Tuesday, May 13, 2014

CHARACTERISATION OF OKONKWO AND UNOKA BY GROUP 3 OF MONDAY CLASS

Okonkwo is a round character in the novel ‘Things Fall Apart’. His character has several dimensions considering all the various aspects and this makes his character quite complex in the story. Unoka, his father is a flat character and a minor one as such. He is a starting character of his story and his negative traits become the major driving force of Okonkwo’s directly opposite character traits since he refuses to become anything close to his miserable father. Okonkwo’s life is dictated by the fear of failure and much of his behaviour is as a result of his desire to be unlike his miserable father.                                                          Okonkwo, the main character of “Things Fall Apart” is a man of bravery and valour. In the beginning part of the text, he throws Amalinze the ‘Cat’ in a wrestling competition and this makes him very famous across the nine villages for his strength. He fights in many wars of Umuofia and he is even the first to bring home the head of his enemy. In the text, he obtains two titles and shows incredible prowess in two intertribal wars, adding up to his fame during the time. Physical traits of Okonkwo like his height and huge size are useful descriptions that reiterate his incredible valour and makes it more realistic to the audience. Okonkwo is always seen walking upon the foremost part of his feet, leaving his heels just above the ground and this stance gives the impression that he is always ready for a fight. Okonkwo is also described as “a man of action and a man of war” in the text and all these recurring facts about his war achievements makes his bravery an outstanding aspect of his character.                                                                                                                            Okonkwo is also very strict and temperamental. He believes in his principles and he never compromises his rules for anything. In the text, Okonkwo gets angry with his second wife and punishes her when she chooses to fix her hair instead of preparing food for him and his children, in spite of the fact that it was the Week of Peace. He never forgives his children for their wrong doings and rules his household with a heavy hand. Okonkwo is described as a stammerer in the text and this physical trait also buttresses his temperamental nature since he had to respond to people’s deviations with his fists due to his difficulty in doing so with words. Okonkwo’s bushy eyebrows and wide nose also gives him a severe look which makes his strict nature more realistic to the reader.                                                                        Furthermore, Okonkwo is described as a hardworking man in the text. In the text, we realise that Okonkwo is highly committed to his daily farm work. He works from dawn to dusk and hardly shows any sign of tiredness. He also involves his entire family in his strenuous work. He actually believes in hard work because he does not want to become a failure just like his father and this fear of failure and weakness makes him despise laziness and relaxation since he regards such an attitude as feminine. Even though Okonkwo never inherits anything from his father, he works hard to rise to the level of a wealthy man and this is due to his hard work. Okonkwo is a wealthy man in the village considering his three wives, eight children and barns of yam and all these is due to his hard work.                                           Pride is also a major trait in the character of Okonkwo; in fact, the flaw in his character that leads to his downfall. Okonkwo is inflexible in the sense that he never accepts new trends due to his personal pride. Okonkwo’s personal pride drives him to purposefully break the social laws by rashly killing a messenger from the British district office. His act of suicide is actually as a result of this especially since it is the first and only time he breaks the law on purpose and realizes that his clansmen are not willing to support him against the British colonists. The invasion of the whites and everything that came with it is something Okonkwo opposes and he stands by his decision till the end due to his pride, leading to his own death since he actually prefers to live and die on his own terms rather than to submit to the whites. Other traits of pride can be seen in the text when Okonkwo suppresses his emotions after killing Ikemefuna since he does not want to be thought of as a weak person and when he openly questions the right of unsuccessful men to speak in public since he considers them to be ‘women’.                                                                                                        Unoka is Okonkwo’s father and a directly opposite person to whom Okonkwo is. The text portrays him as tall and thin with a slight stoop. Unoka is a very lazy man who hates work on the farm despite his family nearly starving and his tall list of unpaid debts. He is also a coward considering his fear of blood and warfare. The only thing good about Unoka is his musical talent and his ability to play the flute very well. Unoka’s miserable situation makes him seem very shameful to the entire community and most especially his son Okonkwo who turns out to be the opposite of his father. Unoka was a man who only appreciates leisure, parties and music and he lacks responsibility and never gains any title during his life. Consequently, he died a miserable death after a horrible illness.                                           Okonkwo’s greatest fear is becoming a failure like his father and this contributes to his unending pride and emotional intolerance for other people, even his own family. His final act of suicide can be described as a demonstration of things actually falling apart since Okonkwo for the first time purposefully breaks the rules to continue living in his pride and the same old ways he is accustomed to. Okonkwo is a complex character and a tragic hero because a flaw in his character results in his downfall, death. For Okonkwo, submitting to the white man would be against everything he stood for; bravery, manliness and perseverance.





SETTING IN "COOKIES AT MIDNIGHT" (BY GROUP 3 OF WEDNESDAY CLASS)

Setting can be said to be the time and place of a literary work.” Cookies at midnight”, by Pearl Rowe has got a few elements in setting that we would like to discuss.
To begin, the place where the story took place is the house. This is because; places such as kitchen and attic were used in the story. This points to the fact that the major setting is the house. The house, being man-made, can also be said to be an object of human manufacture.
The story took place in a span of three days. It starts from Thursday midnight when Frieda starts behaving in an unusual manner, to Saturday when the letter is revealed to the family. The importance of midnight in the story is mainly to serve as a foreshadowing of an unhappy event. Midnight is also seen a mysterious. Therefore, the midnight foreshadows the woman’s death.
In summary, cookies at midnight happened in a span of three days with the major setting or place being the house.



CHARACTERS IN THINGS FALL APART BY CHINUA ACHEBE by (GROUP 3, WEDNESDAY CLASS)


A character can first be said to be an implied person, animal or quality that inhabits a story. In this novel, Chinua Achebe developed a list of characters which include Ikemefuna, Unoka, Okonkwo, Ezinma, Ekwefi, Chielo and a few others. In our discussion, we will be treating two characters (Okonkwo and Unoka) who play very significant roles in the story.
To begin, Okonkwo can be said to be the protagonist and antagonist of the story. This means he is one who looks bold on the outside but has a conflict within. He hails from Umuofia and he was well known throughout the nine villages that surrounded him and beyond. He is a hardworking and a very successful man. He holds a high-ranked position in the community, has three wives and nine children, and is well known for his skill as a wrestler and warrior. Okonkwo can be described as an emotional person who likes to look strong in the eyes of people around him. To prove his courage, at a young age he fought a man called Amalinze who was an undefeated champion in the game of wrestling and won. He is also described as “a man of action and a man of war” Okonkwo is also a violent and easily angered individual. He beat two his wives in the story over trivial matters and extended this anger to people outside his family.
A positive trait of Okonkwo is that he accepts punishments when he breaks the law.  Whenever he breaks them – either deliberately through a loss of temper or inadvertently as in shooting the boy – he never questions the punishments brought upon him. After shooting the boy, he was exiled for seven years from Umuofia in which he agreed. This was a way of maintaining his honor and reputation in the village. 
Okonkwo can also be described as an ambitious person who did want to live in the shadows of his father, Unoka. At a tender age, he was fending for himself and family. He took up the responsibility of his father. He was determined to make it in life. His wealth proves that he was ambitious. His final act of suicide is the ultimate demonstration of things falling apart. It was his pride which killed him as he felt he had the choice to live and die under his terms.
 In contrast to Okonkwo is Unoka. He is the father of Okonkwo. He was typically known for his art of music and lazy attitude. He does not like farming which happens to be the major source of income of the people in the village. This explains the fact that he was poor. He usually borrows money from people around him and did not pay. He was given a nickname “Agbala” which means a man without titles. His colleague musician, Okoye was quite wealthy. He had a barn of yam and three wives. Unoka could have followed his friend’s footsteps but due to his laziness he was where he was. It is for this reason that Okonkwo hated him.
In conclusion, we can say Okonkwo is a tragic hero. He died as a result of flaws in his character. These flaws may include pride, anger and dictatorship. His father, Unoka can also be said to be a flat character meaning he was not fully developed in the story and has few distinguishing qualities.



Friday, May 2, 2014

THEMES IN "IN THE CUTTING OF A DRINK" (by GROUP SEVEN OF WEDNESDAY 5:30-7:30 CLASS)

The theme of a literary text is said to be the insightful meaning a writer tries to put across in his work. That particular reason why a writer bothered to construct the text in the first place. That message, opinion or lesson he, in this case a she, tries to communicate to society. In the deciphering of ''In The Cutting Of A Drink'', the reader finds himself presented with a wide array of latent themes that arise as a result of the different perspectives from which it can be viewed.
    The writer through the narrator's manner and way of speaking described the narrator as a traditional Fante man, who in all certainty is prone towards the particular prejudice of our culture towards the deemed lesser sex- the female. Throughout the text cases arise where the writer is astonished at the equality women tend to enjoy in the city. Something,  he is not used to. Moreover, the situation comes that when he finds his sister he questions her about her work. Work that he sees as wrong in every sense. This is further shown during in the narrative, where he addresses only the men and reproaches the women as disturbing the free flow of the story. It becomes hard to say if Ama Ata Aidoo wanted to openly illustrate the male chauvinistic part of our culture then leave us to be judges of its merits. Is it  that she wrote the story from a feminist point of view but couldn't openly condemn our culture? That, we may have tolerance for our females who through life’s hardship didn't have the luxury of picking a more pleasant or morally right profession. It can't be easily understood.
          Another dominant theme is found in the way the writer uses the text to curb that forever growing notion that the city is the solution to all our problems. That everything is better in the urban settlement. She clearly shows it through the narrator’s description of how Duayaw's apartment is small like a box and that even Duayaw is even lucky to have a place to sleep at all. He shows that there is such hardship in the city that even as soon as he alighted his bag was stolen and more so the difficulty in getting a job. Ama Ata Aidoo clearly shows us how hard it is to survive in the city and that through all its glitter it comes with its own problems.
         Also, this text also shows us the contrast that is present between urban life and rural life. The narrator mostly expresses his unfamiliarity with how the people of the city go about their life. How urban dwellers dress like the white man, talk like the white man and dance like the white man.  How in the city cars are just passing this way and that way. How women cut drinks like men and have mouths that look like clotted blood.
      Clearly, Ama Ata Aidoo has given us a story of how a man tells his story of going to the city to look for his lost sister. His reaction when he finds her and the scorn he feels for the conditions in which he found her. This goes a long way to reveal our cultural beliefs and our current conditions as a people, both economically and morally.





METAPHORS IN THE TELL-TALE HEART (BY GROUP 9 OF MONDAY 3:30-5:30)

HEART”.
From Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, figurative expressions were used in the context to make the story agree with the theme of the story. The metaphor used is “One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture.”
The narrator of the story, who is a man defending himself because he is said to be mad; compared one of the old man’s eye to that of a vulture. The eye of the vulture is dull and threatening. A person looking into the eye of the vulture feels a cold creepy sensation. It is as if looking into the vulture’s eye spells doom. The narrator links one of the old man’s eyes to that of a vulture because he feels threatened by it and fearful anytime he gazes into it. The vulture itself is a repulsive creature that scavenges dead animals. It is therefore closely associated with incoming death. High in the trees, the vulture’s eye closely watches and waits for that precise moment to descend or strike. The narrator compares the old man’s eye to it, maybe, because he feels that the old man is waiting for an opportune time to strike. He therefore decides to act before the vulture’s eye spots him and the vulture descends.
The vulture’s eye helped the author to send his message across due to the perception associated with “vulture” – it is seen as an object of evil. The significance of Edgar’s metaphor allows the reader greater understanding of the characters. He did this by comparing one thing to another item that may be more familiar to the reader. For instance, he compared the man’s eye to that of a vulture. The vulture’s eye is familiar to the readers. This makes it clear to the readers what the old man looked like. Edgar used metaphor to help the reader relate with the story. It enhances their understanding of the story and the concept. Metaphor usually hits close to home. The reader is therefore able to form a clear picture of the story. In The Tell-Tale Heart, the narrator employs metaphors to demonstrate to the readers his sharpened senses. In the first paragraph and even throughout the story, the narrator makes the audience aware of how over-acute his senses were. He is therefore able to relate his story with metaphors.  
Another important metaphor Poe used is “he is stone dead”. There are times when people who are presumed dead rise up mysteriously. The occurrences have led to a depreciation of the significance of proclaiming a person to be dead. A stone is the quintessence of lifelessness. It clearly denotes an object which does not contain any traces of life. The narrator uses stone dead to emphasize the degree of certainty that he has that the old man is completely dead.
“Yes he was stone, stone dead.”

The narrator tells us that he has carefully examined the body and is convinced without a doubt that there is no life in the old man. He is in effect a stone.

LANGUAGE POLITICS IN AFRICAN LITERATURE (BY GROUP 4)

'What is African Literature?'
Was it literature about Africa or about the African experience? Was it literature written by Africans? What about a non-African who wrote about Africa: did his work qualify as African literature? What if an African set his work in Greenland: did that qualify as African literature? Or were African languages the criteria? These were the questions raised at the Conference of African Writers of English Expression held in Kampala, Uganda. The issue of politics of language in African literature has drawn various opposing views especially from two of the continent’s famous writers; Ngugi wa Thiong’O and Chinua Achebe.
Ngugi wa Thiong’O in his book “Decolonising the mind: The politics of language in African literature” (1986) states the need for African literature to be written in African languages. This he argues will help Africa to be really free of its old European masters. In his book, he talks about his boyhood where he was initially taught in his native language, Kikuyu, until the British forced the schools to teach in English. This he says was how the Europeans forced their languages on Africa to control it. He names the literature of African writers which have been written in English “Afro-European Literature”. As a result he decided that his book “Decolonising the mind: The politics of language in African literature” will be the last to be written in English.  
The latter, on the other hand, argues that it is not that quite simple. Chinua Achebe argues that the Europeans taught in the native languages of the African but it was the Africans who made the demand for the European languages. He gave several examples such the Kenya’s kikuyu language which the Europeans used to teach the people. It was the people themselves who set up English language schools. Therefore he argues that he writes in English not to white people but to the people of Africa, Nigerians specifically, because it is the only way to communicate his ideals to the people. This is because if he wrote in the native Igbo language, he would be reaching out to a particular group in Nigeria leaving the others since there is more than one major native language. Thus the need to write in English. He concludes by admitting that it is sometimes difficult to express certain African thoughts in English but then he has used that to shape the English instead of letting the white English shape him.
Analysing all these issues and the views of the two prominent and famous writers, we as a group are of the view that African literature should be written in English. This is because; African literature is not just for Africans but the entire world. Writing in the local parlance limits the number of audience the literary work is carried to which defeats the very purpose for which it is made, that is, education

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

PLOT (COOKIES AT MIDNIGHT) BY GROUP 1, WEDNESDAY CLASS

Cookies at midnight is a short story that shows how a woman to be precise a mother died after an operation. Cookies at midnight is a type of traditional or conventional or normal plot because the story has an introduction section, with the exposition, then moves to the rising action to the climax and then ends with resolution or denouement.
           First of all, the plot begins with the exposition. With the exposition, the main characters (i.e)the mother and child are introduced.
1. There’s information on the setting-It happened sometime back of the story.
2. Background Information.
*It tells us that something unexpected might happen. This is because her mother’s behavior was strange that night. She was different from all other nights.
*Her mother didn’t send her to bed early like all other nights.
*Her mother allowed her to take cookies at midnight.
              Secondly, there was a feel of rising action in the story. The rising action begins when the child start to ask series of questions and the mother gave strange and unusual answers.
             To continue with, there was also the presence of climax in the story. The climax started after all the parents had left and all six children started at the closed door. They were in some kind of trance where there were no kisses or goodbyes.
            Furthermore, the falling action or the decline of the story happened when she is assured her brother would explain everything to her. Her brother also told her of her mum’s operation. Also, when she was having a foreshadow (i.e) her dream indicating something terrible might happen. Finally, the death of the mother.

            To end with, the resolution or the denouement happened when there was the handling will by Mr. Moscowitz. Also, the writing of the will in red crayon. There is epiphany.