Updates from June, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • African-literature on Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart, Things Fall Apart Review, Things Fall Apart summary   

    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Book Review 

    Things fall apart is a tragic novel by Nigerian author – Chinua Achebe. The book was first published in 1958. The motivation of the author to write the book might have arisen from the changes that were taking place in his society at the time. Things Fall Apart is set in Pre-colonial Nigeria and reflects the struggle between colonialism and African traditions. It is also part of a novel sequel, with the other novels by Achebe being: No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A man of the People (1966) and Anthills of the Savannah (1987).

    The story line of the novel follows the life of Okonkwo, who is the main character in the novel. The authors’ main aim in writing the novel is to cut a clear picture of the inevitability of change in human life. The author further shows how the embrace or rejection of change can either lead to a positive or negative growth pattern in society. Okonkwo has a great desire to be regarded as a man in his society and masculine in all ways; he identifies himself only with attributes of strength and does not tolerate any form of weakness. Chinua Achebe begins his novel with part of a poem:

     Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

    TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    (W.B.Yeats)

     

     

    The poem communicates clearly on the inevitability of change. It sets out the stage for the events that follow in the entire novel.

    Things Fall Apart Analysis of Plot, themes, style and characters

    Plot: Chinua Achebe effectively uses plot in the communication of his message to the recipients. The novel is divided into three parts. Each part of the novel marks a significant turnover of events in the life of Okonkwo – the leading character in the novel. The author has used the life of Okonkwo in all dimensions, to bring to life the message he hopes to put across. The first part of the novel marks Okonkwos’ success and rise to fame. He achieves many titles in his community and succeeds in casting off his fathers’ tainted legacy; that of failure and shame.

    The second part of the novel marks a change in the life of Okonkwo. He kills a fellow Kinsman and is forced into exile-Mbanta (his motherland), as per the customs of his community (Umuofia). He is banished from his community for seven years. All that Okonkwo had worked hard to achieve was ‘falling-apart’. The image of his father; that of an indolent, poor man, and which he had almost succeeded in casting off, was slowly catching up with him. Once in his motherland, Okonkwo starts all over again in the process of rebuilding his life. This marks the second part of the novel. In the last part, he heads back to Umuofia, only to find major changes have taken place. There is the presence of the ‘white-man’, settling among the ‘Umuofians’. In a feat of resistance to change, Okonkwo kills a messenger from the authorities. At the end, Okonkwo ends up taking his own life other that accepting change. He submits to the same end which he had always fought against – that of shame and defeat.

    Themes: In terms of the themes explored by the author, a number of them can be identified. Apart from the inevitability of change, the author has also explored themes such as superstitions.

    Style: The speaker in the novel is all knowing and employs omniscient narration in the description of the events unfolding in the novel. Nothing is hidden from the eye of the narrator, which enables him to explore the characters and events going on in the novel effectively.

    Characters: There are a number of characters that are used by the author to relay his message in the novel. Okonkwo (major character), Unoka (Okonkwos’ father), Nwoye (Okonkwos’ son), Ezinma (Okonkwos’ daughter) and ikemefuna (Okonkwos’ adopted son). [Compare the Okonkwo character with Eugene in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus.]

    The author has succeeded in using all the tools at his disposal (plot, style,characters e.t.c) in his effort to develop themes and message in the novel. He has effectively made use of form and structure to clearly communicate the development of events in his novel.

     
  • African-literature on Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Purple Hibiscus, Purple Hibiscus Book Review, Purple Hibiscus Summary   

    Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Book Review 

    Purple Hibiscus is carefully crafted and presented through form and content relevant to the African context. The author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, made her debut as an author through the publication of this novel. Purple Hibiscus was published in 2003, which set the stage for publication of additional and captivating titles. Additional works by Chimamanda include Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), Americanah (2013).

    Purple Hibiscus Summary

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- Purple Hibiscus, african-literature.net

    Purple Hibiscus is Chimamanda’s debut novel.

    Purple Hibiscus narrates the story of Eugene and his family, where he is committed to raising the desirable model of a family. He opts for Christianity as the preferred religion for his family; though his wife, son and daughter are not given any room to choose their religious preferences. The novel begins with Papa’s violent eruption during family time, an event which is later explained toward the end of the novel. This gives the author a unique opportunity to portray the well-rounded picture of events unfolding in the story line. Eugene is married to Beatrice, and together they have a son (Chukwuka Achike) and a daughter (Kambili). The story is told through Kambili’s eyes, giving the reader a clear and unbiased view of all events, character’s perspectives and relationships in the novel. Eugene’s family environment is ‘closed’ from the rest of the world, as Kambili and Achike/Jaja have little to no room for social and emotional growth. The emotional and social suppression in the family takes a toll on the children, who experience feelings of displacement and isolation in school and the extended family context. The situation in Eugene’s family changes when the children get the opportunity to visit their Aunt, Ifeoma, in the University town of Nsuka. Aunty Ifeoma raises her children as a single parent and works hard to provide for Amaka and her siblings. The environment in Nsuka lasts for a short while due to their father’s domineering style of parenting. However, the short stay causes a shift in the way Kambili and Jaja view social relationships, and they notice the distortion in socialization that has led to their current position. Aunty Ifeoma, Father Amadi and Amaka make significant contribution to Kambili’s emotional and social transformation. Jaja revolts against his father’s authoritative rule, which partly helps him affirm his position as a young man and only son in the family. Eugene’s emotional abuse toward his wife culminates into physical abuse toward the wife and children. Eugene’s wife poisons him. He dies a short while after the poisoning. Jaja, his son, takes responsibility for the crime, where he opts for jail-term on behalf of his mother. Jail-term hardens Jaja, who is seemingly transformed by the time he leaves prison. The mother uses the family inheritance to bribe her way to frequently visiting her son, the last of which involves the announcement of Jaja’s release. Kambili has also experienced transformation into a young and confident woman. Aunty Ifeoma continues to write letters from abroad, following her departure a few years earlier. Since Eugene’s death and the incarceration of her son, Beatrice has continually grown physically weak. She rarely initiates or takes part in communication, but shows signs of renewed life and alertness after the announcement of Jaja’s pending release from prison. Chimamanda highlights the culmination of political tension in the country, as the successful staging of a coup results in the change of the country’s leadership. Beatrice and her children have the promise of being re-united as the novel comes to a close.

    Purple Hibiscus Book Review

    The novel clearly communicates Chimamanda’s thoughts to her audience. Perhaps the outstanding feature present throughout the novel is the author’s fascination with beauty and attention to detail in each event. Flowers such as the Purple hibiscus (which is also the book’s title) Indian Jasmine, and the periwinkle flower are mentioned in some parts of the novel. Chimamanda describes the flowers’ beauty in detail, and with it establishes the femininity of her story line. Eugene represents the seemingly immortal domineering father figure. However, his position cannot remain unchallenged for long. His fate is seemingly meant to match that of Okonkwo, in the novel “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. This is highly likely the case considering Chimamanda’s admiration of Achebe’s work on African culture and identity. Her opening line in the novel reads “Things started to fall apart…,” which is arguably a tribute to the mentor in African literary writing. In more ways than not, Eugene is an embodiment of Okonkwo, giving a timeless aspect to the social, economic and political issues that impact negatively on the African continent. The African contemporary space is vulnerable to retrogressive perspectives meted against Africans, which is clearly laid out in the novel. Chimamanda is skilled enough to satisfy the reader’s thirst for fiction, without detachment from the real issues that impact on the African social, economic and political environment. Eugene’s death, as captured towards the end of the novel, symbolically represents the death of oppression among the African people (in the person of Beatrice, Kambili and Jaja), which is further reinforced in the coup event in Nigeria. Aunty Ifeoma and her children represent the high price paid by those who choose to stand their ground against oppressive regimes and political influences. Politics is a significant force in the liberation of the African people. The themes addressed in the novel include;

    Religion; Chimamanda explores the double standards employed in some religious contexts. The basis of sincere and insincere religion is seemingly based on understanding religious obligations in context of the African culture. Father Amadi and Eugene offer highly contrasting examples of individuals involved in religious matters. The author makes an analysis of religion as a useful tool for socialization, which is also potentially manipulated for execution of selfish ambitions. Eugene’s cover-up with religion did not keep him from downfall, while Father Amadi’s practice of religion proved fruitful, offering Kambili the opportunity for healing and emotional growth as a young lady.

    Feminism; the author explores Beatrice’s ever-dominant but silent voice that holds the family together. Eugene’s actions work toward destruction of the family (such as severe beating of Kambili), while Beatrice is seemingly committed to collecting the pieces. Aunty Ifeoma is also featured as the anchor of her family, where she manages to raise it without the father’s help. Chimamanda’s occasional feature of beauty through flowers seemingly holds the peace in the midst of emotional suffering and emptiness in Eugene’s compound.

    The characters in Purple Hibiscus come to life through their interactions and relationships with fellow characters. Major and minor characters in the novel help in the development of the story line and presentation of the themes. Consider main characters such as Eugene and Kambili, and minor characters such as Amaka, Obiora and Chima. Each of the characters is an importance participant in the successful development of the plot.

    Chimamanda has positioned herself as one of the influential contemporary African writers. Her focus on the fictitious domain has given her the freedom of exploring and developing her creativity in the course of writing, while giving her the room for portrayal of African culture. Purple Hibiscus is a successful literary piece of writing, where the author makes significant contribution to the reclamation of African identity and culture. Themes relevant to the African context are clearly explored. The novel has set the stage for the author’s additional writing and engagement of the African literary audience.

     
  • African-literature on Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ifemelu, Obienze   

    Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, book review 

    Summary and Review

    Americanah Novel Book CoverAmericanah is a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, published in 2013. The critically acclaimed novel addresses the racial and cultural conflict between Africans and the rest of the world. Americanah is part of a ‘themed book series’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in her exploration of African cultural identity in the face of modernity and westernization. In a single twist of her literary creativity, the author focuses on themes such as feminism, cultural identity, westernization and love.

    Plot

    Ifemelu and obienze are the main characters in the novel. The story line follows their quest for survival away from home, as they flee their war-torn home country. The Nigerian civil war resulted in the death of scores of citizens and resulted in the displacement of scores of families from their original homelands. among the displaced are Obienze and Ifemelu. Ifemelu is educated and confident young African lady. She heads to America, fleeing the intensity of the war in her home country Obienze is the son of a scholar, who heads to London after refusal for entry in the United States. The separation between Obienze and Ifemelu threatens to wear down their love for each other. However, they remain ‘silently in touch’ with their love.

    While in the United Kingdom, Obienze results to an undocumented civilian life. His options are seemingly limited, as he seeks accommodation at any place, other than his war-tone country. He proceeds to manage his life without raising suspicion from the authorities. Meanwhile, Ifemelu learns the ways of the American lifestyle. The new lifestyle is different in every way. She struggles to come to terms with the different aspects of the American culture and continues longing for home.

    Obienze and Ifemelu later on their return home, and continue to re-ignite their love for each other. Obienze has managed to accumulate wealth and Ifemelu has been shaped by her experiences abroad.

    Review

    Chumamanda Ngozi Adichie clearly articulates the African experience away from the continent. Obienze meets his own set of challenges in the United Kingdom, while Ifemelu makes considerable effort in getting acquainted with the American culture. The two youngster thrive in the face of challenges, and manage to head back home with better experiences apart from war. Ideally, they become influential cultural figures in their country, as it regains its strength from the effects of the civil war.

    The determination of the African is evident in the lives of Obienze and Ifemelu. Despite the numerous challenges they encounter, they strive for improvement of their personal lives. The longing and later return home validates their regard for cultural belonging and and authenticity. In a way, Chimamanda argues that, home is where the heart belongs. The experiences away from home are important for the cultural and intellectual development of the individual. However, the one’s separation from their cultural roots marks their point of detachment with their sense of humanity.

    The main characters in the novel include: Obienze and Ifemelu.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel