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Voicing Oppression: A Rhetorical Reading of Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Devil on the Cross
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Education, Department of Languages.
2010 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 15 credits / 22,5 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]


This essay focuses on how taking a rhetorical approach to Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Devil on the Cross facilitates both the understanding of its theme of oppression and its stylistic peculiarities. Content and form are intricately linked and in order to wholly understand the text, attention must be drawn to how it is written, why it was written and the effect of this composition. Lloyd Bitzer’s concept of the rhetorical situation is used as a framework for my discussion to further highlight the impact of rhetoric on the text and the fact that it is equally important that Devil on the Cross is read as a rhetorical as much as literary text. The rhetorical situation of the novel is the neo-colonial situation in the Kenyan society and the oppression of the marginalised masses at the hands of foreign multinational conglomerates and the Kenyan bourgeoisie. This paper shows that both the theme of oppression as well as the stylistical peculiarities in the novel is best understood in the light of a rhetorical reading. When examining the theme, one can detect how the situation of the poor is outlined according to a rhetorical model to invoke change and that the novel is directed both to listeners and readers. Stylistic features such as repetition, the creation of characters as types, and the use of the burlesque all make sense since the text operates on a level where memory support is crucial in order for a listener to collect the information given. At the same time, the text is directed towards a reading audience familiar with Western literary techniques. This paper further points to that in order to grasp the novel, emphasis must be placed on the importance of there being multiple audiences and that the best way to reach this comprehension and insight is through a rhetorical reading.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. , 31 p.
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-8113Local ID: ENG D-16OAI: diva2:436615
Subject / course
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2011-09-01 Created: 2011-08-24 Last updated: 2011-10-24Bibliographically approved

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Elma, Sandra
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