Summary: Prologue

William describes turning on his machine for the first time. Many people have gathered. Some of them have mocked him for months while he built it. Climbing atop the rickety tower that he has built, William connects two wires and releases the machine’s mechanism. As the wind blows and the machine turns, a light glows in William’s palm, and the crowd below is impressed.

Analysis: Prologue

William Kamkwamba’s story begins with a vivid description of the story’s climactic end. Nothing is lost by revealing William’s success. After all, the title of the book is in the past tense. Beginning the narrative with its climax will serve to contrast the events of the coming chapters. William will face obstacles on his path to the moment described, but he will succeed in the end. This technique is often used in biographies to immediately show the moment of triumph. This climax does not have to be reached within a standard plot structure, simply because William has already built the windmill. Learning about his journey to this point will be the sequential narrative to follow. Beginning the narrative with its crucial moment generates a question: how did William get to this point? The narrative will answer this question, and William will find his way to this triumphant moment.

William uses personification and metaphor to enhance his description of the windmill. He describes the windmill’s “plastic arms,” “metal bones,” and “heart” to connect himself to its function. William cares about this machine as if it were a person. He also describes the doubting crowd as animals to deflect their skepticism. Using language, William is already setting himself apart from other people. William’s actions speak louder than their skeptical words. He also reveals his passion for machinery by describing his windmill as a person in itself. William is a caring person, but here we see only his care for machines. Throughout the book, William will reveal how his love for this machine is actually a love for his community. The machine will bring much-needed electricity to his home village.