CORRUPTION/GREED AND MATERIALISM
Corruption mainly refers to lack of integrity or honesty and is mainly manifested by accepting bribes. Corrupt individuals use their privileged positions they have been entrusted with to make illegitimate gains, thus undermining their moral integrity. They are usually driven by greed. Forms of corruption vary and can include bribery, extortion, nepotism, and general embezzlement of mainly of public funds.
George Abashwili is materialistic. As he makes procession to enter the church fort Easter service, many beggars and petitioners try in vain to reach out to him. We learn through his wife Natella that the governor plans to tear down the slums to create room for the garden of the East Wing of palace. “All those wretched slums are to be torn down to make room for the garden.” (pg 15)
After the coup and the beheading of the governor, we see Natella in a hurry to collect her dresses and shoes. She abandons her son Michael as she runs for her safety. Later we learn that the main reason she is claiming her son Michael from Grusha is to get inheritance of the vast governor’s estates.
The Ironshirts are corrupt. They use their privileged positions to execute others and in the process make illegitimate gains. One Ironshirt says, “.......This morning they strung up the city judge. As for us we beat them to pulp. We are paid one hundred piasters per man, you understand?” The iron shirts follow Grusha and Michael since a good price is offered.
Azdak, the judge, is overly corrupt and his greed unstoppable. He openly takes bribes in the court before listening to a case. He begins by saying, “I accept,” meaning that he is willing to be bribed. As Azdak executes his duties, his deeds do not measure up to the expected standards. He makes controversial judgements that put his integrity into questions. He sits on the statue book when delivering justice. A pointer to his contempt for what is just. He also takes wine in public as he executes his duties.
ABUSE OF POWER
The governor, George Abashwili, is said to be as rich as Croesus. He has so many horses in his stable and yet there are so many beggars on his door step. This shows that he amasses so much wealth for himself at the expense of his subjects. They pile along the gate carrying thin children and holding petitions. They cry for mercy and reduction of the high taxes. (pg 14).
The governor has hired two doctors to look after his son Michael-the apple of his eyes. (pg 15). This is in contrast to the starving and suffering common men who push and shove to see the governor’s heir.
The governor plans to tear down the slums to start building the East Wing garden for his son Michael. It does not matter to him that those slums are people’s homes.
The soldiers also abuse power. “...........soldiers push the crowd back lashing at them with thick whips.” (pg 14) When the crowd pushes to have a peep at their heir-baby Michael- the crowd is pushed back by the iron shirts using thick whips.
The Fat prince abuses power when he conspires and overthrows the governor from power. He (The Fat prince) then orders the governor to be beheaded and his head hanged at the entrance of the palace for all to see. He then orders the iron shirts to follow Grusha and get Michael back; he intends to kill him too. The fat prince also abuses power by practising nepotism, where he intends to have his nephew, Bizergan Kazbeki, to be bestowed as the new judge. “.............so I’ve bought along my dear nephew Bizergan Kazbeki, He’ll be the new judge, hm?” (pg 71)
The judge, Azdak abuses power openly by accepting bribes. Before considering any case he utters a short statement- I accept- to mean he is ready to take a bribe. All the cases he judges are in favour of the suffering poor. He fines the wealthy like the farmers heavily, in this way he abuses power to help the poor.
The playwright explores the theme of love and friendship through various characters in the play. This is mainly portrayed through the parental love between the governor and his son Michael, Grusha, the kitchen maid and Michael, Grusha’s romantic love with Simon Shashava and finally between Grusha and her brother Lavrenti Vashnadze.
Michael does not experience the motherly love from his biological mother Natella Abashwili. Fortunately, his father, the governor of the Caucasian City bestows on Michael fatherly love. Michael is attended to by two doctors who never mover from his side to keep him in good health. The Fat prince also notices the child on their way to church and comments that, “And little Michael is a governor from head to foot!” (pg 15). Natella, Michael’s biological mother, is jealous of the attention Michael is given by his father. She says it is impossible for them to live in the slum but her husband would build the East Wing for Michael since he is the apple of the governor’s eye. “..............will only build for little Michael...........Michael is all.......... (pg 18-19). Finally she abandons him.
Grusha loves Michael. She has to overcome a strong tide of opposition from the other servants before she rescues Michael. The groom tells her, “Better put him down, I tell you. I’d rather not think what’d happen to anybody who was found with the baby.” (pg 27) The older woman tells her, Grusha, you’re a good soul, but you are not very bright, and you know it. I tell you, if he has plague he couldn’t be more dangerous.” (pg 27). Grusha watches over Michael the whole night and by morning as the writer puts it, the seduction between Grusha and Michael i complete, “.............till morning the seduction was complete.......she crept away,”(pg 29). She also saves the child from being killed by several iron shirts. Just like a mother who loves her child, she makes several sacrifices. She is forced to buy him milk at an exorbitant price using her meagre weekly pay. She risks her life to save Michael by hitting a corporal with a wooden log and crosses over to the Northern Mountains using a broken bridge. She has to marry a “dying man”- Jussup- for Michael’s sake and thus risks her engagement with Simon Shashava.
The climax of Grusha’s love for Michael is shown at the trial scene. Grusha defends for her love towards Michael by saying that she brought him up and that she married because of Michael. When Azdak, the judge, asks for Michael so that he can choose his true mother, Michael’s love for Grusha is seen when he smiles at her. After drawing the Chalk Circle, Azdak orders the two women to pull the child out of the circle. Meanwhile, Grusha refuses to pull portraying her motherly love and finally she says, ‘I brought him up! Shall I also tear him to bits? I can’t.” (pg 98)
As Grusha flees to the north, she comes across a bridge on the glacier. She is determined to cross but the merchants caution her against risking her life and that of Michael, The merchant woman tells her, ‘But you can’t take the child on that bridge. It’s sure to break. And look! (pg 41) The next man warns her to think of the baby, “I think of the baby. Risk your life not a child’s (pg 41). This shows their love and compassion for Michael.
The love relationship between Grusha and Simon is romantic. It is already sealed through an engagement. They exchange intimate words and inquire about each other’s background. Simon removes a chain from his neck and tells Grusha, “...........my mother gave me this cross.....please wear it.” (pg 22). Grusha promises Simon that she would wait for him. She says, “Simon Shashava.....it is just as it was.” (pg 23). Grusha is introduced to the idea of getting married to Jussup due to the illegitimacy of the child. However, deep within her, she loves Simon and wishes that the union would not last long so that she may re-unite with her fiancé whom she thinks would willingly take care of Michael. This turns out to be true.
True love unfolds when Simon testifies at the court that he is Michael’s father. “I am the father, your honour.” (pg 93). The climax of the sincere love for each other is portrayed when Grusha informs Simon that, “Now I can tell you: I took him because on that Easter Sunday I got engaged to you. So he’s a child of love. Michael, let’s dance.” (pg 99). This she does after the judgement where she wins the child.
When Grusha runs to the North and arrives at her brother’s house, her brother sympathises with her and gives her a roof and even makes arrangements for her to get married to the “dying” man, Jussup. After the marriage, Jussup takes in both her and the child without asking questions, It is her compassion for Michael that makes her to agree to be married yet she is engaged to Simon.
NEGLIGENCE OF DUTY /IRRESPONSIBILITY
Negligence refers to failure to give somebody or something enough care or attention. It also refers to failure to perform one’s duty which impacts negatively on others.
Georgi Abashwili is the Governor and therefore responsible for the welfare of those under him. Although he is rich, he has so many beggars from the gateway, holding up thin children, crutches and petitions. Although they have come for help, he does not attend to any. It is Easter and therefore one would expect he would be compassionate enough to listen to their grievances. They complain of taxes being high. One petitioner laments: “The child is starving in my arms (pg 14). Although there is a servant collecting their grievances and another distributing coins from a purse, none of their petitions is attended to and eventually they are driven back with whips.
Despite being in a high position and being responsible for the welfare of the people, we are surprised to learn that, he knows nothing about the approaching war and therefore no safety measures have been put in place. When asked about the war, he indicates lack of interest.
The Governor has ignored the plight of his subjects. There are so many of them in the slums. To make matters worse he has decided to tear down the slums to make room for a garden for the East Wing he is about to construct. People are complaining of hunger, yet his child has two doctors, The two doctors are also irresponsible in that none wants to take responsibility over the discomfort of the child. They blame each other over luke warm bath water used to bath the child.
The governor is informed by his Adjutant that an injured young rider has come as a messenger from the capital, bringing him confidential papers. He neglects his responsibility to see him and after waiting in vain the messenger mutters a curse and leaves. We are not surprised when we learn that the plotting against the Governor by The Fat Prince happened in the capital therefore we can guess that the messenger comes to warn him. Eventually, the governor loses his life.
It is strange that the Governor refuses to talk to the wounded Rider when he appears again but prefers to confer with the architects. The Adjutant says of him, “The governor does not wish to receive military news before dinner- especially if it’s depressing (pg 19). Because of his irresponsibility in choosing his priorities, he is caught unawares and is beheaded. That is why the singer laments over the blindness of the great who, “...........go their ways like gods....sure of hired fists. Trusting in their power. But long is not forever.” (pg 20)
It is the height of irresponsibility when Natella Abashwili takes her time choosing the dresses and shoes to carry. She finally leaves and forgets her child whom she had directed to be laid on the floor. She is busy rummaging through clothing when the Adjutant is busy pleading that they should run for their lives. She does not care about the many people she is exposing to danger by her delay, Maro, a servant, realizes that, only beasts can leave children behind. She says, “They left it behind, the beasts” (pg 26)
Lavrenti, Grusha’s brother, is irresponsible and neglects her when he fails to look after her. He marries her off to a total stranger and “a dying man” it becomes a double tragedy when Jussup does not die and Grusha does not know what to do with a total stranger who is unaware of her plight and yet she cannot marry her lover Simon. As an older brother of Grusha, Lavrenti fails in his responsibility to support her.
The monk hired to officiate the wedding is irresponsible. He agrees to join a girl to “a dying man.” We are surprised that, the monk, a man who should be a role model is upholding morals in a society is called from a tavern. He is drunk.
DECEIT, RELIGIOUSITY AND HYPOCRISY
Religion refers to having or showing belief in and reverence for a deity on the other hand hypocrisy is deception by pretending to entertain on set of intentions while acting under the influence of another. In “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” cases of religious hypocrisy are common.
Act one of the play begins with Governor Georgi Abashwili going for Easter mass. He is accompanied by his wife Natella, and Michael, their child. Although he would like to pass as a devoted Christian, his regime has oppressed the people it serves. As they enter the church, beggars and petitioners cry over all sorts of problems that bespeaks of a people who have been living in an oppressive regime. They lament, “Mercy! Mercy, your Grace! The taxes are too high. –I lost my leg in the Persian war....The child is starving in my arms....the water inspector takes bribes...... (pg 14)
As for the Fat Prince, hypocrisy reigns supreme. He attends church, wishes the Governor a happy Easter Sunday and bows before Michael. He tickles the child after commenting, “I love a gay sky.....little Michael is a Governor from head to foot!” (pg 15). He also tells the governor there is good news after so much bad. This is total deception that he is loyal to the Governor’s family. Plans to behead the Governor and end Michael’s life are already in place. While he directs the soldier to fasten the Governor’s head in the middle, he displays his hypocrisy when he says, “This morning at the church....Abashwili...I love a gay sky....prefer the lightning that comes out of a gay sky.” (pg 28)
The Monk who is supposed to be religiously inclined is portrayed as hypocritical. He presides over the wedding between Jussup and Grusha while drunk. He is found in the tavern (perhaps taking alcohol) by Grusha;s mother-in-law who threatens to expose him. He is also paid to do the same. Even when Jussup fails to take the vows and instead his mother does it on his behalf, he goes hiding and he has to be looked for by the mother-in-law. Being a religious person, his character should be beyond reproach.
It smacks of religious hypocrisy for Jussup to go through the rigorous of a wedding, a much valued religious ceremony, yet he knows he is pretending to be a dying man. Grusha is hypocritical because she is not committed to the marriage as she does it for own expediency.
The mourners are also hypocritical. They gobble down the cake without being seriously mournful. They seem to expectantly look forward to the death of Jussup. They are sincerely not sad, only greedily wolfing down the funeral cakes.
Aniko pretends to have religious principles that she does not possess. In fact, her hypocritical nature is displayed in her meanness. Lavrenti says she is very sensitive, “People need only mention our farm and she is worried.” (pg 48). Her servants seem to suffer under her as she shouts orders all over. The maid may not be well paid. She once goes to church with a hole in her stocking. Ever since, Aniko has worn two pairs of stockings in church. She is truly hypocritical, feigning to be concerned about Grusha yet she is not. She has false appearance as a devout woman. Lavrenti is afraid of her. He tells Grusha, “You can’t stay here long with the child. She id religious, you see.” (pg 46). Aniko id painted as really heartless. She is the exaggerated embodiment of certain aspects of religious opinions.
Lavrenti is also hypocritical. He also makes Grusha who is honest to be dehumanized by leading her to engage in a fake wedding. He cannot stand up for his sister but sings to the whims of Aniko, “You need a place to go......because of the child.....have a husband, so people won’t talk.....can find you a husband.” (pg 48)
The mother-in-law is hypocritical. She deceives the mourners that Grusha is a bride to Jussup. She pretends that Grusha came from the city to find Jussup alive. The first woman confidentially seems to know Jussup is faking illess and near death to avoid conscription to the war. Another feels it would be a blessing if he does not suffer too long; so she wishes he dies especially now he is of no use as a farmer as the corn is ripe and there is no one to harvest.
POLITICAL AND SOCIAL TURBULENCE
Bertolt Bretcht has profoundly raised the issue of political intolerance that has consequently resulted to social instability. The ruling class has no regard for the woes of the have- nots. Poor leadership has led to violence and suffering of both the nobles and the masses.
First, we are presented with a desperate and deplorable Caucasian village due to war. It is described as war ravaged and is in ruins, “That’s where we stopped three Nazi tanks but the apple orchard was already destroyed......Our beautiful daily farm: a ruin.” (pg 97) The number of villages have declined and people have relocated to other areas. We are told by a wounded soldier, “Comrade, we haven’t as many villages as we used to have. We haven’t as many hands.” (pg 8) The village has been ruined with almost everything being rationed. “All pleasures have to be rationed. Tobacco is rationed and wine.” (pg 8)
People’s normal lifestyle is affected as evident when the Goat Herding commune is forced to relocate on orders from the government. They fight to reclaim the land for they are not satisfied with their new grazing land. An old man comments, “You can’t live there. It doesn’t even smell of morning in the morning.” (pg 8)
Political intolerance has brought fear and insecurity. The girl Tractorist notes that plans to rehabilitate the disputed valley had been conceived during days and nights when they have to take cover in the mountains. She says, “Often we hadn’t even enough ammunition for our half-dozen rifles. We could hardly lay our hands on a pencil. (pg 10)
The effects of political and social turbulences are not restricted to the Caucasian village only. From Arkadi’s performance, we learnt that the war in Persia has spilled to the Grusinian people. Under the leadership of the Grand Duke and Governor Georgi Abashwili majority of the poor people have been rendered beggars. The Governor is confronted by many petitioners who are not comfortable in the state of affairs, The children are emaciated. Some people are in clutches while others have been crippled due to the war. They complain about the high taxes and bribery from senior people like the water inspector. The same people cannot win the governor’s eye and soldiers cause further suffering when they lash at them with thick whips. The state of the poor is deplorable as evident when the Governor contemplates bringing down their slums in order to create room for his gardens.
The political class especially the nobles have no regard to the masses. Michael-The Governor’s heir and son- is served by two doctors, He is the apple of the Governor’s eye. The governor is not perturbed by the suffering of the people. He is contemptuous even to the people who have to provide him with security briefs from the capital. A rider with confidential papers has to wait until the Governor attends the Easter Sunday service and the latter ‘attends’ his visitors-architects- at dinner. It is this indifference that leads the princes to stage a coup and subsequently orders for his execution. The coup comes with numerous harrowing effects. The singer comments: “when the house of a great one collapses many little ones are slain.” (pg 20) . The servants panic and fear for their lives as illustrated when they ask, “what about us? We’ll be slaughtered like chickens. As always.’......There is bloodshed in the city, they say? (pg 21)
Coup results to people being internally displaced as seen when the Grand Duke flees and seeks refuge at Azdak’s place. The Governor’s wife is also relocated to safer grounds while Grusha disappears to the Northern Mountains to protect Michael whom the soldiers desperately want to kill.
Political instability has bred inhuman and sadistic characters. The soldiers who behead the governor also fasten his head on the wall with nails. Moral conscience is lost among people like the old man who cannot sympathize with Michael. Grusha has to plead to get milk for the baby. He tells her, “milk? We have no milk. The soldiers from the city have our goats. Go to the soldiers if you want milk. (pg 31)
Grusha is forced to pay two piasters for a drop. The peasant woman whom Grusha thinks will hide the baby from the Iron shirts betrays her by denouncing Michael. She tells the soldiers, “Soldier, I didn’t know a thing about it. Please don’t burn the roof over our heads.....I had nothing to do with it. She left it on my doorstep. (pg 38) The fabric that holds the society together has therefore been dismantled by political instability.
A conflict is a disagreement that arises when two or more parties dispute or fail to agree. The Caucasian Chalk Circle addresses a number of these disputes.
In the prologue there is a conflict between two land owners over the valley-The Goat Herders Collective Farm and the Fruit Growing Commune. They are arguing over the ownership and usage of the valley. The Goat Herders claim they are the original owners of the valley but have been forced to flee by the government because of war. They have come back because the land they have relocated to is not favourable for their goats. Unfortunately the Fruit Growers have laid elaborate plans for the valley which they will irrigate. They purpose to establish fruit and vine orchards. The delegate from Tiflis helps settle the difference between the two communes.
There is a conflict between the princes and the Grand Duke. The princess want to take over power and leadership from the Duke and his Governors. The conflict leads to staging of a coup where the Grand Duke is exiled and the Governor of Nuka-George Abashwili- is beheaded. The judge of the Supreme Court is hanged and Azdak made the judge.
There is conflict between Grusha-Governor’s kitchen maid- and Natella Abashwili. They both claim motherhood rights to Michael. Natella claims that she is the biological mother while Grusha claims right over the child since she picked him and nurtured him for two years. The mother claims him out of greed for property. The conflict id resolved by judge Azdak who draws a circle round the child and asks the two to pull the child from the circle. Grusha hesitates twice and the judge rules in her favour.
Another conflict develops between Grusha and Jussup. When Grusha gets to her brother’s home in the Northern Mountains, Lavrenti- her brother schemes to have her married to a “dying man” ironically it turns out that Jussup has all along feigned illness to evade war and when news breaks out that the war is over he ‘recovers’ and Grusha is horrified. She had engaged herself to Simon Shashava and cannot imagine cheating on him. Jussup complains that she is not fulfilling her matrimonial duties. He argues, “Can’t the peasant do it herself? Get the brush.....you are my wife and you’re not my wife......God has given you sex.. (pg 56-57). The dispute is settled when Azdak gives Grusha a divorce and then she is free to marry Simon.
There is conflict between Grusha and Simon when the latter returns from war and finds her at the river washing lines. When he sees Michael, he thinks that she has been unfaithful to him. He gets emotional and walks away. He later on realizes that the baby belonged to Natella. He comes to help her acquire the child during the famous chalk circle. He even lies that he is the father to Michael.
Other examples of conflict are between:
SELF-SACRIFICE AND SELFLESSNESS
This is the act of giving up what one has or wants so that other people can have what they need. It is acting with less concern for yourself than for the welfare or success of others. One cares more about the needs and happiness of other people than their own.
Grusha is the best example. When the governor’s wife and her personal servant forget Michael, Grusha takes care of him. Other servants advise her to abandon the child for her own good. One old woman tells her, “Grusha you’re a good soul, but you are not very bright and you know it. (pg 27) Grusha tries to leave Michael but realizes she cannot. The singer tells us that after looking at the baby, Grusha hears as if it is telling her, “woman” it said,’ Help me” (pg 28)
Despite the danger in town, Grusha watches over the baby the whole night and the next day takes him with her. On the way she has to buy the baby milk. When the old man sells to her the milk so expensively, she decides not to buy, but on realizing the baby needs it so badly and the journey is long she goes back and buys the milk.
The baby’s weight weighs on her back but she moves on. She decides to save the baby from starving by leaving it outside the door of a Fat peasant woman. She tells Michael, “The peasant woman is kind, and can’t you just smell milk” (pg 34) She hides behind the tree and observes the woman carry the baby into the house.
She risks her life when she hits the corporal to save the baby. “Again looking round in despair, she sees a log of wood, seizes it, and hits the corporal over the head from behind” (pg 39). It is during her escape that she decides to adopt the baby.
Grusha risks both their lives on order to get away from the Iron shirt. This is when she reaches Janga-Tau Glacier. No amount of warning can stop her and she crosses the dangerous bridge after turning the offer by the merchant woman to hide the baby for her. “I won’t, we belong together.....live together, die together.” (pg 41)
Grusha has to bear the discomfort of her brother’s home. She makes another sacrifice as she has to live with a hard to please sister-in –law. To survive she has to be crafty. She tells Michael they have to be “As small as cockroaches.. the sister-in-law will forget we are in the house.” (pg 47)
Grusha, who is alredy engaged to Simon and has promised to await his return ends up getting married to a ‘dying man’ –Jussup-to make Michael have a legitimate father. This is another sacrifice that she makes.
She endangers her life by following the Ironshirts who have taken Michael. She is a wanted person for having attacked and injured a corporal. What matters to her is Michael. She goes through the court procedure for Michael. It is out of her self-sacrifice that eventually Grusha wins the case.
Other characters that make sacrifices for the welfare of other people are;
SOCIAL CLASS INEQUALITY
There is existence of social classes in the society described in the Caucasian Chalk Circle. There is unfair difference between groups of people in this society. Some are wealthier than others and enjoy a high status or opportunities as opposed to others. The diverse lifestyle enjoyed by the governor and his family is in contrast to the object poverty the lowly citizen has to endure. Georgi Abashwili is “rich as Croesus” (pg 13) “had a healthy baby ...so many horses in his stable (pg 13-14) In sharp contrast “so many beggars in his door step so many petitioners his courtyard.....He enjoyed his life” (pg 14)
The governor and his beautiful wife go to church guarded by extremely many soldiers who are at his service. Beggars and petitioners pour from the church gateway with complains. They display thin children to the governor, others hold up crutches and petitions. They are a pitiful sight. The social difference is due to the poor governance. The governor’s family is expensively dressed. Natella derides the poor, For instance on page 18 she says “It’s impossible to live in such a slum....” When she enters the court, she is relieved that there are no common people: “I can’t stand their smell. It always gives me a migraine.” (pg 88)
From the onset, she dislikes Azdak and on pg 89 she says, “I disliked that man from the moment I saw him” Natella’s behaviour is characterized by false pride and an exaggerated sense of self-importance. She does not have time for the poor beggars and her servants and only identifies herself. Her contempt for the poor is seen in the court when he sees Michael and laments that he is in ‘rags.’
The class of people conscripted to fight the Persian war have been maimed, yet they have not been compensated. The down trodden have suffered injustice while they are innocent, “My brother is innocent, your Grace “misunderstanding”-worse still they suffer from hunger.
To betray is to hurt people who trust you especially by not being loyal or faithful to them.
When the governor is being arrested, the iron shirts of the place guard who are supposed to guard the governor refuse to obey. They stare coldly and indifferently at the Adjutant and refuse to obey him when he commands them. The doctors betray the Abashwili family immediately they realize the governor has been arrested. (pg 21) “on that little brat’s account”
The Fat Prince is with the Governor at the church and even wishes him a happy Easter, yet he is the one who leads the iron shirts in arresting the Governor.
Grusha is betrayed by the peasant woman whom she had trusted not to reveal presence of the child. She is also betrayed by her brother. She has been asked by Simon where she would hide and she confidently says she would run to her brother in the Northern Mountains. When she arrives there, her brother cannot host her with the child because he says his wife is religious and cannot host her. Instead of being given a warm welcome, Grusha stays like a fugitive in her brother’s house. In order to get her out of his house he gets her ‘a dying’ husband and when he ‘resurrects’ she finds herself with a husband she does not love.
Jussup betrays his fellow young men, the government and his mother when he pretends to be seriously sick so that he doesn’t get drafted to war.
Simon feels betrayed by Grusha as she has promised to wait until he returns after giving company to Natella and guarding her on the way to the loyal guards. When he comes, she is apparently married and has a child. He does not know the circumstances that lead her to get married or the nature of the marriage. He feels so betrayed that he cannot even get his cross back but directs Grusha to throw it into the stream.
Natella betrays her own child and her husband when she escapes leaving Michael in the courtyard. She orders a servant to put down the child in order for the servant to run for her little saffron coloured boots to match with a green dress. The baby is left behind.
In Caucasian Chalk Circle the writer explores on the beauty of fair and reasonable treatment of people. Through the legal system used to punish people is not perfect the people who have committed crimes are somehow brought to justice. Justice is a fundamental thematic concern in the prologue. The meeting between the Goat Herders and the Fruit Growers is meant to determine which people deserve to own the valley. The Goat Herders who formerly owned the land had vacated at the approach of Hitler’s armies. Their intended resettlement encounters opposition from Collective Fruit Farmers. With their delegates they sit in a circle signalling their determination to negotiate between themselves in order to reach a fair and reasonable decision without perverting the cause of justice. A delegate from Tiflis presides over the case. Both sides present their arguments as to the reason why they are deserving owners of the valley. They arrive at a consensus through the voice of reason rather that by the rule of law.
The petitioners and beggars bitterly cry for justice. The governor demurs to heed to their pitiable calls for fair treatment. However, reason does not prevail; the soldiers are guilty of abstracting justice by lashing at the pitiful petitioners. They are heavily taxed and expect the water inspector who takes bribes to be brought to justice.
Due to the injustice the people suffer, they are somehow rewarded when the Fat Princes and soldiers plan a coup d’état. The grand Duke and hid governors are overthrown. Although the legal system use to punish people like the Governor and the Fat prince is crude, the people engage in administering justice are convicted that they are justified to put the criminals to the gallows for their heinous crimes.
The singer voices the importance of acceptable and appropriate handling of fellow human beings. Although Azdak is a criminal, he argues that he should not be arrested for stealing only a rabbit. He expresses the opinion that Shauwa is a worse criminal for catching people and will be judged by God. Later Azdak denounced himself for committing an unpardonable crime of ignorantly letting the Grand Duke escape. He persuades Shauwa to chain him and take him to be judged in Nuka. He begs to be shred to pieces because he is conscience-stricken. This way justice will prevail.
Azdak dispenses justice although not in a fastidious or meticulous manner. It is justice in his own fashion. He harbours a soft heart for the vulnerable and down trodden. He encounters no restrictions of the statute book which he seats on instead of making reference to it. The period of his judging is described as “a brief golden age, almost an age of justice.” (pg 99). However, he does not acquaint himself with the legal system of the statute book. He carries not, the professional demeanour of a judge.
He presides over a number of cases some are handled simultaneously; Most of the accused are acquitted though proved guilty. The plaintiffs are condemned and fined. Azdak rules in favour of the doctor who is guilty of professional negligence. Azdak turns justice upside down to the relief of the vulnerable. His ruling is controversial. He declares to the Doctor; you have perpetrated an unpardonable error in the practice of your profession; you are acquitted. (pg 77) Ludovica is accused of committing an intentional assault yet she is the victim of rape by the stable man who is not sentenced.
He acquits the old woman guilty of theft and drinks with the thief, bandit –Irakli whom he addresses as pious man. He offers to sit on the floor and offers the judge’s chair to the old woman. Shauwa’s official designation is prosecutor, however he doubles up as a sweeper. This displays lack of seriousness in court. Sometimes the judge’s chair is carried to the tavern where Azdak carries judgement while drinking wine. The singer comments “Azdak broke rules to save them” (pg 82). He renders verdict to save the poor “The poor and the lowly.” He dispenses justice in his fashion.
When the landowners take law into their hands to get revenge for not getting justice from Azdak, it is his previous human treatment of the Duke that saves him from the gallows. Justices prevails to favour Azdak who is reappointed judge by the order and authority of the Grand Duke who has returned. This dramatic turn of events offers more room for Azdak to preside over other cases such as the famous Chalk Circle.
The writer uses Grusha as a vehicle of justice. She fearlessly condemns Azdak for being corrupt. Azdak asks her, “You want justice, but do not want to pay for it.” (pg 94). Grusha comments sarcastically, “A fine kind of justice” (pg 94) I’d tell you what I think of your justice, you drunken onion!” (pg 95). Grusha is rewarded for her human nature.
Bertolt Brecht was a German poet , playwright and theatrical reformer. He was born in 1898 and became one of the most prominent figures in the 20th-century theater. Bertolt Brecht was concerned with encouraging audiences to think rather than becoming too involved in the story line and to identify with the characters. Bertolt Brecht was born in Augsburg, the son of Beltold Brecht, the director of a paper company, and Sophie Brezing, the daughter of a civil servant. His father was a Catholic, and his mother a Protestant. Both parents hailed from Achern in the Black Forest. Brecht began to write poetry as a boy, and had his first poems published in 1914. Between 1919 and 1921 he wrote theatre criticisms for the left-wing Socialist paper Die Augsburger. After military service as a medical orderly, he returned to his studies, but abandoned them in 1921. During the Bavarian revolutionary turmoil of 1918, Brech wrote his first play, Baal. From this period also dates his poem, 'Legend of the Dead Soldier'. It was cited by the Nazis as one of their strong reasons to deprive him of German citizenship in 1935. Like several other poems, it was set to music by the author, and sung to the accompaniment of his guitar in a Berlin cabaret. Brecht's works have been translated into 42 languages and sold over 70 volumes. The Caucasian Chalk Circle was written in 1944 in Hollywood. Drawing on the Greek tradition, he wanted his theater to represent a forum for debate hall rather than a place of illusions. He aimed to take emotion out of the production, persuade the audience to distance from the make believe characters and urge actors to dissociate from their roles. Then the political truth would be more easy to comprehend. Once he said: "Nothing is more important than learning to think crudely. Crude thinking is the thinking of great men." Brecht formulated his literary theories much in reaction to Georg Lukács (1885-1971), a Hungarian philosopher and Marxist literary theoretician. He disapproved Lukács attempt to distinguish between good realism and bad naturalism. He died in 1956.
The Caucasus is a region that bridges Europe and Asia. The Caucasus is divided by the Caucasian mountain ranges into two regions:
The northern slopes of the mountains reach into Chechnya and other border states of the former Soviet Union
On the southern side of the mountains are the modern-day countries Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Grusinia, where The Caucasian Chalk Circle takes place, is a ﬁctionalized version of the modern day countries; Georgia and Azerbaijan towards the end of the WWII in 1944.
The play was translated to English by Eric Bentley.
The play is a comedy, with a happy ending.
The play is based on communism i.e. whoever can make the best use of resources in order to provide for others deserves to get the best of the resources.
Brecht shows communism through three stories;
The Caucasian Chalk Circle is derived from a circle Judge Azdak orders Shauwa to draw, “.............get a piece of chalk and draw a circle on the floor.” (pg 97). Its purpose is to determine Michael’s real mother. Both Natella Abashwili and Grusha Vashnadze desire custodian of the child. Shauwa is directed to place the child in the circle and the mother to hold him by the hands and pull him out. Whoever pulls him out of the circle would retain him.
It is ironical that Natella, Michael’s biological mother, is denied custody of the child when she pulls him out. Grusha declines to tear the child and consequently ends with the child. The title symbolically signifies the possibility of surrendering what might be rightfully yours for better utilization.
The play infers from both a Chinese play (Circle of chalk written in 1300 AD) and a biblical story (The judgement of Solomon- 1 Kings 3: 16-28)
In the Chinese story, a young girl, HAi-tang, bears a child as the second wife of a wealthy man. His first wife claims the child is her own. However, the second wife is judged the true mother when she refuses to pull the child apart in the test of the Chalk Circle.
In the biblical story, two women live in the same house and both bear a child. One baby dies in the night and its mother swaps him for the living baby. Both claim the living child is their own. Solomon orders that the child be cut in two and each half be given to each mother. The real mother of the child gives up the child rather than see him harmed and is judged to be the true mother.
The agriculturist and herders are seated in circles as they negotiate and in the end the herders agree to surrender their claim on the valley of Rosa Luxemburg since they would put it to better use.
The Caucasian Chalk Circle begins with a prologue which captures a dispute between two communities; the fruit growing and the goat farming one. The clash is over who should own and manage the valley. The Goat Farm Commune Group is the original owner who had relocated due to the advancing Hitler’s army. The fruit growing Commune has demonstrated interest in the piece of land. A delegate from Tiflis-the capital of the Soviet State of Georgia-has been sent to settle the dispute.
The Fruit Growing Collective Farm has made elaborate arrangements of irrigating the valley so as to make it more productive. The delegate awards the land to the fruit growers because they have plans to use the resources better despite the land originally belonging to the goat farming group.
Act one begins when the city of Grusinia has been taken over by the iron shirts and the governor, Georgi Abashwili, is beheaded in a coup that has been planned by his brother, the Fat Prince and his head fastened on a wall. The governor’s wife Natella flees and in the process abandons her child, Michael.
Fortunately, the kitchen maid Grusha salvages the child from the soldiers and the Fat Prince and escapes with him to her brother's place in the Northern Mountains, pursued by soldiers. She endures great suffering in the way, including hostile and uncooperative people. She finally gets to her brother’s place but he (the brother) insists that she must be married to an almost ‘dying’ man by the name Jussup. Jussup has faked illness to avoid taking part in the war. When it is announced that the war is over, Jussup miraculously recovers. Grusha is stuck with a husband she did not want. When Simon (Grusha’s lover) returns from the war, he discovers that Grusha is married and suspects that Michael is her child. Later, the child is taken away from her by some soldiers who claim that he belongs to Natella and he is taken back to the Caucasian village.
Through a flashback, the writer explains how the Grand Duke is sheltered by Azdak, later to be judge, soon after he escapes the bloody coup. However, Azdak is not aware that he is hiding a dangerous fugitive and fearing he might be branded a traitor he presents himself to the soldiers to be tried and soon wins their favour and is installed as judge.
Azdak judges four very weird cases, ruling in each case in favour of the poor. He soon gains reputation for supporting the poor. He serves for two years as a judge, before the return of the Grand Duke. He is arrested for being a ‘traitor’ and as the soldiers are about to kill him, he is saved by the Grand Duke who recalls that he saved his life. He reappoints him to be the judge.
The major case that Azdak handles is that of Grusha and the child. The governor’s wife wants Michael back because without him, she cannot take over the former Governor’s wealth. However, Grusha wants to keep the child because she has raised him for the past two years. Interestingly, even Simon offers to support her in the trial. When Azdak listens to the case, he orders a Chalk Circle to be drawn, after he learns what Grusha has done to the child. The child is placed in the middle and orders the two women to pull saying that whoever can pull him out of the circle will get him.
The governor’s wife pulls whereas Grusha lets go. This is repeated and finally, AZDAK gives Michael to Grusha. The governor’s wife is ordered to leave. Michael’s wealth is taken and made into public gardens.
The message the author is passing across is that resources should belong to those who make better use of them- the child to Grusha, just the same way the valley goes to those who will take care of it. In the end, Azdak divorces Grusha from Jussup, paving way for her to get married to Simon. Azdak disappears never to be seen again.
Summer of 1945
The play begins with a prologue (an introduction to a play) that captures a conflict between members of two collective farms both who claim a stake in a disputed valley. The two rivals are: Goat Farm Rosa Luxemburg and Fruit Farm Galinsk. The two are neighbours.
The goat herding commune claims to be the original owners of the disputed land until Hitler’s armies forced them to relocate. The fruit growing commune has laid down an elaborate plan to irrigate the valley for agricultural purposes. They intend to use a dam across the mountain lake and water seven hundred acres of infertile land and plan to plant vineyards and orchards there
A delegate from the State Reconstruction Commission from Tiflis-the capital city-has been sent to arbitrate on the dispute. He intimates that Goat Farm Rosa Luxemburg occupied the valley before moving East on orders from the government.
The Goat herding commune is now dissatisfied with their new grazing land which they claim is not palatable to their animals. They claim that the valley belongs to them from eternity and the law attests to that. However, members from the Fruit Farm Galinsk explain the reason why they deserve to own the valley.
An amicable solution is finally reached when the land is awarded to the Fruit growing commune and the two groups settle down to eat and drink. Entertainment soon follows when a legendary singer- Arkadi- is invited to perform an old Chinese song entitled, The Chalk Circle. This song is about two stories which have a bearing on their resolved dispute.
The prologue serves several functions; first, it gives the play a unique structure, secondly, enables the playwright to pass on his/her key message and the moral of the play to the reader or audience before he or she watches or reads it. Bertolt roots for communism, that whoever can make good use of something should keep it.
THE NOBLE CHILD
This part opens with Arkadi- the singer narrating a story about Georgi Abashwili, the governor in Grusinia and a rich man who owns numerous horses and soldiers. He is married to Natella and they have a son, Michael.
On the morning of the Easter Sunday, the governor’s family goes to church. At the gateway, he is confronted by many beggars and petitioners. Mothers hold emaciated children as people with clutches and petitions beg for money. They complain of high taxes, starvation and bribery. The governor ignores them and soldiers whip them with thick leather whips to keep them away.
Michael-the governor’s son and heir- is brought along and the crowd sees him for the first time. He is carried in a decorated carriage and is attended to by two doctors. Even the mighty Prince Kazbeki bows before him at the church door.
Natella informs the prince about the Governor’s plan of bringing down the slums to pave way for his garden. The governor has lost interest in the affairs of Grusinian people in spite of the raging war that is taking place. The governor even dismisses a messenger from the city bringing some confidential papers for him saying he can only attend to him after the service. Later the adjutant (an officer who acts as military assistant) informs the messenger that the governor does not wish to receive military news before dinner.
Grusha Vashnadze- governor’s kitchen maid- does not attend the service as she has to get a goose for the family’s banquet. She is seen talking to Simon Shashava, a soldier, who reveals that he often hides behind a bush to watch her dip her legs in the river as she washes her line.
Before the awaited dinner and a talk with the architects can take place, the palace is surrounded and the Governor arrested. George Abashwili is executed and the city is in bloodshed. Natella’s life is in danger. Servants rush out of the house trying to frantically salvage what they can. A scuffle erupts between the two family doctors over who should attend to the governor’s wife who has fainted.
Simon comes looking for Grusha. He aims at wooing her. The two have to part ways when Simon is ordered by the adjutant to guard Natella on her way to safety. He gives Grusha a silver chain that his mother had given him. She promises him that she would wait for him and remain faithful till their re-union.
The adjutant is seen trying to save Natella from danger but she is reluctant to go without her most valued essentials. The adjutant forces her on a horse back amidst complaints that she has left her wine-coloured dress. She leaves her child Michael behind who falls into the custody of Grusha the kitchen maid. As everyone flees, Grusha decides to hide the child under a blanket and keeps the baby company throughout the night. The following day she flees with the child from the Ironshirts who together with the Fat Prince are looking for the baby, “It’s a pity they took the brat along, though, I need him urgently.” (pg 28)
THE FLIGHT TO THE MOUNTAINS
The Singer accounts Grusha escape from the city to the Northern Mountains to save Michael from the Fat Prince and his soldiers. She is carrying Michael in a sack. She journeys along the Grusinian highway on the Northern Mountains after singing “The song of the Four Generals.” As lunchtime approaches, she has to look for a meal to feed the child. She buys milk from a peasant at two piasters, an equivalent to a week’s pay.
Having spent most of her money Grusha keeps on moving towards the north as the Iron shirts who want to kill Michael pursue her. The singer tells us that she then arrives at the River Sirra and with the burden of the child weighing on her; she decides to keep him at the doorstep of a farmyard after realising that the peasant woman has some milk. She anticipates the peasant will feed him and goes to hide behind a tree in order to watch what would happen.
When the peasant woman finds Michael at her door, she takes him into the house. She suggests to her husband that they keep the child but her husband tells her to give him to the local priest. As Grusha hurries off in the opposite direction she bumps on Ironshirts who demand to know where she is coming from. She lies that she is going to meet Simon Shashava. The ironshirts demand the whereabouts of Michael. Grusha gets scared and rushes back to the cottage where she had left the child and pleads with the peasant woman to hide it.
Initially the woman agrees to hide Michael but is immediately frightened by the presence of the soldiers. She reveals to the corporal that Grusha left the child on her doorstep. In desperation, Grusha seizes a log and hits the corporal on the head until he loses consciousness. She then grabs Michael and runs away.
In her flight from the Ironshirts, she finally reaches the foot of Janga-Tau Glacier after journeying for twenty-two days. She adopts Michael. She removes his silken shirt, throws it away and wraps him in rags. Finally, she arrives at the bridge on the glacier still pursed by the Ironshirts. One of the bridge’s rope is broken and half of the bridge is hanging down the abyss. Despite the danger, Grusha is determined to cross the bridge. Luckily they get to the other side of the bridge despite fears and warning by the merchants on the impending danger. She laughs triumphantly to her freedom as the Ironshirts pursuing her cannot cross the bridge. Finally she sings “The Song of the Child” (pg 41)
IN THE NORTHERN MOUNTAINS
After journeying across the glacier for another seven days, Grusha finally arrives at Lavrenti’s (her brother) house. She expects to be welcomed warmly but this is not the case. Her bother has to cook up a story to convince his religious wife that his sister is on her way to her husband’s place at the mountains.
To have Grusha leave the house, Lavrenti comes up with an idea of getting her a husband. He (Lavrenti) organizes to get her married to a “dying” man- Jussup at a fee of 400 piasters. The mother-in-law realizing there is a child demands for an additional 200 piasters for the wedding to proceed. The mother-in-law has hired a cheap monk to unite the two.
After the wedding, neighbours who came to witness the marriage ceremony are served with cakes as they gossip. From the gossiping visitors, news indicate that the Grand Duke has assembled an army to fight the princes that rebelled against him the previous year. When Grusha hears that the soldiers are coming back now that the war is over, she is in shock and drops a cake pan. Her worry being that Simon will come back and find she is married to another man. Once Jussup hears the war is over, he miraculously recovers.
Jussup gets out of bed and the visitors are shocked to see him. He orders them out of the house before kicking them out. Grusha finds herself in a tight position as she discovers she has a husband yet the man she loves is on the way. Furthermore, Jussup demands that she becomes more intimate with him and accuses her of not performing her wifely duties. With time Simon face grows dimmer and his voice becomes fainter.
In a play within a play, we see as Grusha washes linen by the stream accompanied by Michael, she advises him to go play with the other children. As they play they enact the beheading of the governor- Michael’s father. However, instead of playing the part of the governor like the other children want him to do; he insists that he be allowed to behead the fat boy, who represents the fat prince. This foreshadows the beheading of the fat prince later.
As the children play, Grusha turns and sees Simon Shashava on the other side of the stream. After some talk, he sadly learns that all is not well with their relationship. Simon notices the child, Michael, Simon asks, ‘Is there a little one already?’ (pg 61) Grusha admits there is a child but not hers. The singer who speaks for each of the the two character’s thought, reveals much of the information to us. Simon demands that she gives him the silver cross back, but she declines.
Grusha hears the other children calling. She finds the ironshirts taking Michael away. When asked whether the child is hers she responds by saying that she is indeed the mother, something that makes Simon leave a dejected man. The iron shirts take away Michael back to the city.
Grusha follows them to the city but dreads to lay claim on the child. The Singer ends the act with questions about Grusha’s future: “Who will decide the case? To whom will the child be assigned? Who will be the judge?...” (pg 62). The matter will now be handed over by Azdak, the city judge, to determine the rightful owner of the child.
THE STORY OF THE JUDGE
Rewind to the day of the coup, the day Grusha took the child. The village clerk(scrivener), Azdak, has been poaching in the woods and comes across someone he believes to be a refugee. He shelters him for the night only discovering after the man has gone that it was the Grand Duke himself, who escaped the clutches of the rebellious princes.
Rather than risk being found out Azdak hands himself in, expecting to be punished. When he gets to the courtroom he sees the hanging bodies of authority figures and mistakenly interprets the revolution as a people’s revolt. His shouts of joy are interrupted by a soldier who tells him he’s got it all wrong: it’s not a people’s revolution but a military coup. An uprising by the rebellious carpet weavers resulted in all the hangings and the soldiers were brought in to suppress them. Azdak is nearly hanged by soldiers.
The Fat Prince brings his nephew(Bizergan Kazbeki) to be installed as the new judge (the old judge had been killed by the carpet weavers). Azdak suggest that the candidate’s knowledge in law be tested. In a play within a play, Azdak plays the role of the defendant. The soldiers, after testing the nephew in a mock trial in which Azdak accuses the Fat Prince of profiting from the Persian war, makes Azdak judge instead.
Over two years Azdak, with his trusty assistant Shauva, travels the country turning justice on its head, accusing a rape victim of being a rapist herself, sympathising with an old woman clearly guilty of theft, doling out law as he sees fit. Finally the Grand Duke comes back, the Fat Prince is beheaded and Natella Abashvilli returns from exile. Frightened that his behaviour over the last couple of years will land him in trouble now that order is restored, Azdak promises to help Natella get her son back.
THE CHALK CIRCLE
The Singer introduces us to the Act by saying it is “the story of the trial.” The trial is about determining who is the true mother to Michael and in this regard, Grusha has come back to the city to face the law for having taken the Governor’s son.
As they wait for the judge to come, Simon appears and swears he will say he is the father to the child. Then Grusha spots the Ironshirt whom she clobbered and this makes her regret why she came to Nuka. The corporal leaves cursing as he fears exposing Grusha because he would be admitting that he ran after the child to kill it.
The governors wife, Natella, arrives, in her characteristic style, she cannot hide her contempt for the low class and the underprivileged: “At least there are no common people here, thank God. I can’t stand their smell. It always gives me migraine.” (pg 88)
Azdak having been declared an enemy of the new regime( for having worked with the Fat Prince) is stripped of his judge’s robes. The Ironshirts and the farmers tear his gown and beat him. He is about to be hanged when a messenger arrives announcing the Grand Duke would like Azdak to remain as judge, as a thank you for saving his life that Easter Sunday.
Azdak presides over a trial in which he must judge who gets Michael – Grusha, who has cared for him and put herself through hell for him; or his natural mother, Natella, who abandoned him. A heated debate ensues on who is the rightful owner of the child. The prosecutors explain that Grusha has stolen Natella’s child and refuses to hand it over. They advance their case by saying that Grusha does not have any blood relations with the child. On the other hand, Grusha lays claim on the child by saying that she brought him up and always found him something to eat.
Hearing both arguments, Azdak is unable to decide. He adjourns the court to hear the case of an old couple who want a divorce. He tells them he’ll think about it. Returning to Michael’s case, Azdak invokes the ancient wisdom of the Chalk Circle: Michael is placed in the centre of a circle and whoever is strong enough to pull him out must be the right mother. Grusha won’t pull, she cannot hurt him. Azdak orders the women to repeat the trial. Grusha again cannot pull.
Azdak judges that she must be the right mother. Natella faints. Simon and Grusha thank Azdak, who signs the divorce papers – not the divorce of the old couple but Grusha’s divorce from the man she married in the mountains. Everyone dances. Azdak disappears. The Singer explains that the child has been given to the mother who will be best for it – and, reminding us of the prologue, that the land should go to whoever is right for it.
A theme is the main subject or agenda pushed by an author or writer. The river and the source has the following themes:
Feminism: the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. (dictionary.com)
Tradition in most occasions refers to African traditional values that are or should be done away with. In this context though, I explore tradition on the concept of African (Luo) practices that are both good and bad and have been passed on from one generation to another, some still in existence while others, non-existent. I contextualize them in accordance to the mastery of Margaret Ogola‟s book.
The naming ceremony of Akoko sets the bar very high on how a simple function like naming can take astronomical grounds call in all levels of spiritual intervention. The Luo name according to:
The brutality of tradition is seen as the backbreaking industry of Akoko is unnoticed. Tradition notices a woman who grows a generation than the one who ensures food sustainability. Tradition does not recognize love but instead looks at a woman who is loved as a witch. Akoko is accused as a witch by her Maro, mother-in-law, which draws her wrath. When her husband and boys die, Akoko is left groundless. She has to fight using external forces because her tradition does not recognize a woman who has no sons or husband. She would have secured her life if she had chosen to be inherited by Otieno Kembo according to the dictates of tradition.
The whispers of the coming of the white man are first had from Nyaroche and his friend. The two enjoy spreading the beauty of the world man drawing the attention of Obura Kembo. Obura decides to explore the world outside without his parents' permission. We learn of Obura's demise in the war in Tanganyika and subsequently, the calendar floats in.
After Obura's death things in Sakwa are untouched by the influences outside. Like the fictional ridges in Ngugi Wa Thing‟o‟s book The River And The Source- Kameno and Makuyu, Sakwa remains behind like Kameno.
In her agony and loneliness, Nyabera decides to join the Christians in Aluor. She is drawn by the rumour that, the white man's religion recognizes people like her. She is later join by her mother and her daughter Awiti and her nephew Owuor Sino. The family of Akoko is baptized into Christianity. Akoko is named Veronicha, Nyabera-Mary, Awiti-Elizabeth and Awour-Peter. Akoko seems at home with the new religion. She takes to faith as she has embraced the ups and downs of the life she lived. She counsels Awiti and strengthens her in patience and love. She reprimands Nyabera and reminds her to rely on internal
comforts when Awiti joins college.
Peter Owour wants to become priest but what stands between him is the return back home to take his rightful position as the chief of Sakwa. He struggles with indecision fearing Akoko would not like his decision. Nyabera and Owour join Akoko in the garden but the visionary already knew what was cooking. She readily blesses peter and renames him Peter Owuor Kembo after her husband's.
Peter joins the seminary. The element of sacrifice is evident here. Akoko sacrifices her only chance to go back to her matrimonial home for Peter's sake. She forgets about grandchildren roaming in her homestead and chooses to live a lonely life. To her life is giving happiness and finding happiness in generosity. Her element is sometimes construed today as a generalization that Luos forget their homeland and build big houses and mansions in the cities away from home. To Akoko, Alour was home just like any other, times had changed and so was she.
Christianity imparts reason, discipline in the generation Akoko built. Her reflection is seen in the eyes of Elizabeth Awiti and Wandia Mugo as they model their family on Christian virtues. Margaret ogolla mentions little on colonialism but focuses her attention to the independence of Kenya. She relishes the new freedom gained. She portrays her characters as the people who recognized that with independence came the responsibility of building a better society. Mark works extra hard to provide for his family. He takes evening lessons to double his efforts and also rise in ranks. He knows that, with independence better skills are required to build the country. These opportunities are also exploited by Aoro sigu, Vero, Wandia Mugo and the postcolonial generation. She does not portray the society as the one mired with corruption but hope.
Informal education had basic principles which enabled young people to live cohesively with the society. Akoko had been taught to follow the ways of chik. She had been well groomed to obey her husband. The education was tailored to ensure that responsibility and obedience was imparted by instilling fear i.e. one was to abide by the ways of chik.
Mothers were given the responsibility to train children that is why Akoko has greater responsibility in training her children. She ensured that they knew the value of hard work by indulging them in work. '….. his mother's adage that the sun should never rise and find a man still asleep.' Pg 52. “Stupidity in a woman was a sin only greater than stupidity in a man..”pg65
Formal education came through by the Missionary. The disparity in gender is clearly felt as young people joined higher system of education. Many boys joined high school than girls. There were higher dropout rates among girls than boys. Awiti and Peter studied hard to follow their vocation. They took different paths; Peter studied for priesthood while Awiti took to teaching. They had learned the value of education given that resources were awarded according to one‟s occupation.
Mark made sure that all his children had decent education. He struggled to convince Becky to finish her A- levels despite her reluctance. The Aoro's too dedicate their resources to educate their children. Wandia Mugo excels in education to become a doctoral degree in medicine
Death has been used variously in the book. Death represents an end. It cycles around the life of Akoko. The book portends death as inevitable. The first chapter opens with Akoko receiving the name Obanda after her recently dead uncle.
In another twist, Nyabera is given the name Odero after her dead grandfather Chief Odero
Gogni. Obura after escaping home meets with death at the hands of the Germans in Tanzania. The death of Obura represents deprivation. Everyone feels for this loss. Though Obura was the only one who everyone looked up to, this death also creates an opportunity for Owang‟Sino as the next heir-to-the-throne.
Owuor Kembo's health fails him and he soon dies leaving the chieftaincy in the hands of his son Owang‟Sino. This death signifies a change of guard as everyone looks for the leadership of the promising young Owang‟sino.
When Owang‟Sino chokes on the bone of fish, Akoko is at loss. She loses her sense of direction and is left without a pole to hold on to. She has to rely on her own instincts, her inner power and wisdom to forge a life of her destined future. This death represents despair and confusion. It determines a turning point from the decadent tradition of male property ownership to woman self-reliance-feminism.
Nyabera is surrounded by death. All her children die save for one-Awiti. Nyabera's life brings about a change of course as she moves away from hope in ever diminishing life of childbearing and walks on the path of appreciation of individual life and what Were has to offer. The death of Akoko represents transition. She had become the light and cushion and hope everyone looked up to. Her death is a seal of the new bond she found in the union of Mark and Elizabeth. It is a blessing in sadness that after all is said and done; she has fulfilled her life as a father/mother to a generation of change. Fate had made her grow wiser and her decisions transformational.
When Elizabeth loses her first to ignorance, we learn the sad reality that, with the new education, few get to learn about the basics of child bearing and caring. The young couple is so ignorant of the early signs of pregnancy that they take it as malaria-a common mistake. Becky‟s death wakes the sad reality of HIV/AIDS as it pops its head in Africa. Becky‟s lifestyle and mannerisms exposed her to the ugliness of life. A lesson that students have to learn that life in itself has monsters and limitations to any choice one chooses to live.
Awiti and Mark's death finally rests the life that begun in Sakwa many year ago, pulsated through the caves of Aluor almost finding a waterfall in the death of Akoko but picked up to Nakuru culminating in Wandia and Aoro.
Many will argue that death is not much of a theme but recurrent topic. Majorly, I argue that death is as much a theme and a strong one because theme is what recurs in a story. Having said that, I believe that, death offers lessons of perseverance and the will to survive despite the prevailing circumstances. Death also re-evaluates and opens up other avenues in life that have been unexplored.
Change as a theme has been of central focus in African literature. In so many ways, change is viewed as the move from traditional perception of society to the modern ways. Change can be radical or transitional as seen in The River and The Source.
The River and The Source brings about a situational type of change. The characters we come across in the book are open-minded individuals who are visionaries. They embrace change and accommodate radical views moderately.
Akoko involves the white administration in securing the custody of her grandson. The way the colonial administration handles the matter is profoundly unimaginable. The DC involves the traditional customs and regulations to resolve the matter amicably instead of descending on Sakwa with guns and clubs. This raises some hope in Akoko and her confidence in the white administration. The subtle British influence on the matter and the knowledge of traditional culture shows that the DC understood the importance of coercion as opposed to use of radical force. He knew it was just a matter of time.
Petro Owuor‟Sino and Elizabeth Awiti start the white man's education after leaving Yimbo. They learn Arithmetic and religion and successfully secure careers based on education and not a transition from childhood to adulthood where the only obligation was marriage. The new education offers opportunities and diversifies. Regardless of the education, owuor remembers that he has great responsibility as the chief of Sakwa. This responsibility makes him uncomfortable but soon he is given blessings by his grandmother to pursue what his heart desires.
Change requires sacrifice. Akoko knew how much she sacrificed to make Owuor pursue his padre education but she was happy that she was embracing this new life leaving the little about traditional obligations behind. Nyabera sacrifices her love for Awiti and lets her join a Teacher Training College.
The marriage negotiations of Elizabeth are a fascinating spectacle. For the first time, the women are directly involved in this age old custom. Akoko makes sure that the marriage does not take the aspect of selling a girl to her potential husband but a custom that has to be obeyed. In this context, the little Mark Anthony gives is just a way of appeasing chik and not dowry per se.
It comes as a surprise that Akoko serves Kong‟o during the negotiations. Many would have expected that since she was a Christian, Akoko would not indulge in traditional practices, which in some churches are condemned to witchcraft but to Akoko. Change is about embracing the new and the old alike.
7. PARENTING/ RESPONSIBLE PARENTHOOD
In traditional Luo society ladies were trained to respect their husbands. Of Akoko, “she has been carefully brought up and has been taught all the requirements of chik. She is a very apt pupil and will therefore not bring ruin to her husband by improper conduct. (pg21)
Akoko taught her children to value and appreciate work. She reprimanded them on idling, of obura she says, “It seems I don‟t give you enough work. Only an idle mind can think of such nonsense……. Now go and help the herdsmen with their task.” (Pg 49)
Akoko teaches her children to wake up early (pg 52). When Obura ran from home, Akoko thought that he had overslept. She had taught him to wake before the sun rose. On Nyabera, “(Akoko) she believed that a young woman had to be intelligent, fast on her feet and hardworking.” (Pg65)
Akoko and Nyabera brought up Awiti and Owuor Sino in a loving way. They were given
education at the mission station and baptized to Christian. Akoko gave her kin space to make choices and she approved of them. “I had also hoped that you would marry and provide many sons to ensure the continuity of Owuor Kembo: but no I will not stand in your way” (pg126)
Nyabera learned the art of consolation from her mother. When Akoko dies, she takes it in
gracefully to console Elizabeth Awiti who was inconsolable. (Pg154)
Mark and Elizabeth worked hard to take care of their children. When Aoro misbehaves in school, “Since when did you see breakfast walking in here by itself?” Mark says as he sends his boy Aoro to go and look for food for himself. Mark wanted Aoro to learn perseverance and hardwork. “……his mother rushed out to her son. Mark walked into the bathroom and returned with a basinful of water….” (Pg189) Mark displays principals of a strict disciplinarian who values hard work though he loves his children. Elizabeth checks Mark‟s anger by bringing in some kind of motherly tenderness where Mark shows relentless brutality.
Aoro and Wandia Mugo also are exemplary parents. They are much caring especially to Daniel who suffers Down‟s syndrome. They take in Alicia and Johnny Courtney, the children of Becky after Becky passes on. In love and guidance, the Aoro's help shape the destiny of the Courtney‟s “Johnny you are the most lovable person I know. I couldn't love you more if you were my son, but never blame the colour of your skin for anything” Wandia told (Johnny pg 303)
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN CHAPTER SIX
- The children pass their exams and Mark prevails upon his beautiful daughter Becky to continue with her A-levels.
- Maria dies at the age of 70.
- Relate the death of Maria to that of Akoko Obanda.
- In your opinion and basing on Becky‟s decision not to join A-levels. What is the importance of education?
- Beckey was extremely beautiful. Any man certainly would have paid heavy bride price for her. Consider many years ago- Akoko was exceptionally beautiful and thirty head of cattle were given in appreciation. At this age and time hover, what Beckey is looking for is work and Mark, instead of being ready to take in suitors, is busy sending his girls to school.
- The death of Maria Nyabera yanks life away from Aluor and the present da river rages on in Nakuru wanting to burst into other corners of the world. From what we see, this river does not turn back.
THE RUNAWAY BECKY
Vera and Becky are now in the prime of their ages and boys are milling around. One guy,
Tommy Muhambe is interested in Vera. Vera brings this question to her dad requesting for permission to go with Tommy to the movies.
When results came out, Aoro had performed well in his O-levels with six distinctions. Vera got two A's and a B. she decided to do electrical engineering at the university.
Becky flunked in her subjects but she had other plans which after the results she put into force by secretly eloping from home leaving behind a note.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN CHAPTER SEVEN
- Opiyo and odongo return to Nakuru after the death of their grandmother.
- 2. There are a total of five candidates at different levels in Mark‟s house. Opiyo and Odongo doing their CPE, Aoro his O-levels and Vera and Becky their A-levels.
- Vera asks permission to go to the movies with Tommy Muhambe.
- When results come out, Vera decides to pursue electrical engineering while Becky elopes to the city.
- Differentiate between life in traditional African courtship and modern day courtship.
- Explain the character of Vera as shown in this chapter contrasting it to her twin Becky.
- Vera portrays maturity when she asks her father to give her permission to go to the movies. She showcases aspects of adult responsibility and respect for her father unlike many girls who elope without asking. It was unthinkable for her father to deny her such a huge chance when she had expressed herself very well.
- Becky on the other her shows her sheer lack of self expression by simply slipping away without having her chance with her parents. The image here is reminiscent of many families whose children choose to escape into a world where they think they can make independent decisions.
LIFE IN CAMPUS AND THE BREAK UP
Vera maintained her steady relationship with Tommy. Tommy proposes to her but she declines ending their 3 year relationship. With emptiness in her heart, Vera ventures on a journey to look for her long lost twin sister.
She finally tracks her sister at Jomo Kenyatta International airport.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN CHAPTER EIGHT
- Vera adapts to campus life and its freedom.
- Tommy‟s proposal from marriage is humbly rejected by Vera.
- Vera goes on the hunt for her long lost sister and tracks her down at the Airport.
- Explain the reasons for Tommy‟s rejection. Was it premature to propose?
- Do you think Vera made the right decision to track down her sister? Discuss.
- The decision on marriage now lies between two consenting adults. It is not like time ago where the father accepted or rejected the offer. Vera unlike her great grandmother turns down Tommy Muhambe‟s marriage proposal.
BECKY RETURNS HOME
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN CHAPTER NINE
- Becky is engaged to be married to a Canadian John Courtney, the pilot.
- Vera and John manage to convince her to go back home and visit her parents
- Discuss the barriers associated with inter-racial marriages.
- Does Becky love Courtney or money? Explain.
- Society is now expanding making the world a global village. Inter-racial marriages are now commonplace. Vera seems comfortable with her white boyfriend.
Mary-Anne invites Vera to a recollection at Parkview College, which she readily agrees. It was Sunday the two girls went to church where they enjoyed service. After service Vera‟s mind had many questions about her religion and how well she knew it.
That evening she went to watch a play and enjoyed it. The week that followed was full for most student in the university were preparing for their final exams. Vera had learned the art of preparing early and so she was more than ready.
When Saturday came, the girls boarded a matatu towards Kangemi. Vera was introduced to a group of Christians who had different view of church and work among other lives challenges.
She got out of the church puzzled but Mary-Anne offered to give her books which will help her understand better.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN CHAPTER TEN
- After the break up Vera resumes normal life trying to re-establish herself.
- She attends a church service where she starts questioning her spirituality and how well she knows God.
- Mary-Anne introduces her to a group of strict church people where she earnestly starts on the journey of understanding her mission towards God.
- Vera sets on a new journey to redefine herself. Discuss the events that transpired in Nyabera‟s life back then that led to such huge change we see in the book.
- There are many questions about spirituality that we confront every day. Basing on Vera's questions, do you think learned people appreciate Christian values and their roles?
OBSERVATIONS MADE FROM CHAPTER TEN
- Usually when one is faced by major challenges in life, they reflect upon their life to make some decisions which may ultimately change their future. Vera, recovering from a broken relationship tries to make some decisions which bring her closer to understanding her spirituality. This leads us to the question, is it only pain and despair that draws us closer to our God?
1. OWUOR KEMBO
He listens to the council of Jodongo before he makes any decision. When he is told of the
antecedents of Akoko he listens keenly and every word of the Jawng‟yo, the spy, goes to his making what will be his ultimate decision-to marry Akoko no matter the cost. His choice of words reveals a person who is thoughtful before he speaks. He generously accepts to the 30 head of cattle of bride without negotiations. He is ready to share his office with the family of Otieno Kembo, he tells the elders that Otieno has many children who can take over chieftaincy in case his own son is taken away.
Decisive/Proud/A Man of Honor
Chief Owuor Kembo decides to surprise his in-laws by paying the suggested bride price. this reveals to us his pride and devaluation of life. He is the kind of a person who takes challenges easily as long as he knows the value of the challenge. In so doing, he earned the respect of Yimbo and admiration of Sakwa and above all the love of Akoko. Chief Odero Gogni tells Oloo, his Spokesman to set the bride price at 30 so as he can trim the pride of this people from Savanna land.
When he visits Yimbo he stands upright exuding respect and honour. The writer says he was obviously a man of Nyadhi.
Stubborn/Incorrigible/Quick to Anger When Provoked
Chief Owuor Kembo stubbornly remains monogamous in a land that worships polygamy. This is aggravated by the fact that Akoko, however beautiful, was not the kind of a woman who easily got children and therefore the children came in sparingly.
Despite pleas for his mother and incessant calls from the council of jodongo, Owuor sticks to his decision of having only one wife. He was in position of marrying more wives but he was satisfied by having only one wife a condition that almost caused him to smite his mother out of anger.
This incident occurred when Owuor arrived home to find his wife missing. He learns that she had had to leave after being accused by the mother-in-law of being a juok. After his anger was calm, he called the council of Jodongo and wisely consulted, stubbornly insisting that he should bring the mother of his children back regardless of the dissents among the elders.
Owour loved his wife so much that he did not further wish her any more pain when she gave birth to Owang‟ Sino after a laborious labour. He decided not to try and make any more children.
He persistently remains monogamous despite the incessant calls from the people of Sakwa because of his feeling for Akoko. He is satisfied by her. Akoko is treated as a queen and she does not disappoint in contrast Otieno Kembo treats his wives like sluts and they do not disappoint either.
Owuor likes to sit around with his wife and listen not only to her voice but also to the wise counsel she espouses. He makes friends with her and after the evening meal he would go to her house to talk. A wonderful man indeed!
He carefully advises Obura to forsakes his dreams about seeing the world and concentrate on getting ready to be chief after he is gone. He does not use force over his child but let‟s Obura speak his mind.
Otieno kembo is avaricious. He envies his brother‟s wealth an unashamedly uses it to marry more wives. His greed for power surpasses reason and he steps into Akoko‟s wealth when all her sons and husband die. He marries two more wives in quick succession when he is ordained as the custodian of the chief's stool.
Despite having not worked in building the wealth of his brother, he relishes it as his own. He and his family expect the Owuor Kembo‟s to pay bride price for his sons. Outrageous enough, with mature sons he has no sense of reason but to continue marrying women.
He fears Akoko despite her small body. When Akoko rouses the whole village in the morning, he threatens to teach her a lesson but grows cold feet when she confronts him. He also fears to confront AKoko when he learns that she had reported him to the DO.
He does not value women; he treats his wives like sluts while his brother treats his wife like a queen. He does consider the situation of his women and that is why, in Akoko‟s words, they go borrowing food in the house of the money due to the number of children growing in his household. He abusive Akoko when she threatens to go back to her people in Yimbo.
4. NYABERA ODERO MARY
Nyabera loves children and while young willingly shares her food with them. She loves her daughter Elizabeth and feels so bad when Elizabeth is to join a teachers training college. Her love for children makes her fear that Elizabeth, with her education, might not get a husband. Her love for children makes her, despite the many deaths in her children, as a married woman to Okumu, inheritance with Ogoma to still try her luck which again turns out disappointing.
She looks at the mess she had created by involving herself deeply with Ogoma Kwach and realizes the pain she could have caused his (Ogoma) wife and children. She decides to opt out. She is patient but determined get children despite the fact that all her children die after living for some time.
She does not give up on her quest to get more children until when on the third man, she decides to give up to fate and take care of her Awiti.
She makes a decision to join Christianity after getting some information from Pilipo. In her new religion, she contemplates that her mother Akoko might love the idea. She goes to Yimbo to get her mother, daughter and nephew.
Owuor „ Sino is confides in her about his plan to join priesthood. He finds courage in her
(Nyabera) to go and speak to his grandmother about going to the seminary.
5. OWUOR SINO (PETER OWOUR KEMBO)
He is a humble boy who is conscious about the feelings of others. He changes his mind about chieftaincy but is reluctant to tell his grandmother whom he cares about how she will react to such an act of betrayal.
He loves his grandmother and feels horrible about hurting her with his change of mind. He cares about her hopes and dreams to rebuild her shattered life in Sakwa.
He performs well academically. He looks a promising student. He decides to follow religion which he has dedicated most of his time studying and obeying.
He makes a hard and lifelong decision to live a celibate life despite his family‟s lack of male history.
6. OWANG’ SINO
Eager to please/Ready to please
As a young boy he was always calm and eager to please. After the death of Aoro he tries his best to be the image of Aoro or a better person for he lived in the shadow of his (Aoro‟s) fame. When he becomes chief he is good to his subjects like his predecessor but the people of Sakwa get shocked when he chokes on a fish bone and dies.
Loving/considerate/an apple of his father’s eye
He glows with pride when his father is around. He knows that with the death of his brother, a young man of repute, a huge responsibility had been bestowed on him (Owang Sino). His leadership therefore is without incident. He shows love and consideration to his subjects and tries as much as he can to earn their love.
He is not rebellious and does not exercise his will like his brother. He follows the dictates of chik and marries as soon as was deem fit. He takes over his responsibility as chief and subjects himself to making his people happy.
6. AWITI, ELIZABETH
She works hard in school and achieves the highest level of education at the time for a girl.
She does not deter from her dream of success in life. She steadily progresses avoiding any
interruptions from the overtures from the boys around until she meets Mark Anthony Oloo Sigu.
She loves her husband and cares about her children. She understands Mark Sigu even when he cheats on her. She works at bringing a united her. She is the first one to get up when Anthony is attacked by acute appendicitis. She comes to Aoro‟s rescue when he faints before his father.
She reports Aoro to his father and takes a cautious background while he is being punished. Though she allows Mark to be as strict as a military man he is, she also comes to the aid of the children. She gives Aoro and Anthony when they are denied food for not taking care of Oloo and Opiyo. She reconciles Becky and Vera when the two get into a confrontation.
She gets acquainted to Wandia in the shorts time and the two hit out a conversation like old friends who have just been reunited. Wandia was AKoko while Awiti was Awiti of the old. Their friendship blossoms into a kind that exists between a mother and a daughter until when she dies, Wandia faints.
When in what could be viewed as sheer coincidence the family of the Sigus have a small
unexpected re-union, she cooks a lot of food for the family and generously shares savors the moment
During her burial, many people who knew her, old and young came to share the grief of the Sigus. Her contribution as a teacher and disciplinarian and accommodating nature was seen in the number of those who came to mourn.
7. MARK ANTHONY OLOO SIGU
He relentlessly wrote to Awiti until she replied to his letters. His uncle says that they trusted his judgment on issues and that is why when he told them that he had found a girl, they came to negotiate on his behalf. While talking with Akoko, Akoko is seen to have heard a happy laughter and gay eyes showing just how much Akoko approved of his witticism.
He does not condone laziness and indiscipline. He punitively punishes Aoro and Anthony when they err. He almost sends Aoro to his death with starving when the boy is suspended from school.
However, he gets to soft with Mary until Becky wonders loudly what Mary could do to get punished. Becky feared Mark‟s toughness that after her A-level, she had to run away from home to further her career as an air hostess- a profession Mark was against.
Vera on the other hand, was level headed enough to ask her father whether she could go on a date with her boyfriend Anthony Muhambe.
He works hard to provide for his family. He ensures that besides food on the table and
comfortable house, all his children have achieved education to the highest level. His value in education is shown when he insists that Becky must do her A-levels.
He disciplines himself to love only his wife after a short lived rendezvous with a certain girl. He also ensures that, his work ethics and competence are adhered to hence earning him the deserved promotion.
When Kenya achieves her independence, Mark takes a correspondence school to enhance his expertise at work. This shows his dynamism to embrace change and also meet the goals of the rapidly dynamic world.
He loves his family and wife. He makes them comfortable and offers a sense of security. His purpose in life is to take care of the welfare of his family. He does this by directing his energy at work.
His is a rather caring parent too. When Elizabeth gets complications with her last pregnancy he does everything in his power to be with her. This makes his love for Mary to hit the roof because of how delicate the situation had been.
8. AORO SIGU
Aoro and Tony love playing just like any other young people. Their mischief lands them in trouble, when Oloo almost drowns as the two elder boys had gone on their separate ways. He observes Tony‟s stitches after he had come from hospital with interest and with a dexterity that was amazing, managed to successfully operate on a frog.
He is always at the top of his class making distinctions in sciences, a feat that is highly regarded in Kenya, which lands him to medical school. In medical school he meets Wandia Mugo an equally brilliant student. The two are neck to neck in class taking the first two slots. In anatomy, Aoro loses to Wandia. This defeat makes him take a very tough challenge; dating Wandia. She turns him down severally but Aoro is relentless. He finally wins her over.
Aoro decides not to further his studies in Medicine. He takes to private practice. However, he supports his wife‟s endeavours to further her career. Wandia says that she almost gave up but his determination and support gave her the agility to go on.
Aoro is level headed. In many societies in Africa, women overachievers are always looked at as loose cannons or feared for their open mindedness. Aoro embraces his wife‟s higher educational accolades and respectfully loves her as who she is.
He is pragmatic enough to reason with his father and change Mark‟s perception of the Gikuyu.
9. WANDIA MUGO
Wandia Mugo as a young child wanted to be a doctor and a teacher too. She envisions that as a doctor, she would be able to help her society, as a teacher, she would train future doctors. She works hard to achieve both goals. Additionally, she makes sure that she is at the top of her profession.
Despite learning and getting to the top of her career, she values Aoro who is just a simple
doctor.she recognizes the sacrfifce Aoro made for her sake. She stands by Aoro and she is
greatful to have him for a husband Wandia teaches modern women the value of education in life and the essence of respecting men regardless of their low standard in life. She recognizes the fact that, men and women need to treat each other with respect regardless of one‟s level of education
She accepts Aoro even though they were from different tribes. She falls into intimate friendship with Elizabeth Awiti. In fact she finds it hard to accept her death. She takes in Becky's children and treats them as her own.
religiously joins OPUS DEI after breaking up with her long time boyfriend Anthony Muhambe.
She declines to join the school she was called to so that she can be with Becky. She is
overprotective of Becky until when Becky shows her true colour. Regardless, Vera, while at the university, takes the initiative of going to look for Becky at JKIA.
She supports those around her, talks to Alicia against her moving to away from home. She also supports Wandia when Daniel gets ill.
She cares for her sister a lot and sacrifices a lot to make sure that Becky is comfortable. For instance, she joins Riverside to be with Becky in the same school.
She keenly observes the relationship between Becky and her children and is forced to intervene.
She gets into a confrontation with Becky which hurts her feelings deeply
She decides to breaks up with her boy friend and hence decides to join Opus Dei.
She is a realist, she asks her father to go out with Tony. She turns down Tony‟s proposal.
Becky is overly self possessed. She gets jealousy of the attention given to Mary. She accuses Vera that Vera always hated her.
She concerns herself with her own well being.
Becky despite her marriage to John Courtney engages in extra-marital affairs. She is divorced and finally dies of HIV/AIDS.
The money she obtains from men is invested in the name of her two children who do not suffer since they get good custodians in the home of the Aoro‟s.
It moves from one event to another progressively to the end. Unlike many books, The River and the Source lacks real conflicts for one cannot fight with nature. The supernatural forces within the book sets the motivation in Akoko to live on and see another day unlike in other novels where, revenge is motivated with a wrong done or the antagonist has to face off with the protagonist. The protagonist has to learn the antagonist‟s weaknesses and defeated for a happily ever after life.
The River and The Source begins with a fine morning where a child is born in the house of Aketch the Second wife of the Great Chief of Yimbo Odero Gogni Adinda. The child is the first born daughter in a family of already seven sons. Significant in the beginning of the text is the naming process, the Nak festival and the resounding marriage of Akoko to Owuor Kembo.
Akoko‟s marriage, despite the love that exists between them, faces some challenges. Akoko is hard at bearing children a condition that rubs the mother-in-law the wrong way. Despite her being industrious and successful she is faced by galloping problems.
As fate would have it, Nyabera did not get a son to lean on. She stealthly walked out after her attempts to continue Okumu‟s family with Ogoma Kwach hit a rock. She decided to live her matrimonial home and seek refuge in Aluor at the mission Station.
Akoko uncomfortable of her life as a migogo (unmarried woman) joins Nyabera. The young female controlled family includes Awiti, Nyabera‟s daughter and Owuor Sino Owang‟ Sino‟s son. The new life in Aluor shapes Akoko‟s perception of life.
Her perceptive nature sees her accept life as it unfolds. Nyabera tries her luck with family but life has dealt unfairly with her. Beaten up, Nyabera embraces her solitary life, cues her life with that of Akoko and the two women look after their family like accustomed lesbians.
In Aluor Owuor Sino develops a new liking for priesthood breaking the chain of leadership in Sakwa forever. Regardless, times had changed and chieftaincy, as it were, had changed with colonialism.
Nyabera stood in her mother‟s stead and the river moved on. Awiti got married and her young family started her life in Nakuru. Mark with his infidelity learned the spirit of fidelity and brought forth a family of seven children-Vera, Becky, Aoro, Anthony, Opiyo, Odongo and Mary.
Becky Married John Courtney a Canadian and got two children- Alicia and Johnny. Vera joined Opus Dei and chose celibacy. Aoro now a doctor married Wandia a doctor from Central Kenya. They had four children-Lisa, Daniel, Mugo and Kipusa. Opiyo married Edna and they had two children-Elizabeth Jnr and Mark Jnr. Anthony became a priest like his uncle Peter Owour Kembo.
The book, in its dying embers extinguishes the life of Awiti after she had buried her mother many years ago in Aluor besides Akoko. Mark too, succumbs to his loneliness and is buried beside his wife. Overlooking their grave is the beautiful flowers on the grave of Becky who died of AIDS. The Book that started with life continues with life dropping life after life to the engulfing death that never tires.
THE RIVER AND THE SOURCE.
- Survival in a patriarchal society requires a strong willed character. Justify this statement in close reference to Akoko as portrayed in The River and The Source by Margaret Ogola.
- Write an essay to support the statement “The destiny of any society lies in the hands of women”, referring to The River and The Source by Margaret Ogola.
- The White Man’s culture is a blessing to the female gender. To what extent is this statement true? Illustrate using the text the river and the source by prof. Margaret ogola
- Margaret ogola communicates her message in an admirable and pleasant way. Write an essay to describe such four instances drawing illustrations from the text the river and the source
- Basing your answer on the river and the source explain the relevance of each of the subtitles in relation to the whole story
- Death is always a blow to those close to you. Drawing your illustrations from the river and the source, show how Akoko’s death affects Maria Akumu, Elizabeth Awiti and father Peter Owuor Kembo.
- The society in the river and the source is biased against the girl child. Write an essay to support the statement drawing your illustrations from the text, the river and the source by prof. Margaret ogola
- Using three characters in the novel, write an essay to show how the character portrays women as the driving force in society. Base your answer on The River and The Source by Margaret Ogola.
- citing examples from the river and the source by Margaret ogola, write an essay to support the statement, Christianity is a sanctuary to those oppressed by barbaric cultural practices.
- The modern educated woman is still a victim of bad perception. Justify this statement with illustrations from The River and The Source by Margaret Ogola.
- Suffering strengthens the human spirit rather than break it. Justify this assertion with illustrations from The River and The Source by Margaret Ogola.
- Citing relevant examples, write an essay to explain the significance of the title The River and The Source by Margaret Ogola.
- Akoko is the epitome of courage and perseverance write an essay to support this statement basing your answer on The River and The Source by Margaret Ogola.
- Sibling rivalry is the cancer that destroys even the best intentions. Basing your essay on Vera and Becky write an essay to show the validity of this statement using the river and the source by Margaret ogola for your illustrations.
- The purpose of female existence was marriage and childbearing. Write an essay in support of this statement using The River and The Source by Margaret Ogola.
- “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Write an essay to support this statement
- Using the story of Simon Shashava and Grusha Vashnadze, write an essay on how true friendship can overcome hardships.
- “True motherhood is not necessarily biological.” Write an essay illustrating this statement
- “Dispensing justice is not a matter of one’s training rather one’s orientation.” Basing your answer on Azdak , justify
- ”A good turn deserves another.” Illustrate the validity of the statement.
- What is the importance of the prologue in the text
- “That what there is shall go to those who are good for it.” Citing examples, justify
- “Corruption has hindered the administration of justice in our society today.” How valid is this statement
- Grusha has all rights to Michael’s motherhood. Discuss
- Using illustrations from the play, contrast the character traits of Jussup and Simon
- Discuss the ideology of communism in the text
- How has the author used irony in telling the story.
- Azdak is the king of satire, how true is the statement.
- How are the characters of Grusha and Azdak important to front the intended message of the play.
- Discuss the effectiveness of the style play within a play.
- “Grusha is a victim of circumstances.” citing relevant examples from the play, discuss
- Write an essay on the causes of coup de tat in the city of Nuka
- Azdak is the voice of reason in the text, to what extent is this statement true
- How are songs used as story telling devices in the play. Explain
- “War can have devastating effects on the citizens of a nation.” Basing your answer on the play, discuss.
- “A person’s life can be propelled by forces beyond his control.” Support this statement with sufficient illustrations from the text.
- “Choices have consequences.” Basing your argument on the text, validate this statement
- How controversial is Azdak. Discuss this statement making reference to his cases.
- Grusha’s life is characterized by making hard choices and sacrifices. Prove using the text.
- Basing your answer on Natella Abashwili, discuss the saying, “pride comes before a fall.”
- “It is better for a country to have no justice system than to have a corrupt one.” Discuss
- Just after handing over the baby to Grusha, Azdak makes one positive mistake. State the mistake and write an essay as to why you think the mistake is a positive one.
- “Being hypocritical is a trait that subtracts the human element from the said person and tags the callous element on them. Justify using the text.
- When a person combines power and wealth, they become both insensitive and vulnerable to simple manipulation. Make your response basing on Georgi Abashwilli.
- “Blood is thicker than water.” How does the playwright negate this statement?
Change is good and sometimes necessary but there are times when the person who takes over an office may have undesirable qualities just like his predecessor. These are ironies of life. Azalar who is rogue takes over from a judge who was equally a crook as brought out in The Caucasian Chalk Circle, true justice is not served.
“Accept any relevant introduction” (2 marks)
- Azdak who is the new judge lacks decorum, he sits on the judges chair and peels an apple (p 75) he also sits on the statute book (pg 90). He exchanges words with Grusha in court (pg 95) ... and you silly girl.....
- Azdak openly asks and receives bribes (pg 77), (pg 75), (pg 94,95)
- He is unconventional in the way he administers justice
- He allows an accused person to sit on the judge’s chair and he sits on the floor (pg 81)
- He at one point move from the courtroom to the crime scene (pg 77) “It does justice good to be done in the open ...”
- He shaves in court (pg 83) Azdak sits in the floor, shaving...
- Azdak is drunk he allows drinking to take place in the court room. He shares his drink with the accused pg 84.
“Azdak sits on the floor, glass in hand .........” (pg 82)
Pions man, empty a pitehec of wine...
- He favours the poor and let’s them get away with crimes. (pg 84), pg 82), pg 87), pg 92) he favours the weak and the oppressed.
- His rulings are not based on the rule of law. He uses unuthodox means and ancient wisdom to divide on cases (pg 97) he makes a test to decide who the mother to Michael is.
Azdak is presented as a rascal in his manner of dispensing justice and character. He comes out as corrupt, dishonest and irrational. Though his era as judge is described as golden, he has glaring weaknesses, which leads to skewed justice.
“Accept a relevant conclusion” (2 marks)
Lang max 4 marks
Betrayal In The City [MOKASA 2016]
Drama: Caucasian Chalk Circle – BertoltBretch [Mokasa 2016]
Drama: Caucasian Chalk Circle – BertoltBretch [Mokasa 2016]
The Whale Rider – WitiIhimaera [Source: Mokasa 2016]
Issues of basic human rights such as freedom of expression, justice and others are at times not a priority in many African countries, therefore those who push for the same end up being in problems with the government as seen in Francis Imbuga’s Betrayal in the City.
When individuals like Jusper push for what he feels was a right,he together with other characters find themselves in trouble with the government which lands him in prison.
NB.The introduction can be specific or general.
Ri. Adika who was a university student leader, leads students to participate in a strike to protest the employment of expatriates at the expense of qualified Kafira citizens which they felt was a violated right . This gets him killed.
Rii. Jusper,Adika’s brother decides to fight for justice for his brother’s brutal death by killing the alleged brother’s killer Chagaga, the sub-chief’s brother. This leads to him being arrested and imprisoned.
Riii. Mosese, a university lecturer,tries to exercise his freedom of expression during Adika’s funeral, against the directive of the state. A drug is planted in his car to enable his arrest which eventually leads to his imprisonment.
Riv.Regina, Mosese’s sister in her quest to have her brother freed from prison,goes to plead his case to Boss at Tumbo’s advice. She is almost raped by Boss and is forced to to jump out of a ten-foot high window.
Rv.Doga and Nina,Jusper’s parent insist on carrying out their son’s Adika’s shaving ceremony which they had been asked not to. With the aid of Jere, they go ahead and carry it out. They are later murdered in cold blood.
Expect any four(4) well explained points.Award 3:3:3:3
It is true that when people practice their rights, they end up being in trouble with the government.
The Caucasian Chalk Circle 1
The Caucasian Chalk Circle 2
The Caucasian Chalk circle 3
The Caucasian Chalk circle 4
The Whale Rider - Part 1
The Whale Rider - Part 2
The Whale Rider - Part 3
The River and the Source - Part 1
The River and the Source - Part 2 The River and the Source - Part 3 The River and the Source - Part 4 The River and the Source - Part 5 The River and the Source - Part 6
Oral Skills - Part 1
Functional Writing - Part 1
When not teaching, maurice is finding for solutions
Betrayal In The City [MOKASA 2016]
BETRAYAL IN THE CITY Q & A
CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE CHARACTER AND CHARACERIZATION
CHAPTER ONE: SYNOPSIS AND SUMMARIES OF CHAPTERS - GUIDE TO 'BLOSSOMS OF THE SAVANNAH'
CHARACTERS AND CHARACTERISATION - GUIDE TO 'BLOSSOMS OF THE SAVANNAH'
Drama: Caucasian Chalk Circle – BertoltBretch [Mokasa 2016]
Drama: Caucasian Chalk Circle – BertoltBretch [Mokasa 2016]
THE BIOGRAPHY OF HENRY OLE KULET - GUIDE TO 'BLOSSOMS OF THE SAVANNAH'
The Caucasian Chalk Circle 5
THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE BY BERTOLT BRECHT: LANGUAGE AND STYLE
THEMES - GUIDE TO 'BLOSSOMS OF THE SAVANNAH'
THE PEARL GUIDE
The Pearl (May 2018)
The River And The Source: Chapter Analysis
The River And The Source: Character And Characterization
The River And The Source: Plot
The River And The Source Questions
The River And The Source: Themes
The Whale Rider – WitiIhimaera [Source: Mokasa 2016]
Form 1 to Form 4 kcse past papers latest
Pre-Primary 1 to Std 8 Latest KCPE Past papers
KNEC PAPERS FOR COLLEGE
Contact us anytime
Trusted by over 500 schools and colleges
The list keeps growing 'day in, day out' ... List of Schools in Kenya