Friday, January 3, 2020

ENGLISH - Novel - THE INTERVIEW





THE INTERVIEW

BY PATRICK M. NGUGI

SETTING - Nairobi city in KENYA

PLOT SUMMARY


CHAPTER ONE
THE ACCIDENT
Joe wakes up and prepares himself to go for an interview. He completed form four at Nairobi Central Academy but was not given the certificates since he had not cleared the 40000/= he owed the school as school fees. As a result he could neither get any job nor go to college. We are told that their parents were killed in ethnic cleansing thus Joe and his sisters were sheltered by their maternal uncle – Jotham. Joe leaves for the interview and he goes through the newspapers headlines. One of them reads
“ELEPHANT GROUP TAKES OVER NAIROBI BOTTLERS”.
As he reaches the bus stop he sees an old woman who seems to be mentally disturbed across the road. The matatu are nowhere to be seen to take him to the interview on time. Then the old woman starts crossing the road. Unfortunately, the fast moving matatu knocks her down but Joe dives to rescue her from the full impact. He then calls the police who arrive with an ambulance and collects the old cucu to the hospital with Joe for further police interview at the hospital police post. Joe wonders whether he would be able to make it on time to the interview.

CHAPTER TWO
AT THE HOSPITAL
At the hospital Joe is so depressed for having missed the interview. One medic named Freddie Mwasi tries to comfort him thinking that Joe is depressed because of the old cucu. A full flashback is given on how Joe’s parents and other people were killed and children massacred. Joe and his sisters managed to escape and found themselves in Nairobi city. Together with their brother David, were sheltered by their uncle – Jotham.
Joe is taken to the hospital’s police post for further interview with Chief Inspector Margaret Kinyua. Joe narrates what happened up the time the police and the ambulance arrived. After the interview with Joe, she then orders Constable Kilonzo to take Joe to the interview by the ambulance. It was then 9:15 while his interview was scheduled at 8:30. He was 45 minutes late. Before they leave he rushes in to see cucu, who’s been admitted. He meets Dr. Ochieng’ who’s examining the old cucu. He thanks Joe for calling them in time. He asks Joe if he is related to cucu and Joe refuses. After that Joe is rushed to the City Soap Industries Kampala Road in the Industrial Area for the interview.

CHAPTER THREE
JOE ARRIVES FOR THE INTERVIEW
Joe enters the building and asks for Mr Daniel Kung’us office at the reception. The receptionist confirms if he is one of the interviewees. She wonders why he is so late, as his interview was scheduled at 8:30. She allows him go upstairs. Another flashback is told of a girl named Gladwell who happened to be Joe’s closest friend. The two met at the church when they were both choir members and Joe loved her.
Joe enters the office of Mr. Kung’u and finds a lot of young men and women who are also for the same job. The secretary informs Mr Kung’u of Joe’s arrival and he gives him an appointment to meet him at noon. He is happy and hopeful that at least the boss has agreed to meet him. As he was leaving Gladwell stops him. He is so impressed to see her. After a brief chat they arrange to meet later and she goes back to the office. At exactly 11:30 he comes back and is allowed in without the usual formalities. He explains why he was late for the interview. Mr Kung’u says that they cannot hire him since he failed the interview in the first place by not showing up on time for the interview and their policy does not allow lateness for whatever reason. Then Joe is asked to leave his paper and he leaves the office.

CHAPTER FOUR
JOE AND GLADWELL GO OUT 
David comforts Joe for the bad news. Then Joe tells him how he met Gladwell in the office. Joe and Gladwell meet at Ogden Cinema and they stride to Silver Moon Restaurant. They talk a bit about Gladwell sister Georgina who died of Tuberculosis. Joe then tells Gladwell how he rescued the old cucu. Joe feels a bit depressed that they decide to change the topic. They leave each other while Joe is wondering if cucu was to die, would she be buried anonymously. He hoped that cucu had a family somewhere, and that someone somewhere might be looking for her.
Joe decides to go to the hospital to see cucu’s progress. He goes to the ward number three and meets Mildred Amiti – the nurse who is attending cucu. She gives him a brief summary of cucu’s progress ever since he left. After staring at her and having some more conversation with the nurse he excuses himself and leaves promising to visit the following day.

CHAPTER FIVE
 JOE SECURES A JOB AT THE NATIONAL LIBRARY 
Joe suffers a sleepless night because of cucu’s vision that keeps visiting his mind. He leaves his bed and goes to watch the CNN. David also wakes up and goes to have a chat with him. David informs Joe of the job he has found for him as a librarian at the national library. Although it was the last occupation he expected, for that moment it was better than nothing. He becomes a bit happy and the two go to sleep.
In the morning Joe reports at the National Library and is directed to the Chief Librarian’s office, Mr. Julius Kimeu who was David’s old schoolmate. That’s how Joe gets a part-time job at the National Library.
As Joe is engaged in reading, suddenly the memory of cucu comes into his mind and fails to ignore it. He asks for permission and goes to see her. At the hospital he finds a crowd of people examining a dead body of a pastor who flung himself from the 8th floor because he was HIV positive. Joe meets Freddie – the medic and the two go to see cucu. Dr. Ochieng’ gives them a summary of cucu’s condition that she is now conscious only that she suffers from amnesia (loss of memory) as she couldn’t remember anything.

CHAPTER SIX
 AT THE HOSPITAL
Cucu is happy to see Joe and she blesses him for saving her life by spiting on his face. Cucu asks for the discharge and says Joe will direct her to her home. Dr. Ochieng’, Freddie and Joe try to reason together what is to be done to cucu but later they agree to meet the following day. Joe wonders how in the world a pastor can get HIV but Dr. Ochieng’ informs him that HIV gets anyone including Bishops, Doctors and other important dignitaries.
After leaving the hospital he thinks of Gladwell and decides to go to the choir practice at St. Bernadette Church where he meets her. After the practice the two walk home together. Joe tells Gladwell of cucu but she doesn’t seem to be happy by the way Joe is getting concerned with cucu and calls him RED CROSS.
Joe changes the topic and tells her that he has got a job as Assistant Librarian at the National Library. Later on they talk of a Pastor who jumped from the 8th floor and died. Then Glad says even her sister Georgina was there and she died of AIDS not TB as it was announced.

CHAPTER SEVEN
JOE GETS THE CONTACTS OF CUCU’S RELATIVES
Joe recounts the day’s events to his brother but he ends up discouraging him to continue with cucu’s case. The next day he went to work but did not go to visit cucu. The following day he goes and Dr. Ochieng’ gives him a brief summary of cucu’s accusation on him why he had not shown up the previous day. As they talk to cucu she mentions that her home is in Kariobangi. They are so impressed because at least they have got where to start the house hunting mission.
Back at work Joe receives a call from Glad who informs him that she has got the job at the City Soap Industries. They plan to meet and have a drink together but he remembers the house hunting mission with Dr. Ochieng’ and Mildred then they postpone instead they agree to join the hunting mission.
He goes back to work and decides to peruse the past newspapers. He comes across an announcement of a missing person and discovers that it is cucu. He reads the caption below the photo. Page 45
Leah ‘Chiki’ Nyaguthii (above) went missing from her Muthaiga home about one month ago. She is 70 years old. Light complexion and of slightly heavy build. She was dressed in a light green frock and sweater when she was last seen. She speaks Kikuyu, Kikamba, Kiswahili and a little English and is slightly mentally disturbed. Anyone who might see her can telephone her son Johnson K. Njogu at 3345643; or call nearest police station. A reward of Sh 100,000 will be given to whoever helps in locating this woman.

CHAPTER EIGHT
 JOE CONTACTS JOHNSON NJOGU
Joe notes down the telephone number of Johnson Njogu the old lady’s son. He asks Mercy Muraya – the receptionist to ring it. Unfortunately he doesn’t get Njogu directly because this is a home telephone. He asks for his office number and rings him directly. The man sounds so hostile that Joe wonders whether he has done a mistake. Njogu thinks that Joe is just one of those nitwits who called him just because they were after money. Joe calls him the second time, tells him where the lady is and bangs down the phone. Joe wonders how God orchestrated this plan in a mysterious way; that he could get the library job, find cucu’s relatives and finally claim 100,000/= which would help him redeem his certificates.
Glad comes over and the two head to the hospital as he gives her a summary of the exciting news. Arriving at the hospital Joe tells Dr. Ochieng’ the news. Dr. Ochieng’ is impressed for the updates. They wait for Njogu to call but they are finally disappointed.
Back home he tells the story to his brother David who confirms that it should be the well known Njogu since there is just one Njogu – the billionaire and the Chairman and Chief executive of Elephant Group of Companies.

CHAPTER NINE
JOE’S BACKGOUND IS GIVEN AND CUCU IS TAKEN
A flashback is given on how Joe escaped with his sisters since all men and boys were killed only girls and women were spared. Some unlucky ones (girls) were raped and abducted. They were collected at the Catholic Mission by his brother and their uncle. They lived with their uncle who provided them with both physical and psychological needs. He sent them to school and David finished and got a job as a bookkeeper. He helped his uncle to provide for financial needs to his young siblings. By the time Joe completed his Fourth Form he owed the school 40,000/=. Mary (aged 22) completed her training and got a job as a nurse at Nairobi Metropolis Hospice. She had to pay for Lucy who was a secretarial student at City Polytechnic.
Joe thinks of his paternal grandparents since he had seen them when he was so young. We are told that their grandfather was Kibe and grandmother was Wacheke. We are also told of Joe’s paternal uncle John Kibe who got a scholarship and went to America to study Business Administration. Then a full flashback of Joe’s family is given.
Joe calls at the hospital and Mildred says that cucu is still there despite being discharged. Joe and Gladwell go to the hospital to see cucu. Surprisingly they find someone else on cucu’s bed. They wonder whether cucu is dead or released to roam in the streets. Later Freddie tells him that Mr. Njogu came to collect her.

CHAPTER TEN
A CHAUFFEUR COMES TO PICK JOE
For two days Joe becomes a zombie but later he becomes normal again. He goes back to work and colleagues are happy. He is informed by Mercy that someone needs to see him. A man who introduces himself to be Tony Kibe tells him that he has come to pick him to go and meet Mr. Njogu. He seeks for permission and is allowed. The chauffeur opens the car door for Joe and he feels like a VIP. Tony and Joe talk a bit about cucu and her improvements. Joe thinks that he is daydreaming but he finally realises that it is real. He feels embarrassed when the chauffeur opens the door for him. He wonders whether he is already a celebrity.  

CHAPTER ELEVEN
JOE IN NJOGU’S MANSION
Joe enters Njogu’s living room which is full of modern and expensive items. Joe scans all these in a few seconds as he stands mesmerised by the luxury of a modern high-class living room. Joe meets Njogu’s family members who welcome him warmly and interview him how he found cucu. Joe tells them everything including how his actions had cost him a chance of an interview. Joe tells how he failed to get his certificates for lacking 40,000 as fees arrears.
Uncle Dan comes in, in the middle of the conversation. He looks familiar to Joe but his memory fails him where in the world they had met before. After a while Joe remembers that he is Daniel Kung’u the Personnel Manager at the City Soap Industries who told him that the company does not tolerate lateness. They praise Joe for his good heart. Then Njogu promises to pay the 40,000 for him to be able to collect his certificates. He doubles the prize from 100,000 to 200,000 then offers Joe a job at the City Soap Ind.
They ask David to be fetched to come and celebrate with them. Meanwhile they ask Joe to tell them his family Background. In the process they discover that he is a grandson of Wacheke (cucu) and a nephew to Johnson Njogu and Daniel Kung’u and a cousin to Joyce and Tony (Njogu’s children). What a coincidence!

CHAPTER TWELVE 
THE REUNION PARTY
Joe is happy that he has more money than he expected. He will have enough to pay for his certificates and still have much left over. They inform their sisters Lucy and Mary to accompany them for the reunion party at Njogu’s mansion. He also invites Gladwell to go with them. Gladwell is surprised to hear that Njogu is Joe’s relative and on top of that Joe has been offered a job.
Arriving at the mansion Joyce and Tony meet the newcomers; Mary, Lucy, Gladwell, Joe and David. The Njogus come out also to meet the newcomers. Cucu sends spittle of blessing on their heads to bless them. They all break into a song and dance while tears of joy welling in their eyes.


INTRODUCTION
THE TITLE OF THE BOOK

Perhaps the basic questions to ask ourselves before we move further into the book are;
1.      What is the meaning of the word interview?
2.      “What is (are) the interview(s) in ‘the Interview?’”

The word interview can be understood as:
i.        A formal meeting at which somebody is asked questions to see if they are suitable for a particular job, or for a course of study at a college, university, etc
ii.      It is  to ask somebody questions about their life, opinions, etc, especially on the radio or television or for a newspaper or magazine
iii.    To ask somebody questions at a private meeting.

In The Interview there are several interviews that relate to the title of the book.
a.       Job interview at the City Soap Industry. The major interview in the novel is the job interview which Joe has to attend but unfortunately he misses it because of volunteering to save cucu. We are also told that a lot of candidates have attended the same job interview at the CITY SOAP INDUSTRY including Gladwell.

b.      Police interview with Joe. The second interview is held by the police (Chief Inspector Margaret Kinyua) to interview Joe how the accident occurred and if he can recognize the plate number of the matatu.

c.       Hospital interview. At the hospital also Joe is asked some questions including whether he knows the old woman he saved.

d.      Njogu’s interview with Joe. Njogu asks Joe several questions after inviting him to his home. In that interview they come to find out that they are related and Joe is Njogu’s nephew.

e.       The life interview. Joe’s life is an interview by itself. From the way he sacrifices his job interview, to save cucu’s life, then keeps on visiting her at the hospital, and helps to finds her relatives. All these are series of actions that later reward him the job he wanted plus other benefits.


CHARACTERS AND CHARACTERIZATION

JOSEPH KIMANI (JOE)
ü  He is the main character in the novel. He is a son of Bernard Kung’u and Nancy Mwihaki and a young brother to David Kibe, Mary Waithera, and Lucy Nduta and a grandson of Leah Wacheke.
ü  He is educated. He is a form four leaver from Nairobi city Academy but fails to collect his certificate due to debt of 40,000/= that he owed the school as fees arrears
ü  He is an orphan. He lost both his parents in an ethnic cleansing that took place in Uasin Gishu district where he lived with his parents. We are told in page 62 that “Joe was orphaned at age ten”.
ü  He becomes insomniac. Joe suffers from insomnia (the condition of being unable to sleep) due to different circumstances. One is his state of joblessness. Second is cucu’s accident and the related nightmares.
ü  He is kind-hearted and sympathetic. He saves cucu from a fatal accident and takes care of her at the expense of his own job interview. Although he does not know the woman, he keeps on regularly visiting her at the hospital, even after being discouraged by his brother David and his girlfriend Gladwell, who mock him “Red Cross”.
ü  He is quick in decision making. This is revealed from the way he saved cucu and immediately contacts the police. The author says; “he jumped into the road, got hold of the muttering woman and pulled her off road as he dived to avoid the speeding matatu.” Pg 8
ü  He is lucky. His kindness to save and serve cucu opens doors for his future success. He gets a part-time job as an assistant librarian, which helps him to connect cucu with her family. He is awarded Ksh 240,000/=. He gets a job he dreamt of; furthermore, still he is reunited with his relatives. This shows that kindness pays. 
ü  He is poor. He comes from a poor family that cannot afford to pay for his school fees. However this is due to the massacre of his parents and land grabbing. He is a good example in the society.

LEAH WACHEKE (CUCU)
ü  She is an old woman who at times is mentally disturbed. She goes mad after the death of her husband Kibe who is killed in ethnic cleansing at MoloPg 75 Her condition results to her involvement in a matatu accident and is rescued by Joe.
ü  She temporarily suffers from amnesia. {a medical condition in which somebody partly or completely loses their memory} Cucu loses her memory of who she is, where she came from, who her relatives are etc. later she gradually recovers.
ü  She is Joe’s paternal grandmother. It is later discovered that she is a real biological grandmother to Joseph Kimani and a mother to Bernard Kung’u.
ü  She has a thanksgiving heart. After all that Joe did to her, the Njogus came to collect her at the hospital without acknowledging what Joe did but she insisted that Joe must be called to see her. The author says; {Tony telling Joe} “She even said we had to wait for you before taking her away...we thought she’d forget about it once she reached home but we were mistaken...” pg 76

GLADWELL.
ü  She is a sister to the late Georgina who died of AIDS.
ü  She is a singer. We are told that she was singing in a choir at St Benedette Church and that’s where she met Joe who is also a singer.
ü  She is Joe’s girlfriend. After meeting at the choir the two become friends and they spend some times together, going out etc.
ü  She is an avid reader of novels. We are told that she was an addict of romantic novels. Joe comments; “so Gladwell the romantic novel addict was after the same job.” Pg 24
ü  She is pretty. We are told that she is so pretty that Joe hopes that one day when she is not in the middle of too much reading – he would get the courage to tell her how he felt about her.
ü  She is jealousy and selfish. She becomes uncomfortable and jealous when Joe keeps on paying regular visits to cucu at the hospital and his intention to look for cucu’s relativesShe mocks Joe by asking him “Since when are you the Red Cross?”
ü  She gets a job at the city Soap Industry. Out of the great completion for just one post she becomes victorious and gets that job. She is even thankful that Joe was late for the interview because he might have qualified for the post instead.

DANIEL KUNG’U
ü  He is a cousin to Johnson Njogu and Bernard Kung’u.
ü  He is the Personnel Manager at the City Soap Industries. He is the one who conducts the interview for the company to fill in the vacancy of a lab technician.
ü  He is very strict about time. Joe comes a bit late for the interview for having done a generous work but his excuse hits the wall. The receptionist tells Joe “Well, Mr Kung’u is very particular about time.”.pg 21. In the office he tells Joe “I’m sorry but our policy does not allow lateness for whatever reason” pg 26
ü  He is inconsiderate. Although Joe is late for a genuine reason he does not consider him. He says that they can’t hire him because he failed to show up and they will only consider those who are on time.

JOHNSON NJOGU
ü  He is a rich billionaire and industrial tycoon. He is the one who owns Elephant Group of Companies.
ü  He is a son of Kibe and Wacheke and a brother of Bernard Kung’u.
ü  He is educated. We are told that he gets a scholarship and goes to study in America a five years’ course in Business Administration.
ü  He is a very kind man. Although at first Joe thought he is a rude man, the way he talked to him on the phone he came to realise that he wasn’t so at all. He treats Joe kindly after discovering what he did to his mother that Joe feels like a VIP.
ü  He has a thanksgiving heart. Although he had promised 100000/= to whoever will help them relocate their missing mom, he doubled the prize to 200000/= for Joe plus paying his fee arrears and offering him a job at the City Soap Industry. All these happen before even discovering that they are related.
ü  He is carried away by culture shock in America. He completes his studies but does not return back home on time. He even gets a job
ü  He is remorseful and apologetic. This happens in different scenarios; first he apologises for not taking Joe seriously when he called firstly, informing him of the found cucu pg 80. Secondly, he feels guilty and sorrowful for having abandoned home completely when in America. Pg 88

DAVID;
ü  He is the older brother of Joe, Mary and Lucy.
ü  He is educated. He grows up at Uncle Jotham’s place where he finishes school, and completes a six-months’ account course.
ü  He works as a bookkeeper. After getting the job, he takes over the responsibility of buying clothes for Joe, paying for his education and giving him a little pocket money.
ü  He finds a part-time job for Joe. Due to the state of joblessness that is eating his young brother he decides to find a part-time job for him through his friend Julius Kimeu as an assistant librarian.
ü  He is selfish: He discourages Joe from visiting cucu since he does not know her he even mocks Joe by telling him “I hope this time you will not witness another accident and play the Good Samaritan” pg 34.

Other characters include;
ü  Uncle Jotham; a kind-hearted man who takes care of his sister’s (Nancy) children after the death of their parents. He sends them to school and takes care of all the physical and psychological needs.
ü  Dr Ochieng’: He serves as a Doctor at the National hospital. He is also very kind-hearted man since he gives maximum care to cucu and gives a hand of cooperation to house-hunt cucus relatives with Freddie the Medic and Mildred the nurse.
ü  Mercy. The library receptionist who helps Joe to get his call through to Njogu.

SETTING
The setting of the book is in a modern city Nairobi in Kenya. It portrays the challenges in post independence African countries in urban areas. The setting is urban due to the following reasons:
ü  Mode of Transport. Matatu transport is a common public transport used in Nairobi city. Also Ambulance services are common in town than in the countryside.
ü  High unemployment rate. In towns most educated people have no jobs as evidenced by a number of young people who appear for interview just for one post.
ü  Library services are provided in towns than in the countryside.
ü  Life style. The kind of lifestyle described in Njogus home symbolises the kind of life the rich people live in big cities. Things like36-inch TV, video, and hi-fi equipment, computer, fax machine cum photocopier.
ü  Industries. Many industries are located in urban areas like the City Soap Industry.
There are also sub settings that sum up the urban setting.
ü  Office setting. We see the office setting in the building that the City Soap Industry headquarters is located.
ü  Hospital setting. We see hospital setting at the National hospital where cucu is admitted. But also incidents like suicide of HIV/AIDS victims take place there.
ü  Restaurant setting. We see Joe and Gladwell going out at Silver moon Restaurant for a drink and some chats. This is common in towns than in countryside.
STYLE.
The book is rich in its style. The author has employed both the narrative technique to a large extent and dialogue to bring the characters to life. For example in page 73 Joe is taking to Tony.
“Are you looking for me?” Joe asked.
“Are you Joseph Kimani? He was asked in reply.
“Yes, i am” Joe said politely but curiously.
“Then you are the man I am looking for. Let’s go....
  Point of view. The writer has used all the three persons. However 3rd person singular is the dominant one. This is to say the author narrates the story.
The author has employed the language of conversation with informal words like
Oh God Jeeysus! Pg 87
“Aunteeeee! Ankoo is calling you! Pg 56
Code mixing like
What you guys call shamba?
Very sad. Pole sana.
Also the book has employed the language of newspaper reporting.
E.g. In pg7 ELEPHANT GROUP TAKES OVER NAIROBI BOTTLERS.
Also in pg 54 there is an advert for a missing person, common in newspapers.

LANGUAGE USE.
The author has used a lot of figures of speech to enrich his style and get his messages across. Some of the figures of speech used are:
Hyperbole.
ü  He had polished his shoes...that he could almost use it as a mirror. Pg 7.
ü  The matatu were notorious for taking ages to appear pg 8
ü  The silence that followed the next few seconds was so heavy that you could hear particles of dust fly past your ears and settle on the ground. Pg 83
Simile
ü  She is as fit as a fiddle. Pg 38
ü  She hugged me like hell. Pg 45
ü  Joe’s heart skidded, stopped, then went wild beating like hell. 83
Metaphor
ü  Even science can be an art in fact it is an art. Pg 34
ü  Since when are you Red Cross. Pg 45
Euphemism
ü  You see she seemed not to be of sound mind when I saw her before the accident. Pg 18 (meaning she was insane)
Rhetorical question
ü  Where did she come from? Where was she going? Who was she? What drove her insane? And who were her relatives? Pg 18
Personification
ü  His heart was racing vigorously. Pg 21
ü  Sorry my mind was miles away. Pg 29
ü  Thank your stars, Joe there is an opening for you. Pg 3
ü  Then she smiled as his face registered in his mind. Pg 50
ü  His heart raced madly. 53
ü  The picture of his patient, the old cucu stared back at him. Pg 53
Barbarism
ü  Kwani, whom did you expect? Pg 33
ü  Ngai fafa. Pg 85
ü  It was their shauri. Pg 72
ü  What you guys call shamba? Pg 85
ü  Pole sana. Pg 85
Allusion
ü  I hope this time you will not witness another accident and play the Good Samaritan. Pg 34  (referring to the Good Samaritan in the Bible)
Oxymoron
ü  And continued to daydream in the night pg
ü  His new-old friend, cucu. pg 72
Alliteration
ü  They are very lively, lovely folks. Pg 94
Reiteration.
Oh young man thank you, thank you, thank you so much.pg 41
Also there are sayings idioms and proverbs
ü  Survival for the fittest. Pg 8
ü  Do you think that is just sour grapes or wishful thinking? Pg 27
ü  The world will not end just because you missed the interview. Pg 27
ü  Let’s cross those bridges when we reach them. Pg42

Moreover religious language has been used.
ü  May God bless you and bless your ways throughout your life. Pg 41


THEMATIC ANALYSIS

NEPOTISM
ü  This is the act of giving unfair advantages to your own family if you are in a position of power, especially by giving them jobs.
ü  Joe gets a job through his brother who is a friend of Julius Kimeu – the chief librarian at the national library. David reports the matter to Joe by saying “there is a job for you somewhere. A friend of mine has fixed something for you” pg 33
ü  Also Daniel Kung’u is the Personnel Manager at the City Soap Industries which is owned by his cousin Johnson Njogu.

CONFLICTS
ü  This is a situation in which there are opposing ideas, opinions, feelings or wishes; a situation in which it is difficult to choose and sometimes the two opposing parties end up fighting. In this novel there are two major types of conflicts; Intrapersonal (internal) conflict and social conflict.

INTRAPERSONAL CONFLICT
ü  This takes place within the mind of a character. The character struggles to make decision, take action, or overcome a feeling. In the novel we see Joe involved in this conflict due to some reasons.
ü  One, is the fact that he misses the interview and consequently misses the job altogether.
ü  Two, the accident he witnesses and the related nightmares that he tries to overcome but he fails. The author tries to explain this situation in page 32 by saying
Every time he closed his eyes he saw the pitiful figure of the old woman being knocked and dragged by the matatu. He tried reading a novel hoping to drift into sleep, but visions of the accident still crept into his mind”
ü  Three, when he finds out that Njogu has taken cucu secretly from the hospital without informing him he becomes uncomfortable.

SOCIAL CONFLICT.
ü  This conflict usually involves one community/society or any social group with another. In this society we see the Repercussion of social conflicts between communities as a result of ethnic cleansing that take place some years back in Uasin Gishu district. These repercussions include;
ü  Massacre/massive killings. We are told that even at Kondoo area of Burnt forest in the rift valley one night some warriors raided the farms killing many people. Houses were burnt and people including children were massacred.
ü  Raping. We are told in page 63 that during the massacre women and girls would be mostly spared but the unlucky ones were abducted and raped.
ü  Family disintegration. Joe’s family is completely disintegrated, and relocated. Joe and his siblings leave their area and go to live with their uncle Jotham, while the grandmother (Wacheke) and other relatives are separated.
ü  Land annexation/appropriation. During the tribal crashes the land is taken from the owners by strangers/invaders. For example in page 6 the author says
When David visited what had once been their homestead years later, he found strangers living on the farm... They dared him to set foot on the compound if he valued his life”
But also when Njogu comes back from America he tries to trace their home in Molo but he says “it was all in shambles with strangers living on the farm.

POVERTY
This is the state of living below the poverty line - the official level of income that is necessary to be able to buy the basic things you need such as food and clothes and to pay for somewhere to live.
This society is characterised by poverty. More often than not poverty in this society is caused by the state of joblessness. This society is no exception. The author has portrayed the theme of poverty in the following scenarios.
ü  Joe’s family is so poor that Joe fails to pay the school fees. As a result he is unable to recover his secondary school certificates. He is out struggling and looking for the job that will enable him to help his financially burdened brother and pay for his school fees arrears and redeem his certificates.
ü  Many people are poor and can’t afford the living. This is evidenced by the way they make prank calls to Njogu claiming to have located the missing cucu just to get money from him.
ü  Many educated people are jobless. This is evident in the office of the Personnel Manager of the City Soap Industry where a score of young women and men appear for interview just for one post. This shows how the state of joblessness is big and serious resulting to poverty in this society.

UNEMPLOYMENT   
ü  This is the state or the fact of a number of people not having jobs. Unemployment is a common problem in developing countries especially among the youths. Many educated people are jobless. This is evident in the office of the Personnel Manager of the City Soap Industry –Daniel Kung’u- where Joe finds a score of young women and men who appear for interview all clutching envelopes and other papers and sat in nervous anticipation just for one post. This shows how the state of joblessness is big and serious resulting to poverty in this society.
ü  Joe suffers the fate of joblessness and he tries to find any job that will help him to clear his school fees arrears. He gets a part time job at the National library and accepts it though it’s not one that he anticipated. He accepts it nevertheless since something is better than nothing.

AFRICAN TRADITIONS
A tradition is a belief, custom or way of doing something that has existed for a long time among a particular group of people. In this society there are some few cases of African tradition though it seems to be a modernized society.

ü  Blessings. More often than not the elders bless the young by spitting on their forehead or on their palms. Cucu blesses Joe in a similar way. The author says; “After sending spittle of blessing upon his face, she released Joe from the tight embrace” page 4. Also in page 95 we are told that when the family is finally reunited “cucu spits over their head to bless them.

ü  Unity and cooperation in extended family. Africans have always been living in unity and cooperation among the members of extended family. In this book we see after the death of Joe’s parents they are hosted by their maternal uncle who takes care of them including sending them to school and meeting their physical and psychological needs. David also cooperates with his siblings when his uncle is burdened.



THE PLIGHT OF HIV/AIDS
HIV/AIDS is a common theme in the contemporary African literature. Many authors write showing the ways it spreads and preventive measures. Most of them use characters as their mouthpieces to pass over the intended message. In this book AIDS is discussed in the following approach;
ü  There are suicide cases. People who suspect they have the disease jump off from the eighth floor where AIDS victims are taken care of and end their lives.
ü  HIV is indiscriminate as it gets anyone. Joe wonders how a pastor can be infected with HIV but Dr, Ochieng tells him that HIV does not care who you are as long as you indulge in risky behaviours you will be subjected to it. He says:
We know bishops, doctors and other important dignitaries who have succumbed to the disease. However what is important is that it can get anyone. No one is out of reach as long as they continue indulging in risky activities” pg 43
ü  AIDS has no cure yet but there are preventive ways. Using Dr. Ochieng’ as his mouthpiece the author says that the only ways to stay out of AIDS are:
§  To abstain from sex if you are single.
§  Be faithful to one partner.
§  Practice safe sex- If you are not sure if your partner is faithful. This includes using a condom.
§  Take HIV test if you eventually decide to get married.
ü  People are not telling the truth about AIDS. We are told the Gladwell’s sister –Georgina died of AIDS. However to avoid stigma it was announced that she died of Tuberculosis (TB) pg 46

LUCK AND FATE
Luck refers to good things that happen to you by chance, not because of your own efforts or abilities and fate implies the power that is believed to control everything that happens to somebody and that cannot be stopped or changed.
ü  Everything that happens to Joe’s life seems to be controlled by powers outside himself. Joe witnesses an accident that becomes a turning point in his life completely. The accident makes him miss the interview, thus he misses the job he desired. He gets another job that still works miraculously to help him locate cucu’s relatives only to discover that he was helping his own cucu.  The author expresses this luck and fate in the following way “Throughout the lunch hour Joe kept on thinking how, by a stroke of luck, he had come across the advert.”
ü  He continues to say “Was it by divine mercy that he had got the job at the Library in the first place? Was it through divine design that he had witnessed the accident, so that he could fail the interview and get this job at the library, so that he could be instrumental in helping the Njogus find their loved one? God surely worked in mysterious ways.” Pg 59
ü  Eventually Joe gets 240,000/= and the job he desired just for helping their own grandmother unknowingly. Also this incident helps them to discover that the Njogus are their real relatives who got misplaced long ago.
There was a power beyond Joe’s control that was orchestrating all these things in Joe’s life.

CLASSES
These are the groups of people in a society that are thought of as being at the same social or economic level. In most post colonial African countries there are classes of poor people and rich people. In this society, this situation is evident.
The poor/low class.
ü  The poor class as represented by Joe and his siblings are getting hard time to sustain their living. It is shown that due to poverty at home Joe is not able to pay for his school fees thus unable to get his certificates. This is contributed partly by tribal/ethnic clashes which result to the death of their parents and appropriation of their land where they could produce. It is also contributed by the state of joblessness that Joe faces. He gets a part time job at the National library and accepts it though it is not one that he anticipated. He accepts it nevertheless since something is better than nothing.
ü  Many people are poor and can’t afford the living. This is evidenced by the way they make prank calls to Njogu claiming to have located the missing cucu just to get money from him.
ü  Many educated people are jobless. This is evident in the office of the Personnel Manager of the City Soap Industry where a score of young women and men appear for interview just for one post. This shows how the state of joblessness is big and serious resulting to poverty in this society.


The Rich/high Class
ü  The rich class is represented by the Njogus. These have everything they need; good houses, expensive cars, big income generating projects etc. The author describes Njogu’s home in a way that everything there symbolises wealth. In page 76 he says “the stately mansions behind the elegant gates and beautifully trimmed hedges mesmerised him”.
ü  He continues to describe the mansion from inside that when Joe entered Njogu’s living room he saw expensive items which displayed affluence to the point of obscenity and arrogance. The author says “Joe scanned all these in a few seconds, as he stood mesmerised by the luxury of a modern, high-class living room”. Pg 78

HUMANITY AND KINDNESS
Humanity is the quality of being kind to people and animals by making sure that they do not suffer more than is necessary. The entire book seems to be centred on the theme of humanity and kindness. The author shows how some people play the role of good Samaritans in helping other people in need of their help. The following cannot be left unmentioned.
ü  Joe plays the role of a Good Samaritan by helping cucu at the expense of his own job interview. However the author shows that kindness pays. Joe eventually gets the job he aspired for and discovers that he was helping his own biological paternal grandmother.
ü  We are told that some good Samaritans were carrying refuges in Lorries to the Catholic Mission in Londiani.
ü  Uncle Jotham takes care of his sister’s children and becomes their guardian meeting their immediate physical and psychological needs, feeding, clothing and counselling them, until all four siblings become too much a burden for him and his young wife.

Other minor themes include
Selfishness. Both David and Gladwell show selfishness by discouraging Joe who keeps on visiting cucu and taking care of her since he is not related to her.
Jealousy. Gladwell becomes jealousy when Joe spends much time thinking about and visiting cucu than spending time with her (Gladwell)
Sacrifice. Joe sacrifices his life to save cucu in a moving matatu. He could probably be injured as well but he never cared about that since he wanted to save cucu. He sacrifices his time to send cucu to the hospital and misses the interview but also to visit cucu at the hospital every now and then.

MESSAGE
ü  What goes around comes around. Joe did his best to help cucu but he ended up benefiting more than he had expected.
ü  HIV/AIDS is indiscriminate as it gets anyone. People should be careful by abstaining from sex if they are single, be faithful to one partner, practice safe sex – if one is not sure if their partner is faithful – This includes using a condom  and taking HIV test if one eventually decides to get married.
ü  We should avoid social conflict in the society as it may result to massacre of innocent people, raping of girls and women, family disintegration, and land alienation.
ü  Unemployment is a big problem among the educated youngsters. Governments should create employment opportunities for the youths otherwise there will be much trouble in the future.
ü  Poverty is another crisis that is facing developing countries. It makes people to be dishonest and selfish. It should be eradicated immediately.
ü  People should not be given jobs depending on whom they know but what they know.
ü  We should be thankful to people who have helped us as did cucu and Njogu.

RELEVANCE
The book is relevant in a number of ways.
1.      AIDS is killing people day by day. Additionally there are many cases of people committing suicide when they suspect they have acquired the disease.
2.      Unemployment and joblessness are common problems in Africa today especially Tanzania.
3.      The gap between the rich and the poor is widening day by day
4.      There are few generous people in the society who can sacrifice their lives to save others as did Joe.
5.      Nepotism is also rampant. People get jobs in the government offices not on the basis on technical know-what but know-whom.


EmoticonEmoticon