Where do the youth of Thabai gather in A Grain of Wheat?

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The young people of Thabai meet on the railway platform.

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In A Grain of Wheat, the Gikuyu people are frightened when they first see a train, which they call "the iron snake." The train represents the dominance of British technology in Kenya and connects Thabai with the wider world. As the Gikuyu become accustomed to the presence of the railway in their community, the train becomes a focus of interest, and even some pride, rather than fear.

This is why the young people of Thabai begin to use the railway platform as their meeting place. For a while, they gather there every day to talk and watch the train pass. However, this comfortable attitude toward the train does not last long. Soon, the Gikuyu people begin to fear the train again, not as a monster or an iron snake, but as a real threat to their independence. The British use the train to transport soldiers and supplies, meaning that it is not only a symbol of their power, but an essential part of the colonial project.

At the end of the novel, Karanja, the principal antagonist, who has aligned himself with the British, watches the train pull away from the platform, leaving him behind. His isolation at this point stands in contrast to the image of the crowds who waited excitedly for the train earlier in the narrative.

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