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Textaufgabe: Analysis Fiktionaler Text: "A Meeting in the Dark" by N. wa Thiong’o

Choose one of the following:

  1.  “He ought to have rebelled like the other educated young men.” (l. 14f) Analyse why John in A Meeting in the Dark and the police officer in Shooting an Elephant fail to rebel against authority.
  2. Analyse how native women are portrayed, referring to Wamuhu in A Meeting in the Dark and the Malay woman in The Force of Circumstance.



John in A Meeting in the Dark and the police officer in Shooting an Elephant are both young and inexperienced men. Both of them are confronted with a situation they don’t really know how to cope with.

In A Meeting in the Dark John is extremely influenced by his father’s religious belief since he has been educated in this spirit and therefore is imbued by it to the fullest. Due to this religious belief he has been brought up in and the fact that he is extremely scared of his father he can’t tell his parents that Wamuhu is pregnant. Even though he suffers greatly as a result of his father’s overbearing way he doesn’t dare to rebel against him and the values he represents, instead he submits to them.

The police officer in Shooting an Elephant, who is also the narrator of the text, says from the beginning on that he is strongly critical of the British Empire and that he feels guilty of the Colonizers’ ill treatment of the natives. He is torn between his hatred for the Empire and the insults from the natives. When he sees the elephant harmlessly grazing in a rice paddy he is actually determined not to shoot him. But after some time he gives in to the crowd’s pressure since he is afraid of losing his authority and dignity. At this very moment he becomes aware of the fact that he isn’t an authoritative figure of the Empire any longer but just a marionette.

Both main characters have in common that they don’t dare to rebel against a system of values which they don’t believe in. But there’s also a slight difference in the two of them. Whereas John doesn’t resist his father’s authority, the police officer who is supposed to be an authority himself succumbs to the pressure of the crowd and doesn’t oppose its wish.

(315 words)


It’s evident that the reader doesn’t get to know much about either the personality or the emotions of Wamuhu in A Meeting in the Dark and the Malay woman in The Force of Circumstance. Still they are essential to the story and its plot.

Both women are very attractive and beautiful the Malayan woman even looks younger than she is. They both know how to charm men. Wamuhu attracts them by her looks and her smile, whereas the Malayan woman, even though she remains without a name throughout the whole story, seems to have a strong physical presence as she once captured Guy’s attention by her persistent gaze and her intensity.

Even though Wamuhu as a member of the tribe wasn’t entitled to an education she displays a lot of self-confidence by pressuring John into marrying her. She also urges John to stand by her publicly and confess his paternity. John, who is torn between his strict religious belief he was brought up in and the love he feels for Wamuhu, eventually strangles her – thus killing his love and their unborn child.

The Malayan woman in contrast is a powerful figure who determines the action to her advantage. She makes Guy confess to Doris, his English wife, that he used to live with her and that they even have three children together. Consequently, Doris asks Guy if she can return to England. After she has left, the Malayan woman moves back in and proudly claims her position as a wife and mother. She isn’t one of the native women who would fade into the background in face of a white woman.

Although the two women seem to have a lot in common, there’s an essential difference between them. Wamuhu becomes the victim of her ambitions while the Malayan woman emerges victorious.

(301 words)

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