Themes and message

Religion and identity

The main theme of the short story “A Meeting in the Dark” by Ngugi wa Thiong’o is religion and how it ties to the main character’s identity. 

From the beginning, we learn that John’s family had been happy until Stanley converted to Christianity: 

They had been happy. Then the man became a convert. And everything in the home put on a religious tone. He even made her stop telling stories to the child (…) She, too, had been converted. But she was never blind to the moral torture he inflicted on the boy (…) so that the boy had grown up mortally afraid of his father. 

While Susana sees that Stanley is cruel towards John, Stanley sees his behavior towards John as beneficial: “Their son had to be protected against all evil influences. He must be made to grow in the footsteps of the Lord.”  Therefore, Stanley believes he does all this for the good of his son and fails to see the harmful influence his strict religious practices have on John. Therefore, we can say that Stanley’s religious convictions distort his view of reality. He even believes that it is his responsibility to act “fatherly” to all the villagers, and therefore, his family must set a good example ...

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