The adverse effects of capitalism in ‘Petals of Blood”

How has the writer depicted the adverse effects of capitalism in ‘Petals of Blood”?

Capitalism is often considered an economic system in which private actors own and control property according to their interests, and demand and supply freely determine prices in the market in a way that serves the best interests of society. Capitalism leads to inequalities in income. In capitalism, firms can get a monopoly over workers and consumers. One of the most remarkable Kenyan writers Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (1938- present), has displayed the adverse effects of capitalism in his famous novel ‘Petals of Blood” (1977) very sharply. We can notice the situation by observing the traits of the characters. 

For suggestions: Click here

In Petals of Blood, Ngugi shows the neo-colonial exploitation against the backdrop of post-independent Kenya. The Kenyan people shed their blood with the hope that they would equally share the fruit of “Uhuru or independence. But immediately after independence, the native elite betrayed the people’s hope and involved themselves in corruption and bribery. They amass huge wealth while the fate of the common people deteriorates. People find their traditional life shattered by the so-called modernity initiated by capitalists. They also lose their land and property. Thus the whole scenario changes after the independence of Kenya only because of the irresponsibility of the new rulers, who ally themselves with neo-colonial capitalists and multinational companies. The vision of the freedom fighters who see Kenya as a paradise is completely broken. Kenyan people still remain vulnerable to exploitation and violence. By using the phrase “Petals of Blood,” Ngugi expresses his anger at the new colonial condition of the country.

Wanja, the prostitute, despite the wrongs she may have committed, embodies not only physical but spiritual beauty and warmth. But as yet another female character who is irresistible in body and spirit, she seems merely a type, the woman as muse, healer, giver, and soother of men’s souls. That she is ultimately resigned to the fate of women, or even affirms it is such as thing, also disappoints. Wanja sees prostitution as labor, labor performed by women using their bodies who have no claims to work in the fields or the factories – thereby linking her private struggle to the public one. Her prostitution is revealed to be the way of life everyone leads, especially the exploitative men and the critical public at whose hands she suffers judgment and degradation. Co-option by the capitalist system for Thiong’o is prostitution. And it is necessary, even if one is to live, in the fundamental materialist sense of the word.

In the novel, foreign and domestic capitalists attempt to plunge Kenya into the world of capitalism. Through this, the poor of Kenya become poorer, and the rich—and those who are willing to crush those around and beneath them—become richer. As the novel progresses, the village of Ilmorog transforms into a “modernized” town in which transnational corporations and domestic business owners enjoy an elite life. At the same time, the rest suffer from cruel economic practices.

To conclude, it is clear that the transformation of beautiful Wanja to a prostitute, the hostile environment of independent Kenya, and the malicious attempt of the capitalists towards the Kenyan people are the adverse situations of capitalism as they all do their activities to earn money which is the practice of capitalism.

To read more: Click here

Mottaleb Hossain
Mottaleb Hossain

This is Motaleb Hossain, working on studying, a researcher on English literature and Theology.

Articles: 25

Leave a Reply

error: Sorry !!