The Return

study aid

Ngugi wa Thiong'o Biography

  • born in Kenya 1938 to large peasant family
  • educated in Kenya went on to study at the university of Leeds in Britain
  • lived through the Mau Mau Rebellion, family was also active in Kenyan affairs
  • actively wrote about the government corruption and was arrested for ideas shared in one of his plays
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Author and His Land

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Summary article to the effect

The Return is about a man named Kamau who returns home after being held in a detention camp (prison) for 5 years. He hopes to return to his village and start his life fresh, but when he returns he finds it invaded and ruled by the British. The village is almost unrecognizeable to him. Kamau's wife, Muthoni has remarried someone else thinking that he is dead. At the end of the story Kamau collects all of the things that remind him of his wife, roll them into a bundle, then roll them down a hill into the water. He watches them float away.


1. Who is the protagonist?
2. What is the climax of the story?
3. How does the work use imagery to develop its own symbols?
4.How do paradox, irony, ambiguity and tension work in the text?

5.How does the main conflict help develop the main theme?

6.What is the setting of the story?

7.How is the setting relevant for this particular story?

8.What is the main conflict of the story?

9.What is the story theme?


2.The climax emerges in the story where he finds out that everyone he knows thinks he is dead.
3. The symbols in this story consist of the river in village, and the bundle of bag he carries with him.
4.In the story, paradox is seen when Kauma comes home from jail, expecting warm welcome from his family and neighbor, yet, the reality appears to be different, everyone is shock to see him, some have already forgotten about his existence. On the other hand, it seems to be ironic that, the one person he longs to see for all these years, his wife has bailed on him with his all time rival, enemy Karanja.

5.Kamau finds out that everyone moves on with time, except for himself. So he understands that he has to give up his past and moves on.

6.British Colonialism occupied Kenya in late 19th century and than Mau Mau Uprising was a military conflict.

7.The story shows five years Kamau had been held as a political prisoner and when he returned home everyone ignored him, his wife thought he was dead and married again with other man, and he realized everything was changed.