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Adoption of Adult Voice and the Integrity of the Child Narrator in Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Dreams in a Time of War

Henry Indangasi
Makau Kitata


This article evaluates Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s adoption of adult voice in manipulating the child narrator in his childhood memoir Dreams in a Time of War. Situating our discussion on theories of narratology, autobiography and rhetoric, we examine the (in)effectiveness of the author’s adoption of adult voice as a rhetorical strategy in the articulation of his anticolonial exigency in the memoir. This article, therefore, interrogates the child narrator’s claims and knowledge of different historical events as well as his intellectual/critical understanding of the intricate character of colonialism, its structures and his relationship with the adult characters in the memoir. The study reveals that Ngũgĩ’s adoption of adult voice in his childhood memoir succeeds in exposing the author’s anti-colonialism ideas. However, it suppresses the authentic child narrator’s voice; hence, works against the attainment of his intention to persuade the reader on some claims he makes in the memoir about formal education, Christianity and Mau Mau.




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eISSN: 1998-1279