Devil on the Cross: Wariinga Character Analysis and Development Devil on the Cross by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o is a compelling and curious novel that examines both the physical and mental journey of a young woman, Wariinga. Along the way she encounters many people and challenges that shape her identity.
Eventually Wariinga develops into what Ngugi considers ideal Kenyan femininity to be. However, when the reader first encounters her in the novel, she is confused by the message of what it means to be beautiful by European standards. The gicaandi player describes Wariinga's mental distress over her image and says:
“Wariinga was convinced that her appearance was the root cause of all her problems. Whenever she looked at herself in the mirror
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Her uncle, desiring a favor from the Rich Old Man, set up the relationship between him and Wariinga for his own personal gain. It took the Rich Old Man months to weaken Wariinga's resolve to be a good Christian schoolgirl. But eventually, she gives into his allure of money, riding in a Mercedes-Benz, and taking trips to hotels; she lost her resolve and believed his lies that he would leave his wife for her (Ngugi 143-47). When she became pregnant, Wariinga had to face this difficult reality. Feeling much despair and in the midst of her abandoned, pregnant state, Wariinga attempted to throw herself before a train (Ngugi 152). The question that begins awakening Wariinga is the same question Ngugi is persistently, subtly posing from behind his pen, "But had she really chosen hell, or had the hell been forced on her?" (147). The men involved in Wariinga's life appropriated her sexuality and literally made it a commodity; her uncle essentially sold her to the Rich Old Man. Wariinga herself has not been taught by her culture that she has worth, or that her physical attributes are more than a commodity. The co-conspiracy between Wariinga's uncle and the Rich Old Man, bartering the flower of her youth and beauty for men's success and sexual satisfaction, is an example of cultural imprinting on the body-the process by which cultural norms, standards, or pressures express themselves in literature through the physical