaid. Gathoni symbolizes the way in which young women in Kenya are not educated and, under the influence of westernization, are left without husbands or chances to better themselves.