Study Guide

Petals of Blood

by Ngugi wa Thiong'o

Petals of Blood Summary

Summary (Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Petals of Blood is a novel of social and political criticism cast in the form of a crime story. Three directors of the local brewery in Ilmorog have died as a result of a fire. Arson is suspected, and the novel opens with the arrest of the four principal characters: Munira, the protagonist, headmaster of the school in Ilmorog; Karega, a teacher at the school; Abdulla, the owner of a local shop and bar; and Wanja, a young woman who works in Abdulla’s shop and who later becomes a prostitute.

The story then unfolds through a series of time shifts, moving from the present to the past. It was twelve years before the time of the fatal fire that Munira first made his way to the village of Ilmorog. He had come because he wanted to establish a school that would provide the village children with a good Christian education. At that time, Ilmorog was a dusty, sleepy, wasteland of a village, and since others had come before him and left, everyone in Ilmorog believed that Munira too “would go away with the wind.” Munira, however, is made of sterner stuff. He stays and enlists the support of others, including Abdulla, Karega, and the very attractive Wanja; a considerable part of the novel is devoted to revealing the manner in which the lives of these four people become entangled.

Inspector Godfrey, a strong believer in the police force as “the maker of modern Kenya,” is in charge of investigating the death of the three directors. Godfrey is a relentless interrogator of Munira and his friends, and through his investigation the reader learns about the four principal characters and their involvement with one another.

Ngugi also reveals the physical and spiritual changes that have transformed the village of Ilmorog from a “small cluster of mud huts” to a bustling new town “of stone, iron, concrete and glass and neon lights.” This transformation has brought with it much of the materialistic baggage associated with Western progress, and with this “progress” has also come...

(The entire section is 825 words.)

Petals of Blood Summary

Part 1 Summary

Petals of Blood opens with each of the four protagonists, Munira, Abdullah, Wanja, and Karega, being taken to the New Ilmorog Police...

(The entire section is 633 words.)

Part 2 Summary

Part Two: Toward Bethlehem
During the trek to Nairobi, Abdullah emerges as a brave warrior who has fought valiantly to win...

(The entire section is 340 words.)

Part 3 Summary

Part Three: To Be Born
Despite the failed mission to the city, the village enjoys some sense of renewal in the third part of the...

(The entire section is 315 words.)

Part 4 Summary

Part Four: Again ... La Luta Continua!
The final part of the novel sees the transformation of old, rural Ilmorog to a sprawling...

(The entire section is 586 words.)