literary summary of devil on the cross

The literary summary of Devil on the Cross summarizes the entire novel in a way that readers get the essence of the whole story. 


Taking place in the era of 1980s, Devil on the cross is a Kenyan novel from the post-colonial aspect. It is the novel by Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. However, by the time this novel was published, Kenya was an independent country with its own regulation, but the impacts of colonialism were still on their lives as observed by Ngugi wa Thiong’o. 

Literary Summary of Devil on the Cross 

The story of this novel begins with a Giccandi player, a Prophet of Justice telling a story that he is reluctant to tell, but telling it somehow because of natural force and people’s insistence. 

The setting of this novel is in Ilmorog, which is a rural area in Kenya. The protagonist of this novel is Jacinta Wariinga who is presented in the second chapter. She recently has broken up with her boyfriend and was dismissed from her job because she refused to fulfill the filthy demands of her boss. Jacinta is badly dishearted after all this. She resolved to get back to her village and her parents.

While waiting for the bus at a stop, she instantly thought of attempting suicide and jumped in front of a bus. Although, she was saved by a man before she could work on her plan. Jacinta told him about what she had been through in her life. When she was a young girl she got pregnant by a man who made her his sugar girl. She was forced to leave her childhood behind and all her dreams. That man was impressed by her hardships in life and her struggles. 

That man asked Warringa if she wants to come to that party called The Devil’s Feast. It was a contest in modern theft and robbery. He tells Warringa that whatever happened to her so far will make sense once she will attend this feast. Jacinta is in confusion about whether to go or not. The contest was taking place in Ilmorog and Jacinta had to go there to meet her parents. Her confusion was also because the advertisement for the festival was in devilish language. 

They waited for a deteriorating conditioned matatu that was owned by a cunning and sycophantic man named Mwaura. In that matatu, there were a number of people with distinctive backgrounds. They began sharing their stories about why they are going to Ilmorog. 

People on Matatu 

There is a man with the name Muturi, who lost his employment and went on strike against the decision. He demands a decent wage from his last boss. That last boss was the same one who dismissed Jacinta as well. 

A woman named Wangari is also present in the matatu, who was a part of the independence fight of Kenya while the Mau Mau movement. She was under arrest in Nirobi on wandering charges when she was looking for work there. Wangari is going to Ilmorog so that she could unveil the real culprits to the law enforcement and prove herself innocent. 

On the bus, another passenger named Mwireri wa Mukiraai is present who is an introvert and rich businessman. Whenever he chooses to talk, he talks about his belief in theft. Mukiraai states that theft is the reason for any country’s development. He says that if some country is lagging behind another country it is because it is unable to theft in unnoticed places. 

A university student, Gatuiria is also on the bus, going to Ilmorog to see the Devil’s feast. He is a student of local music and his purpose to go there is to hear all those folktales. 

On this ride to Ilmorog, there are in-depth discussions are going on between people. They talked about the powers of virtue and evil. The situation that occurred after colonial rule. where regional businessmen and foreign investment agents, flourished. 

However, Kenyans did hardship for their freedom and they are all inborn Kenyans, but they give away themselves in the hands of foreign powers. All of these conditions are more threatening than colonialism for any country because in this case, they are unable to locate imperialism. 

Everyone on board is looking forward to seeing all thieves and agents who are responsible for enabling capitalism, which came into existence due to postcolonialism. Thus, all of these passengers have their own motifs behind going to the Devil’s Feast. 

The businessman Mukiraai points out that this Feast is not by any devil, but by the group of thieves. He tells that the card details were changed by some ideological student of the college. 

At the Feast 

When all passengers of matatu reach the Feast, they get to know the hideous, brutal, and corrupt ideas of businessmen there. All the industrialists share with the crowd that how they made use of people and gained all the fortune. The sole reason for sharing this information with other thieves was not that they want to share experiences rather they aim to impress all those outlanders as well who will get the crown of the best conman.

They suggest all the inhumane ways such as trading air in name of drinking bottles or trading human organs to elites so that they could increase their life span. When Mukiraai came to the stage, he presents that all the criminals and stealers must force out the foreigners from Ilmorog so that local businessmen could take the profit shares. A riot erupts after this proposal and the announcer along with other participants rejects this idea. 

After hearing such obnoxious plans, Muturi and Wangari led the protest of peasants. They called the police to attend to these thieves and robbers present in the Feast. Whereas, Wariinga and Gatuira decided to watch the whole show as viewers. They went out for lunch and shared their life details. Wariinga told him about that rich man who made her his sugar girl. It was because that old rich man from Ngorika, Wariinga commits suicide many times, but she had to live, fortunately for some reason. 

When Wariinga and Gatuiria came back to the caves, Mwaura informed them that it was Muturi who was saving Wariinga’s life every time. Meanwhile, another participant comes to the stage and starts talking. Wariinga stepped out from there and fell asleep by the tree. When she was sleeping, the Devil visits her and unfolded all the reality of colonial and imperialism. He told her that capitalism is acting hand in hand with these two rules in order to exploit people. The Devil asked Wariinga to become part of his evil plans, but she rejected him. When she woke up, she saw that Gatuiria is watching her. He tells her that Wangari is in the custody of the police who works on the payroll of wealthy people. Instead of arresting them, police arrested Wangari. 

After some time, Muturi came to the scene along with students, labours, and workers. All of them made this Feast stop and kicked off all the wealthy devils. These people faced police brutality to stop them instead of catching the thieves. 

After two years 

Two years pass by and they are all set to marry. Wariinga worked hard and spent money to become a Mechanical Engineer. She learned all the self-defense and followed Marxism ideals. She also carried a pistol with her that Muturi gives her in the cave. On the other hand, Gatuiria completes his music studies and composes music on the history of Kenya. He has to present this composition in front of his father in Nakuru with Wariinga, her girlfriend. Wariinga leaves Nairobi so that she could meet Gatuiria’s parents. She is also very much low because her job place, a garage will be demolished by her old boss who will be constructing a traveler inn there. 

The couple met with the girl’s parents first where Wariinga’s mother blessed them both. After that, they went to meet Gatuiria’s parents.

Here, she found that they are one of the business tycoons whom she hates from the Feast. Many of the businessmen were present at her boyfriend’s home from the Feast. When she met Gatuiria’s father, she found that it is the same rich man who left her pregnant and ran away when she was a young girl. She tried to avoid her and keep hold of her, but that old rich man continued to frighten her and tried to take advantage of her. Wariinga killed the rich old man and some other names from the Feast, as well. In her explanation, she says that killing these people was important so that their evil plans will not become success. She did not want them to ruin the lives of more Kenyan people. 

At the end of the literary summary of Devil on the Cross, Gatuiria is standing there bewildered about which side to choose. Wariinga walks out of the house and did not look back. 




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