The Return

by Ngugi wa Thing'o



- distinct (separate) piece

- assume every book has isolated unit

- bases on "Literariness"

- only focus on TEXT

- close reading

- to be neutral and unemotional, no personal experience

Strength & Weakness


- close reading (careful examination of details: symbols, sentence structure, literary devices)

- easy to learn


- incomplete, ignores: 1) historical background; 2) authorial intention

- take literature away from culture

Apply Questions

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 and irony work in the text?

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

6.What is the setting of story?

7.What is the main conflict of the story?

8.What is the story’s theme?

Questions Apply

1.The protagonist is Kamau.

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 he carries with him. The river symbolizes the time and source of life. The bundle symbolizes his memory and past.

4.Paradox and irony are the two most significant literary devices in this text. 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.Place: A village been ruled by British in Kenya.

Time & Who: After Kamau has been held in jail for 5 years and comes back to village.

7.When Kauma finds out that people in his village think he’s dead and his wife has left him.

8.You cannot expect someone to wait for you for the rest of his/her life knowing that you are not coming back, it is selfish and not fair. No one has the obligation to spend his or her time on you.