CLASS: SENIOR SIX
TABLE OF CONTENTS
UNIT I: EUROPEAN LITERARY TRADITIONS
UNIT II: STRUCTURE IN MODERN PROSE
UNIT III: ELEGY AND EPITAPH
UNIT IV: LIMERICKS- RHYTHM AND RHYME
UNIT V: FREE VERSE
UNIT VI: THEATRE OF THE ABSURD
UNIT VII: RADIO AND TELEVISION DRAMA
UNIT VIII: PERFORMING DRAMA
UNIT II: STRUCTURE IN MODERN PROSE
II.0. REVIEW OF PROSE
Prose refers simply to any special written piece of work that is built on sentences, paragraphs and grammatical structure rather than a rhythmic structure as in traditional poetry, where the common unit of verse is based on meter or rhyme.
Prose as a term is used simply as a contrast to verse. It is what linguists call the “unmarked” form of language. Literary critics divide prose into fictional and non-fictional. Examples of prose include novels, novellas, short stories, essays, letters, editorials, articles and journals.
Characteristics of prose
- The prose is written in paragraphs
- It tells the story rather than describing an image or metaphor
- Generally, it has characters and a plot.
Based on its characteristics given above, prose can be broken into four categories, divided by purpose:
Narrative: It is a writing which tells a story (fiction or non-fiction); usually told in chronological order has characters; follows the basic plot-line/ development/chart/diagram which comprises exposition, rising action, climax, falling action.
Expository: This writing gives basic information; used often in speeches and essays and does not tell a story or argue.
Descriptive: It describes something in detail, again without telling a story or arguing a point. It is used most often in combination with another mode of writing, but alone is often found in scientific or medical reports.
Persuasive: This one tries to convince (persuade) someone to take a particular issue or point. It argues a point (or two sides of a question) or gives evidence in favour or against.
Modern prose exhibits natural flow of speech and grammatical structure in written form whereas traditional prose was in form of rhythmic structure as in poetry. The common unit of verse was based on meter and rhyme.
II.1. REVIEW OF PLOT DEVELOPMENT
Plot development is simply defined as the progression of events leading to a resolution. The events can provide obstacles and questions, making the going difficult for the protagonist and exciting for the reader to follow. In a narrative or creative writing of course, a plot is a sequence of events that makes up a story. A complete plot contains the following elements: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.
Exposition/introduction: It is the opening/beginning of a story where the characters and setting are revealed. Sometimes the main conflict of the story is also introduced.
Rising action: This is where the events in the story become complex. The conflict is revealed at this stage (events between introduction and climax).
Climax: It is the highest point of interest, tension and suspense. It is the turning point of the story where the readers question what will happen next.
Falling action: The falling action is everything that happens as a result of the climax. At this stage the events and conflicts/complications begin to resolve. Events show the results of how the characters begin to resolve the conflict.
Resolution/ denouement: The part of the plot that concludes the falling action by revealing or suggesting the outcome of the conflict. It is the end of the story.
Example: Plot development of the novella “Animal Farm” by George Orwell.
Exposition is considered as the beginning of the story which comprises the life of animals under Mr. Jones’s leadership.
Conflict is in setting The Commandments of Animalism.
Rising action is related to the Manor Farm, Old Major, gathers the animals for a meeting and inspires them to revolt.
Climax fits the good attitude of the animals beginning to read and write and have beliefs. They use the commandments to educate all the young. Food is plentiful, and the farm runs smoothly. However, when the pigs elevate themselves to positions of leadership, a struggle for power begins. Napoleon wins by having his dogs chase Snowball off the farm.
Falling action where as a supreme leader, Napoleon enacts changes to the governance of the farm, replacing meetings of all animals with a committee of pigs who will run the farm. Eventually, Napoleon’s supremacy has him paranoid that someone will try to overthrow him.
Resolution Napoleon begins to blame Snowball for incidents happening on the farm. Using Snowball as a scapegoat, Napoleon begins to kill the animals, accusing them of conspiring with his old rival (Snowball). The animals are overworked in a bad life of insufficient food and with the tyranny of Napoleon. The commandments are rewritten to better fit with the pigs’ behaviours which are taking on human qualities.
II.2. STRUCTURAL DEVICES
Structural devices include some techniques used in making prose more attractive and easier to follow. Structural devices that characterize modern prose are: Stream of consciousness, flashback, foreshadowing, motif, juxtaposition and narrator.
Stream of consciousness
Stream of consciousness is a narrative mood or method that attempts to show the innumerable thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind of characters. It is also called “inertial monologue” where the individual thoughts precede the character. This is associated to his actions, portrayed in the form of a monologue, addressed to the character itself. Therefore, it is different from the dramatic monologue or soliloquy, where the speaker addresses the audience or the third person
Flash back is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point in the story. It is an interruption of the normal flow of events by earlier occurrences.
It is often used to recount events that happened before in the story’s primary sequence of events to fill in crucial back story. It interrupts the normal chronological order of events in the story.
Flashback is used when:
- The narrator tells another character about past events
- The narrator has a dream about past events
- The narrator thinks back to past events, revealing the information only to the reader
- The narrator reads a letter that prompts back to an earlier time
Ex1: When I went out of the drawing room, the first thing that came into view in the open corridor was the picture of my brother. [I just got the point why my mother used to see that portrait hours after he was killed in WWII, and she left only when she saw any one of us coming to her.] I just heard steps, and when I looked back, there was nothing that I could see. It was just a feeling of the past.
Ex2: In the Holy Bible, in the Book of Matthew, we see a flashback has been used when Joseph, governor of Egypt, sees his brothers after several years. Joseph “remembered his dreams” about his brothers, and how they sold him into slavery in the past.
Foreshadowing is a literary device in which a writer gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story. It often appears at the beginning of a story and help the reader to develop expectation about the upcoming events.
Foreshadowing in fiction creates an atmosphere of suspense in a story which makes the readers be interested to know more. This literary device is generally used to build anticipation in the mind of readers about what might happen next.
Moreover, foreshadowing can make extraordinary and bizarre events appear credible as the events are predicted beforehand so that readers are mentally prepared for them. Generally, it is the use of clues or hints to suggest what will happen later in a literature, music and movies.
Ex: -The evening was still. Suddenly, a cool breeze started blowing and made a windy night. (Foreshadows thunderstorm)
- The most awful thing happened on a stormy evening. The battle between good and evil started. (Foreshadows danger)
-They thought there would not be more bodies; however, they could not believe the thought. (Foreshadows murder)
- An old man opens his drawer to find a magnifying glass, and sees a revolver. (Foreshadows warning)
-In the middle of the night, the father hears the backdoor opening. He rushes to check on his kids, but a masked intruder is blocking the way with a knife. (Foreshadows threat)
*Flash-forward: It is a sudden jump forward in time. It is also an insertion of a later event into the chronological structure of a novel, play, …
It is also a scene that takes the narrative forward in time from current point of the story in literature, film,…
It is the scene that interrupts the present action of plot to shift into the future.This one reveals events that will occur in the future.
The difference between flash-forward and foreshadowing is that foreshadowing uses clues or hints of the possible outcome in the future, without any interruption. Flash-forward, on the other hand, is an interjected/inserted scene in a narrative, which takes the narrative forward in time. The events presented in a flash-forward are bound/likely/obliged to happen in the story. Foreshadowing predicts the future events, but those events do not necessarily take place in the future.
Ex: In Stephen King’s novel “The Dead Zone”, the hero receives a special power of predicting the future after a car crash. Through physical contact, he sees the future of a person. After some time, he feels cursed with the gift.
A motif is a literary term that is an idea, object, or concept that repeats itself throughout a text. It gives clues to theme or reinforces ideas an author wants to emphasize.
It is also a recurring element in a story that has symbolic significance or the reason behind actions. It can be also a recurring or dominant idea in an artistic work.
Ex: – “Death” could be a motif in a literary work. An author would not necessarily have to use the word “death” to express the motif. He might write “funeral,” “grave,” “dead,” and so on. Furthermore, he could depict death-like images to add to the motif.
-In Romeo and Juliet, light and darkness are recurring motifs that underscore the love of Romeo and Juliet, s well as the hate of their families and their impending death.
Motif vs theme: – A theme is the underlying dominant idea in every written piece, while a motif is a repetition of certain patterns, ideas or images to reinforce the main theme.
- A theme is broader than a motif. For example, if love is the underlying theme of a book, motifs may be in the form of a good-looking hero.
-Motifs are used to highlight the theme of his story. If the writer takes revenge as his theme, he will highlight it by using related motifs, like crime being committed, someone being wronged, person going through agony, protagonist planning revenge – all pointer to the main theme of the writing.
Motif vs. Symbol: –Symbols are images, ideas, sounds that represent something else and help to understand an idea or a thing but on the other hand, motifs are images, ideas, sounds, or words that help to explain the central idea (theme) of the literary work.
–A symbol may appear once or twice, whereas a motif is a recurring element.
In literature, juxtaposition is a useful device for writers to describe their characters in great detail, to create suspense, and achieve a rhetorical effect. It is a human quality to comprehend one thing easily by comparing it to another.
It is an act of placing two elements close together or side by side in order to compare or contrast, by showing similarities or differences. Juxtaposition in this case is useful in the development of characters.
Ex: – In “Paradise Lost” by John Milton, a narrative poem, J. Milton had shown the bad qualities of Satan and the good qualities of God. There is a juxtaposition of two characters: God and Satan. The bad qualities of Satan and good qualities of God are placed side-by-side which make us to compare and contrast them, and the comparison made brings to the surface the contrast between the two characters. The juxtaposition in this poem make us conclude that Satan deserved his expulsion from the paradise because of his unwillingness to submit to God’s will.
-Juxtaposition in “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”
Its function is that writers employ this literary technique (juxtaposition) in order to surprise their readers and evoke their interest, by means of developing a comparison between two dissimilar things by placing them side by side. The comparison drawn adds vividness to a given image, controls the pacing of the poem or a narrative, and provides a logical connection between two vague concepts.
A narrator refers to one who narrates or tells a story or the person or the voice whose view-point is used in telling a story.
Objective narrator is a third-person narrator that describes characters from the outside only, never revealing their thoughts. The narrator is an observer,” a fly in the wall narrator,” as it is often called, is to describe character’s appearance, speech and actions in a way that enables us to infer their thoughts. He/she does not know more about the character than what they choose to show. He is also called “a dramatic character”. This narrator uses the pronouns such as “he, she, it or they”.
An omniscient narrator is a third-person narrator who knows what the character thinks and what is happening everywhere. He/she is not restricted by time or space. Omniscient narrator is like the super hero because he knows everything. He can jump from a character’s head to another’s, from a character to another, from scene to scene, from one place to another because he just knows it all. This narrator also uses the pronouns such as “he, she, it or they.”
A NOVELLA: THE PEARL by John Steinbeck
About the author
John Ernst Steinbeck was born on 27th February 1902 in Salinas, California. He was the third child of John Ernst Steinbeck and Olive Hamilton. His father manages a flour mill and later worked as a treasurer of Monterey County. His mother has been a school teacher and instilled in her son a love of books and stories.
He studied primary school and skipped the 5th grade due to his mother’s influence. This means that he was younger than all his classmates. He decided to become a writer when he was 14 and never abandoned his dream. While in high school he began writing short stories and reading them to others.
In 1919 he graduated from high school and entered Stanford University. Here, he avoided accepted courses, attending instead classes which would best help him to develop as a writer. Steinbeck never completed a degree but he enjoyed a short-story class and joined an English club where he met other writers on the University staff who encouraged him to continue his writing.
Steinbeck finally dropped out of college in 1925 and went to New York where he worked as a construction worker and later as a reporter for a newspaper called “The American”.
In January 1930 he married Carol Henning. He won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature and died of heart failure in December 20th, 1968 in New York and buried in Salinas, California.
His works include:
- Cup of Gold (1929) his first novel
- To a God Unknown (1933)
- The Pastures of Heaven (1932) twelve interconnected stories.
- The Red Pony (1933), stories
- Tortilla Flat (1935) novel
- In Dubious Battle (1936)
- Of Mice and Men (1937) novella.
- The Grapes of Wrath (1939) a novel that had been awarded Pulitzer Prize.
- The Moon is Down (1942) a tale.
- Cannery Row (1945)
- The Wayward Bus (1947)
- The Pearl (1947) a novella a poor Mexican who discovers a valuable pearl that brings bad luck to his family.
- East of Eden (1952)
- Le Morte d’ Arthur (1st book he loved, a project he never completed)
- Once There Was a War (1958) a documentary.
- The Winter of Our Discontent (1961) a semi-autobiographical account (his last major work of fiction)
- Travels with Charley is Search of America (1962) an account of his travel with his large poodle (Charley)
*His spouses: -Carol Henning (married in 1930 and divorced 1943)
-Gwyn Conger (married in 1943 and divorced in 1948)
-Elaine Scott (married in 1950)
*His children: -John Steinbeck IV (1946-1991)
-Thomas Steinbeck (1944-2016)
About the book
The Pearl is a novella by American author John Steinbeck, first published in 1947. It is a poor Mexican who discovered a valuable pearl that brings bad luck to his family. It explores man’s nature as well as defiance of societal norms and evil. Steinbeck’s inspiration was a Mexican folktale from La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, which he had heard in a visit to the formerly pearl-rich region in 1940.
The Pearl tells the story of Kino, a young pearl fisherman who lives in a native village on the outskirts of the town in La Paz on the shores of the Gulf of California. Kino has a wife (Juana) and a new-born baby (Coyotito), both of whom he adores. One day, Kino finds an immense pearl of superb quality. Immediately he sees a bright future for his family. As the news of Kino’s luck spreads, others try to benefit from it: a greedy doctor, pretending to save the life of the baby who has been bitten by a scorpion, tries to bargain for the pearl; thieves try to steal it at night; crooked dealers try to cheat him of its value. Even the beggars hope to benefit ‘for they knew that there is no alms-giver like a poor man who is suddenly lucky’. One Kino night kills a man who tries to rob him. Later Kino’s hut is burned down and in fear for their lives, Kino and his wife Juana decide to run away to another town in the north.
However, they are followed, and in a desperate attempt to save himself and his family, Kino kills the pursuers. In the struggle the baby is killed. Kino and Juana return to their village and throw the pearl back into the sea.
Chapter one starts with a long description about Kino’s village. It is an Indian village in Mexico. Kino wakes up and he and Juana eat breakfast. He sings some traditional songs about his family and this makes him happy. Then a scorpion crawls into Coyotito’s crib and stings him. Kino kills the scorpion and the villagers come to see is going on.
Juana tells Kino to bring the doctor, which surprises the neighbours as the doctor belongs to the Spanish Colonists of the village and can’t come to help those poor Indians. Juana realizes the doctor isn’t coming, so she takes Coyotito to his house for treatment, with her husband’s accompaniment.
Arriving there, Kino, Juana and the neighbours behind them; the doctor refuses to let them in. The doctor requests money and Kino gives him eight pearls which he denies by saying that he has been called for a serious case. Kino gets mad and punches the gate which makes his knuckles bleed.
The author starts by describing the beach and the gulf. Kino and Juana go to the beach. He has a canoe which is an heirloom that he uses to make his living. They then go out into the water to look for the pearls which would enable them to persuade the doctor to treat the poisoned Coyotito.
Kino dives into the water and finds the great/big pearl. When Juana looks at Coyotito’s wound; she finds that it has improved. With more emotions, Kino yells which makes other fishers to run towards him.
The chapter starts by describing the town as a colonial animal. Before Kino and Juana get home; words of their discovery travels quickly. Everyone, including beggars, businessmen, priest, doctor…need to benefit from that pearl. In the evening the neighbours gather to Kino’s house and when Juan Tomás (Kino’s brother) asks him what he will do with the wealth, he says that he will be married in the church, buy new clothes, a new harpoon, riffle, and educate their child Coyotito.
In that evening the priest comes to tell Kino to give thanks to God who has given that fortune. The doctor also comes to treat Coyotito in order to know where they have put that pearl. During the night, Kino struggles with an intruder who needs to steal the pearl, and they stab each other with knives and then the intruder flees. Juana realizes that the pearl is evil and will destroy them, so she suggests to throw it but Kino denies saying that they will sell it and that evil will be gone.
Words spread that Kino will be selling the great pearl and the pearl buyers prepare themselves to buy it. The pearl buyers abandon their works to attend that process. Kino and Juana dress well and go to sell the pearl. Juan Tomás accompanies his brother Kino while telling him the old system of pearl-selling, with the crowd of neighbours behind them. When they arrive to those buyers, they tell Kino that that pearl is worth nothing due to its huge size but offer him a low price.
Kino goes home feeling angry and announces that he will go to sell the pearl in the capital city. In the evening, he buries the pearl under his sleeping mat. During the night Kino senses evil and then goes out where someone assaults him and the struggle ensures. When Juana arrives at the fray, she finds that her husband is half-conscious. She also takes care of him and tells him to get rid of the pearl, but Kino insists that the following day, they will go to the capital city to sell it.
Late in the night, Juana gets the pearl and decides to throw it in the ocean. She sneaks out of the house and goes to the beach, and Kino follows her to stop her. He catches her and beats her for trying to get rid of the pearl. While walking towards home, Kino is attacked by men and fights against them, and then kills one of them. Kino and his wife plan to leave the village so that he is not arrested. While going to get ready the canoe and his wife grabbing their child, she finds that their house is on fire.
After finding that their canoe is also destroyed, they plan to hide in Juan’s house waiting to leave the next day. Juan Tomás lies the neighbours that perhaps the family has fled to South. He gathers some supplies to help them in the journey and tells them that the pearl is devil and they should have sold it but Kino decides to keep it. During the night, they exchange parting words with Juan Tomás & his wife Apolonia and head out into the night.
The family tries to escape towards the North by trying to cover their tracks on the ground so that they’re not followed. They then find a hiding place near the road where they eat breakfast. Kino tells Juana that they would not have been followed if the pearl is worth nothing. He stares at the pearl to read his future and sees bad things, and then lies to his wife.
Kino sleeps and wakes up due to something. He hears & and sees the men (trackers) pursuing them. He takes his knife ready but fortunately, those trackers miss them. Kino and his family decide to go to the mountains where they’re also followed. Kino advises his wife to flee to Loreto but she denies.
They climb the mountain and stop for water and then Kino does some stuff to mislead the trackers. They go to hide into the cave waiting for the trackers to pass past them so that they climb down, but unfortunately those trackers make a camp to the pool. Kino sees no option except attacking the men. Silently, Kino goes towards them while sleeping and then Coyotito lets out a cry which awakes one of the men who shoots in the cry’s direction.
Kino automatically attacks them and kills all of them. He goes back to the cave and finds that Coyotito’s head was shot. The family decides to go back to the village with their dead son. They walk down and pass through the streets of La Paz without looking at the people and walk strait towards the beach. Kino watches the pearl for the last time and then throw it back into the ocean.
Characters and characterization
Kino: The protagonist of the novella. Kino is a dignified, hardworking and a poor pearl diver who lives in a brush house with his wife Juana and their son Coyotito, both he loves very much. After discovering the pearl, he becomes an ambitious, greed person. All his actions are driven by greed which lead him to being violent and the death of their son.
Juana: Kino’s wife who is more reflective and more practical than Kino. She prays for divine aid when Coyotito gets stung by a scorpion. She is a loving, caring, hardworking, trustworthy, honest, obedient, secretive, and patient mother. She is also a loyal, respected, respectful woman.
Coyotito: The infant son of Kino and Juana, after he is stung by a scorpion, the doctor refuses to treat him because his parents have no money. Although Juana seemingly cures him with a seaweed poultice, he receives treatment from the doctor only after Kino finds the pearl.
When Kino and Juana are hunted by trackers after escaping La Paz, one of the trackers shoots Coyotito in the head as they hide in a cave.
Juan Tomás: The brother of Kino and the husband of Apolonia deeply loyal to his family, Juan Tomás supports Kino in all of his endeavours but warns him of the dangers involved in possessing such a valuable pearl. He is sympathetic to Kino and Juana. He hides Kino and Juana in his house after Kino murders a man in self-defence and telling no one of their whereabouts.
Apolonia: Juan Tomás’s fat wife and the mother of four children. Like her husband, Apolonia is sympathetic to Kino and Juana’s plight, and she agrees to give them shelter after Kino murders a man in self-defense and telling no one of their whereabouts.
The doctor: A small-time and complacent colonist who dreams of returning to Paris in a bourgeois European lifestyle. The doctor initially refuses to treat Coyotito but changes his mind after learning that Kino has found a great pearl. He represents the arrogance, condescension, and greed of a colonial society.
The priest: The local village priest seemingly represents moral virtue and goodness, but he is just as interested in exploiting Kino’s wealth as everyone else, hoping that he can find a way to persuade Kino to give him some of the money he will make from the pearl.
The dealers: The extremely well-organized and corrupt pearl dealers in La Paz systematically cheat and exploit the Indian pearl divers who sell them their goods. They try to cheat Kino out of his pearl.
The trackers: The group of violent and corrupt men that follow Kino and Juana when they leave the village, hoping to waylay Kino and steal his pearl.
The doctor’s servant: He is an example of someone who shares Kino’s race and ancestry but does not share Kino’s drive to resist the influence of European colonizers. When Kino tries to speak to him in the old language, he responds in the language of the doctor.
The Pearl, which takes place in La Paz, Mexico, begins with a description of the seemingly idyllic family life of Kino, his wife Juana and their young son, Coyotito. Kino watches as Coyotito sleeps, but sees a scorpion crawling down the rope that holds the hanging box where Coyotito lies. Kino attempts to catch the scorpion, but Coyotito bumps the rope and the scorpion falls on him. Although Kino kills the scorpion, it still stings Coyotito. Juana and Kino, accompanied by their neighbours, go to see the local doctor, who refuses to treat Coyotito because Kino cannot pay.
Kino and Juana leave the doctor and take Coyotito down near the sea, where Juana uses a seaweed poultice on Coyotito’s shoulder, which is now swollen. Kino dives for oysters from his canoe, attempting to find pearls. He finds a very large oyster which, when Kino opens it, yields an immense pearl, which Kino therefore calls “The Pearl of the World”. Kino puts back his head and howls, causing the other pearl divers to look up and race toward him.
The news that Kino has found an immense pearl travels fast through La Paz. The doctor who refused to treat Coyotito decides to visit Kino. Kino’s neighbours begin to feel bitter toward him for his good fortune, but neither Kino nor Juana realize this feeling that they have engendered. Juan Tomas, the brother of Kino, asks him what he will do with his money, and he envisions getting married to Juana in a church, buying new clothes, a new harpoon, riffle, and educating their child Coyotito.
The local priest visits and tells Kino to remember to give thanks and to pray for guidance. The doctor also visits, and although Coyotito seems to be healing, the doctor insists that Coyotito still faces danger and treats him. Kino tells the doctor that he will pay him once he sells his pearl, and the doctor attempts to discern where the pearl is located. That night, a thief attempts to break into Kino’s hut, but Kino drives him away. Juana tells Kino that the pearl will destroy them, but Kino insists that the pearl is their only chance and that the next day they will sell it.
Kino’s neighbours wonder what they would do if they had found the pearl, and suggest giving it as a present to the Pope, buying masses for the souls of his family, and distributing it among the poor of La Paz. Kino goes to sell his pearl, accompanied by his neighbours, but the pearl dealer only offers a thousand pesos when Kino believes that he deserves fifty thousand. Although other dealers inspect the pearl and give similar prices, Kino refuses their offer and decides to go to the capital to sell it there. That night, Kino is attacked by more thieves, and Juana once again reminds Kino that the pearl is evil. However, Kino vows that he will not be cheated, for he is a man.
Later that night, Juana attempts to take the pearl and throw it into the ocean, but Kino finds her and beats her for doing so. While outside, a group of men accost Kino and knock the pearl from his hand. Juana watches from a distance, and sees Kino approach her, limping with another man whose throat Kino has slit. Juana finds the pearl, and they decide that they must go away even if the murder was in self-defence. Kino finds that his canoe has been damaged and their house was torn up and the outside set afire. Kino and Juana stay with Juan Tomas and his wife, Apolonia, where they hide for the next day before setting out for the capital that night.
Kino and Juana travel that night, and rest during the day. When Kino believes that he is being followed, the two hide and Kino sees several bighorn sheep trackers who pass by him. Kino and Juana escape into the mountains, where Juana and Coyotito hide in the cave while Kino, taking his clothes off so that no one will see his white clothing. The trackers think that they hear something when they hear Coyotito crying, but decide that it is merely a coyote pup. After a tracker shoots in the direction of the cries, Kino attacks the three trackers, killing all three of them. Kino can hear nothing but the cry of death, for he soon realizes that Coyotito is dead from that first shot. Juana and Kino return to La Paz. Kino carries a rifle stolen from one of the trackers he has killed, while Juana carries the dead Coyotito. The two approach the gulf, and Kino, who now sees the image of Coyotito with his head blown off in the pearl, throws it into the ocean.
The Pearl as a novella takes place in a small village in La Paz, on the coast of Baja Peninsula specifically in Baja California Sur (Mexico). The time is unclear, but possibly late nineteenth or early twentieth century
Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.
Greed is the main evil force that the parable is meant to warn against. The doctor is greedy and only treats Coyotito after hearing of Kino’s pearl. The pearl dealers are greedy and want to trick Kino into selling his pearl for less than it’s worth. The town’s people are Kino’s neighbours in daylight, but turn into Kino’s attackers and enemies at night as they try to take the pearl away from him. Kino himself is greedy when he refuses to dispose of the pearl that brings him danger. It seems that the pearl and material wealth in general brings out the greed in the people who seek it.
Greed as a destructive force
As Kino seeks to gain wealth and status through the pearl, he transforms from a happy, contented father to a savage criminal. Kino’s desire to acquire wealth divert the pearl’s natural beauty and good luck, transforming it from a symbol of hope to a symbol of human destruction. Furthermore, Kino’s greed leads him to behave violently toward his wife; it also leads to his son’s death and ultimately to Kino’s detachment from his cultural tradition and his society. Kino’s people seem prepared for a similar destruction, as the materialism from capitalist colonisers implants a love of profit into the native people.
Throughout the novella, the plot discusses how the family lives before and after the pearl. Many of the decisions are based on what would be best for the family. For example, the first thing that Kino desires to do with the money from the pearl is to give his wife and Coyotito a better life. This money would pay for Coyotito’s education, better clothes and better protection. Later, Kino with his family in mind, declines to sell his pearl on a low price. He decides to search for a better deal. He always has his family in mind, whether it leads to warmth and happiness or destruction. It was the reason Kino got the pearl and, eventually, the reason why he threw it back into the ocean.
Good and evil
One of the biggest themes in this novel is the one between good and evil. This theme is displayed in other themes as well and it is shown from the beginning to the end. In the beginning Kino lives a life of simplicity and happiness but when he discovers the pearl, he believes that good will come from it. Unfortunately, a sense of evil accompanies it. After that, Kino and his family were in a constant battle against evil to preserve the good that they enjoyed before.
The theme of perseverance is demonstrated by many characters, but mainly Kino. Before he found the pearl, he was determined to provide for his family and protect them from any harm. After he finds it, he is determined to continue to do that but in a different way. Because Kino believes that this would save his family, he persists despite many obstacles that accompany the pearl. He perseveres to keep the pearl but, in the end, it was not worth keeping.
Dreams, hope and ambition
Ambition is a characteristic that is innate in human nature. However, in the novel ambition is a sin punishable by a higher power and is a reason behind Kino’s downfall. Kino desires and hopes to rise into superiority by giving his child a good education and having new clothes for him and his wife, all of those are innocent dreams of a poor man in a rich man’s world.
Kino’s dreams could not come true because they would upset the social hierarchy. Moreover, one should not aim above or below their inherent position in society.
The roles of fate and agency in shaping human life
The Pearl portrays two contrasting forces that shape human life and determine individual destiny. The novella depicts a world in which, for the most part, humans shape their own destinies by providing for themselves, following their own desires, and making their own plans. At the same time, forces beyond human control, such as chance, accident, and the gods, can sweep in at any moment and, for good or ill, completely change the course of an individual’s life.
If fate is best represented in the novella by the open sea where pearl divers plunge beneath the waves hoping for divine blessings, human agency is best represented by the village of La Paz, where myriad human desires, plans, and motives come together to form civilization.
Oppression and discrimination
Oppression and injustice toward the underprivileged, poorer class by the first class, rich citizen has caused injustice. The doctor considers Kino’s family as savage. He will not come to the settlement to treat Coyotito. He claims himself as a doctor and not a veterinarian.
The doctor’s servant also looks down on his own race. He is proud to work in a better situation.
The pearl buyers think that Kino is foolish and ignorant. They look down upon him and treat him as person who is not knowledgeable. The oppression and discrimination cause disunity and disharmony among the rich and poor community in the area.
The theme of paradox is displayed through Kino’s desires. Once Kino discovers the pearl, he begins to dream about what could come from this fortune, but as he tries to carry out this plan, the good wealth also brings destruction.
Kino and his neighbours live in brush houses, dress poorly and sleep on mat. The assessment of the beggars at the church places Kino and his people among the poor people who cannot afford the luxuries of life and a doctor. In fact, the doctor declines to look at their helpless infant even after offering the worthless pearls Kino.
Other themes include struggle and sacrifices, evil and violence, family love and loyalty, nature, class differences, wealth ….
- The danger of greed: This is primarily shown in the way that the pearl transforms Kino throughout the novella as he seeks to improve his own life through selling the pearl.
- Greed leads to ultimate destruction of a person’s life, but the human being has a free will to determine fate of their own actions.
- Don’t let greed, wealth or fame control you.
- The importance of family ties: From the starting to the ending of the novel, Juana and Kino stick together. Even in times of difficulties, such as when their house is burnt down, when they are hunted by the trackers and when their canoe is damaged and when their child is dead.
Point of view
The narrator uses third-person, omniscient narration, meaning he or she not only tells us what various characters think and feel but also provides analysis and commentary on the story.
The narrator narrates as if telling an old story he or she knows very well. The narrator frequently suggests/alludes to the story’s ending and freely describes the inner thoughts and feelings of various characters. Steinbeck chooses to narrate the story in the voice of a storyteller from Kino ’s society, in which stories are handed down from generation to generation.
Tone is the author’s attitude toward the story. In The Pearl, the author focusses on the evils of greed. The tone of the Pearl is cynical. This means that all characters’ actions are characterized by selfishness, greed and distrust others.
The narrator tells Kino’s story to teach a moral lesson, and so treats Kino above all as a cautionary figure. At the same time, the narrator seems to see Kino as a sort of tragic hero who is moved by the human weakness. He often shows a certain respect for Kino’s striving to realize his ambitions.
A conflict is the struggle between two opposing forces or between characters.
The types of conflicts include: man vs self, man vs man, man vs society, man vs nature and man vs supernatural.
The main conflict is the conflict between Kino and himself (man vs himself) which is the possession of the pearl and dreams of what it can afford him; and throwing it back into the ocean because it has actually brought him nothing more than trouble.
The other conflicts are external which include Coyotito vs scorpion, Kino vs the doctor, Kino vs pearl-buyers, Kino vs the trackers
Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colours used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
The pearl is a symbol which changes throughout the story. At the beginning, the pearl symbolizes wealth, hope and a better future, but as the novella progresses it symbolises evil, greed, corruption and death.
The scorpion is a form of foreshadowing as well as a symbol of the evil that is yet to come into Kino’s life. The scorpion sneaks into the family’s home in attempts to take away their most valuable possession, their son. This is a foreshadowing of the many town’s people who are filled with poisonous envy and evil as they sneak into Kino’s home to steal the pearl and poison his life.
A means of making a living—both pearls and food—that has been passed down for generations, the canoe that Kino uses represents his link to cultural tradition. This culture is deeply spiritual, so it is significant that Kino uses the canoe to find the pearl.
The rifle that Kino said that he would buy symbolizes protection. After selling the pearl he would be rich with enough money; and for that, he would protect his family and his wealth from the enemies and the robbers.
- Juana’s shawl symbolizes Juana’s femininity.
- It is a comparison of two unlike things by using the words “like” or “as”.
- “It was a morning like other mornings”p.19
- “In the canoe she was like a strong man” p.23
- “…as large as a sea gull’s egg.”
- A town is a thing like a colonial animal. P.41
- “This pearl is like a sin” p.59
- “ He hisses at her like a snake” p.83
- “Kino edged like a slow lizard down the smooth…” p.84
- “…Coyotito was reading from a book as large as a house, with letters as big as dogs”p.58
- “Then coldness came over him as quickly as the rage had…”p.59
It is a comparison of two unlike things without the use of “like” or “as”.
- “…the lighting square was the door…”
- “And the rhythm of the family song was the grinding stone where Juana worked…”
- “…pearls were accidents…”
- “…the finding of one was luck…”
- “…the beat was his pounding heart…”
- “…the melody of the song was the gray-green water…”
“The thing is evil.”
- “…loss of the pearl was punishment…”
- “…this pearl is evil.”
- “Her face was a dull pain…”
- “He was an animal now…” p.87
- “…light was danger to him.”
- “This pearl has become my soul…”
- “…the tree is evil luck.”
- “…Kino was a terrible machine…”
- “His strength, his movement and his speed were a machine.”
Personification means giving human characteristics or feelings to nonhuman creatures, inanimate objects or abstract ideas.
- “The world was awake now…”
- “…the song of the family cried plaintively.”
- “yellow sun threw their black shadows…”
- “…little water played…”
- “…town lay on a broad estuary, it’s old yellow plastered building hugging the beach.”
- “…the morning was young…”
- “…large oyster lying by itself, not covered with its clinging brothers.”
- “A town has a nervous system and a head and shoulders and feet.”
- “…the nerves of the town were pulsing and vibrating with the news…”
- “…the great pearl was alive in his hand.”
- “The little flames danced on the faces…”
- “…the words galloped and played on the book.”
- “The wind of the morning ruffled the water of the estuary and whispered through the mangroves.”
- “…(the Pearl) closed the door on hunger.”
- “…coin winked into sight…”
- “…crossed design danced in his head.”
- “…(the night) called to him and threatened him and challenged him.”
- “…the evil was hidden behind the brush fence..”
- “…the pale light of the moon that crept through the holes…”
- “…the pearl lay winking…
- “… a wounded boat does not heal…
- “…the wind cried through the brush houses…”
- “The wind screamed over the Gulf…”
- “The sky was brushed clean by the wind…”
- “The wind cried and whisked in the brush…”
- “The coyotes cried and laughed in the brush…”
- “…beware of the tree that bleeds.”
- “He let the sun play on it until it burns in his eyes.”
- “…naked granite mountains…”
- “…the algae called to it and beckoned to it.”
Hyperbole means “a deliberate exaggeration”
Kino has found the Pearl of the world.
In literature, a flashback is when an author moves the narrative to an earlier place in time to provide background information.
The novella begins with the narrator speaking directly to the audience. Steinbeck writes, ‘In the town they tell the story of the great pearl – how it was found and how it was lost again. They tell of Kino, the fisherman, and of his wife Juana, and of the baby Coyotito.’ This places the entire plot of the novella in the past, so that the events themselves could be considered as a large flashback.
Foreshadowing refers to the use of clues or hints to alert the reader about the events that will occur later; and it is used to build suspense.
Coyotito’s name which means “little coyote”, foreshadows the future event in which the child is mistaken for a coyote by trackers and shot at.
In chapter two, we have two foreshadows: Kino’s discovery of the pearl by talking about “the pearl that might be” and how the natives have long told this story.
Also, Juana prays that Kino will find the pearl, which he eventually does.
At the end of chapter 3, Juana claims that the pearl will destroy them and even their son. This has been true because their house is burnt down and their child is shot and dead.
Juana and Juan Tomás’s warnings to Kino that the pearl is dangerous.
Furthermore, songs are used to foreshadow events that are about to take place. Whenever something bad is about to happen, Kino hears the song of evil. He also hears the song of the pearl getting stronger right before he actually finds it.
Situational irony is when there is a difference between what is expected to happen and what actually happens.
When Kino finds the Pearl of the World, he expects that his life is going to improve tremendously. But what actually happens is that his life has been miserable.
Nature imagery is an important element of the novella.
There are descriptions of the morning, Kino’s house, their village and the city. The narrator has described the city, beach, the pearls under water, the nights, the forests, the mountains, the sky…
The work’s nature imagery reflects both the natural world’s idyllic innocence—the innocence Kino possesses at the beginning of the novella—and the natural world’s darker qualities of struggle and flight—the struggle and flight Kino experiences at the novella’s end.
Throughout the novel, whenever Kino has a particularly powerful feeling or instinct, he hears a song in his head that corresponds to that feeling. There is a song of the family, song of the pearl, song of evil…
These songs point to the oral nature of Kino’s cultural tradition. The ancient, familiar songs, presumably handed down from generation to generation, occupy such a central place in how Kino’s people perceive themselves that the songs actually give form to their inner feelings.
In the 16th, the Spanish landed in Mexico and proceeded to subjugate and enslave the native people of the area. When Steinbeck wrote The Pearl, their descendants were not enslaved, the Indians were still the underclass, while the descendants of the Spanish settlers were the richer, more powerful, and professional ruling class. Because of this Spanish intervention, Kino and his family practise both the Catholic religion, which the Spaniards brought, while at the same time holding on to their old beliefs of pagan gods. Because of these beliefs, their race and poverty, the Spanish consider the Indians inferior. Steinbeck wrote often about the poor, working-class people, showing how powerless they were against the rich.
The book analysis
Exposition: The story opens in the village where we have the family of Kino, Juana and their infant son Coyotito. Even though they are poor, they live happily in a simple life.
The initial conflict: It is the first situation where the protagonist struggles with a problem. In the Pearl, the initial conflict occurs when Coyotito gets stung.
Major conflict: After finding a great pearl, Kino seeks to sell it to acquire wealth which will improve his family’s welfare. When he tries to sell the pearl, Kino meets many obstacles.
Rising action: A scorpion stings Coyotito; Kino discovers a great pearl; Kino attempts to sell the pearl but fails, and he is mysteriously attacked; Kino beats Juana for attempting to discard the pearl.
Climax: Kino kills a man who attacks him for his pearl, their canoe is destroyed and their house is set on fire.
Falling action: Kino and Juana flee the village and find themselves chased by trackers. Kino fights with and kills the trackers, and then learns that Coyotito has been shot.
Resolution: Juana with their dead son, Kino with the tracker’s gun; return to their village and throw the pearl back into the sea.
Why is the story of The Pearl a parable?
A parable is a story that teaches a moral lesson.
This story teaches that greed is the root of all evil. The story begins with Kino as a caring, happy, protective, family man. Once Kino finds the pearl, things change. Kino becomes greedy when he doesn’t take the offer from the pearl buyer. There is stress for Kino and his family with violence even between Kino and family members. In the end, Kino learns a lesson and becomes more human and wiser.
A NOVEL: A MAN OF THE PEOPLE by Chinua Achebe
BIOGRAPHY OF THE AUTHOR
Chinua Achebe was born as Albert Chinualumogu Achebe on 16th November 1930. He was brought up in pioneer Christian family in large village of Ogidi, Eastern Nigeria. He received an early education in English, but grew up surrounded by a complex fusion of Igbo traditions and colonial legacy.
After finishing his secondary education, he joined University College (now the University of Ibadan), originally intending to study medicine, but eventually changing his major to English, History, and Theology. After graduating, he went to work for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service in Lagos and taught in at Universities of Nigeria and Massachusetts. He died on 21st March 2013 in Boston-Massachusetts-US.
Achebe is a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. He received different prizes. Things Fall Apart (1958) was his first novel, and remains his best and widely read book in Modern African literature. Other novels include: No Longer At Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987). Many of his novels dealt with the social and political problems facing his country, including the difficulties of the post-colonial legacy.
Achebe is widely published in almost all genres of literature: the novel, short story, poetry, literary essays and children’s literature.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The novel tells us the revolutionary activities of Odili Samalu who aimed to overthrow the existing corrupt and irresponsible governance of Chief Honourable M.A, Nanga.
THE BOOK SUMMARY
The story begins by Odili Samalu as the main character as well as the story teller, telling us that Chief Nanga is called “a man of the people”. Chief Nanga is going to visit Anata. Along with his village community, Odili prepares for the arrival of Cultural Minister M.A. Nanga. Chief Nanga visits at Anata Grammar School where Odili teaches at that time. Odili tells us that people are ignorant because they can’t believe you while telling them that Chief Nanga is a bad person.
Background on his rise to power is introduced. Upon his arrival, Nanga recognizes and remembers Odili as his former student, praises him for completing university and invites him to come and stay with him in the city; promising to speak to a member of his board in order to get an admission of studying in the UK.
Background on Odili and Elsie, the girl he has ever “met and slept with in the same day”. The two met in university. After Odili left the University, the two were heartbroken and maintained contact by exchanging letters. Elsie began working at a hospital. Odili explains that Nanga’s invitation is timed perfectly, as he can visit Elsie and have a private room in the Minister’s home.
Odili also meets his friend Andrew who studied abroad with the help of Chief Koko. Odili wants to study abroad but without anyone’s help. Odili tells us that Chief Nanga will try to find him out from his cabinet and Odili will get everything and stay to Chief Nanga’s guest room with everything complete. Chief Nanga also praises himself that he is going to be given a doctorate degree and be started called “Honourable Alhaji Doctor (LL. D) Mongo Sego, MP”.
Before traveling to the capital (Bori), Odili decides to travel to his home village, Urua. This journey aims to take back home, his house boy Peter and visit his father, a district interpreter, a powerful and hated man with five wives and 35 children. Odili’s mother died giving birth to him and there is shame associated with this. Finally, Odili arrives in Bori at minister’s residence, he is welcomed.
The same day with Mr. Nanga, they go to Hon. Simon Koko who handles education of abroad, but they don’t get a chance to discuss the scholarship as Simon Koko starts complaining that he was poisoned and was lamenting that he is dying. After the conversation ends, they leave and go home where he learns that Nanga is about to marry Edna and the leaders enrich themselves.
It is the next day after the arrival of Odili at Chief Nanga’s home. Odili seems to be tired of the journey. Mrs. Nanga gets ready to leave with the children to visit her village, which they do at least once a year. Then Mr. Nanga arrives for lunch and at the same time Hon. T. C. Kobino phones him and they start to discuss about road construction. Jean and John, an American couple, arrive at the Minister’s house. Jean flirts shamelessly with Nanga.
This chapter begins with Jean and John inviting Chief Nanga and Odili to the dinner. Mrs. Nanga has left home. Then John unfortunately, is told to be present at the opening of cement factory to Abaka. Despite this, Jean reminds them that the dinner will be as invitation directs. Soon enters a beautiful woman whom Chief Nanga introduces as Barrister Mrs. Akilo. And as soon as Mrs. Akilo left, Chief Nanga and Odili go to the International to attend the dinner. After the dinner party ends, then Jean takes Odili to Chief Nanga’s house.
This chapter begins with Odili’s visit to the hospital to inform Elsie that the other day he will go to meet her. The other day, in the morning, Odili takes Nanga’s Cadillac and visits again Elsie.
After finishing their conversation, they go to the book exhibition and while on the way Chief Nanga and Elsie say they do not know even the meaning of book exhibition. Mr. Nanga says that he does not have even the speech of that day and Odili asks to prepare for him and yet Chief Nanga refuses saying that the speech is not important. In his speech, Chief Nanga criticizes Mr. Jalio’s clothes. He also fails to know the names of newspaper writers despite being a minister of culture.
The narrator tells us that Chief Nanga was born a politician and he is the greatest orator. Being a great orator enables him to hide his evils and misconduct. After the exhibition, they drive back home. Odili sits near Elsie and they touch one another and after reaching Chief Nanga’s place, Odili and Chief Nanga drink some whisky. Later on, Elsie sleeps with Chief Nanga. This incidence makes Odili leave Chief Nanga’s house during the night and manages to go to his friend Maxwell Kulamo who welcomes him.
Odili plots revenge against Nanga. He joins the Common People’s Convention (CPC) which includes Maxwell, his fiancéé Eunice and other intellectuals. The party should be made of only professional men and therefore do not agree the party to be called as Common People’s Convention and refer back to the history of Carl Max and the greatest revolution which was not launched by common people, but intellectuals. Also, they do not agree the party to be understood as communist.
Odili goes back to Anata and we hear the story of Josiah, the shopkeeper who takes too much. Odili visits Mrs. Nanga and gets Edna’s location. The two discuss Chief Nanga and his new wife, Edna. Odili intends to meet her in order to warn her of Chief Nanga’s behaviour. Odili meets Edna’s greedy father-Odo. He says that Nanga has sent him to pay visit there and know about Edna’s mother condition. He understands why they have arranged for Edna to marry the Minister.
Odili finds himself stunned by Edna’s beauty and gives her a lift to the hospital but unfortunately, on the way they get an accident. Edna scrapes her knee and the food is spoilt and mixed with sand which leads Odili to take some money and buy some bread and corned beef near the hospital for the patient.
Odili return to Mrs. Nanga’s home where Edna is going to spend Christmas morning and helping Mrs. Nanga. While Edna serves Odili something to drink. Odili starts giving advice Edna about not marrying Nanga. Details of major corruption break out in the media concerning current government and Prime Minister resigns. The CPC has been launched and Odili should run against Nanga, which makes Mrs. Nanga sad. When Odili announces that he is going to contest Chief Nanga’s seat everybody laughed except Josiah.
Odili composes a letter to Edna telling her she should not marry Chief Nanga. After meeting Mrs. Nanga, Odili goes to the Anata Mission Hospital to see Edna but unfortunately Odili does not her there. He decides to go to Edna’s home although her father has forbidden him to set foot over the area. Odo tells Odili to go but Odili refuses and Odo decides to call the people for him to threaten. Odili says that he comes to persuade him and his family to cast their paper for him on voting day”. Then Odo decides to advice Odili and he tells him that his in law is like a bull and Odili’s challenge is like the challenge of a stick to a bull”. Finally, Odili decides to go and Edna rises to see Odili leaves the place.
Odili is in the way to home trying to think about his courage before Edna and when he reaches home, he comes across the letter from Edna. She has responded to Odili’s letter by thanking him for his advice and telling him that she has no choice. Meanwhile, Odili begins assembling his security team to protect him during the upcoming election.
Later, Chief Nanga approaches Odili and his father while the two are walking. Odili’s father reveals that he has been asking the Chief for forgiveness on Odili’s behalf. It is revealed that Chief Nanga has come to meet with Odili to bribe him to stay out of the election. Chief Nanga tells Odili that Max has accepted the bribe. However, Odili rejects Chief Nanga’s offer and vows to defeat the incumbent candidate.
The chapter begins as Odili discusses with his father on Chief Nanga’s denied offer. The next day was the arrival of Max and the whole campaign team of C.P.C party. Then, Odili’s father gave them chance to conduct their campaign in his home place regardless his position to P.O.P. The campaign was conducted fully with deliberately speeches from Max and Odili, then they take the journey with the whole campaign team.
In Anata, Odili decides to go to see Edna. When Odili approaches her, she angrily dismisses him. When the POP finds out that Odili’s father indirectly supported his son’s campaigning, they remove him from his position as the local chairman of P.O.P, nearly jail him and impose convenient overdue taxes against him. Odili’s home village loses their pipes for supporting him.
In the beginning, the Crier explains that everyone must vote for Chief Nanga in the upcoming election. Later, Odili decides to disguise himself and go to Chief Nanga’s inaugural campaign meeting. While being there, Josiah alerts Chief Nanga that Odili is among the crowd. In his process to escape, Odili is caught and tortured by chief Nanga and his stalwarts which leads to being sent in hospital for further treatments.
In hospital Odili is under arrest because he has a case of possessing weapons found in his car, where by the car was destroyed by Chief Nanga’s followers. Edna and Odili’s father have been to his bedside. Odili learns the loss of the form to sign for election and the death of Max in Abaga, where by, Eunice has revenge to her boyfriend death by shooting Chief Koko on his chest to death, then she is imprisoned.
At the chapter, Odili apologizes to Edna for his hurtful words, but discovers that his second letter was intercepted and never reached her. Astonished at his good fortune, Odili begins arranging to marry Edna. In addition, Odili vows to have Eunice released from jail and to dedicate a school to Max as a true “hero of the revolution.”
The book is narrated by Odili, a young teacher in an unnamed African country run by greedy and corrupt politicians. His own former teacher, referred to as both “Mr. Nanga” and “Chief Nanga,” is now an elected official and the Minister of Culture of the country. When Chief Nanga comes to visit his home village, he and Odili meet again, and Chief Nanga invites Odili to stay at his home in the capital city while the Chief makes arrangements to help Odili study abroad. Despite his dislike for Chief Nanga’s politics and his way of doing business, Odili is somewhat charmed by the man. He is also attracted to a young woman, Edna, who travels with Chief Nanga and is supposed to become the Chief’s second wife.
Odili accepts Chief Nanga’s invitation, and spends time with him in the capital city. Odili learns that Chief Nanga lives in luxury as a result of his corrupt practices and knows very little about culture, despite his position. Odili has had an affair with a young woman, Elsie, whom he brings to Chief Nanga’s home with the intention of spending the night with her. However, she sleeps with Chief Nanga instead. Chief Nanga doesn’t understand why this makes Odili angry. Odili decides he will take revenge on Chief Nanga by seducing Edna, the young woman the official plans to marry.
Odili becomes involved in a new political party that seeks to replace the current ruling party. As he becomes more and more opposed to Chief Nanga, Odili decides to run for office in an attempt to take Chief Nanga’s position. The members of the new party believe they will provide more effective, more honest government. However, Odili learns the people of his country are quite cynical. They expect politicians will take bribes and make themselves rich. In fact, many of the people Odili meets are primarily interested in getting a share of the money gathered by corrupt officials.
Odili struggles with a number of moral decisions as he wages his campaign, for example having to decide whether to take money as a payment for withdrawing from the election. He tries to show the people the present government is lying and stealing, but no one seems to care. In fact, Odili is threatened and bullied as he tries to run his campaign, and his father and his village are punished for his actions.
Odili realizes he is genuinely in love with Edna, and his desire for her is no longer just a result of his wish to get revenge on Chief Nanga. Edna, however, feels obligated to marry the Chief because he has given her family money and her father is pressuring her.
Odili decides to attend the event that launches Chief Nanga’s campaign, where Odili is recognized and beaten nearly to death. During the weeks of his recovery in the hospital, things change in Odili’s personal life and for the entire country. Although Chief Nanga’s party wins the election, the aftermath is unrest and chaos, and ultimately the military overthrows the government. Then the people of the country come forward and talk about how terrible the former government was, despite their support for the same elected officials when they were in power. Edna stands by Odili through his recovery, and eventually his family makes arrangements for Odili to marry her. Odili is sad to learn of the death of his friend Max, who was killed by a former government official. Max is pronounced as a hero and martyr, and a school is established in his memory.
The setting of the book is in an unnamed African country during post-independence in the 1960s. The author has used imaginary towns like Bori and villages like Urua, Anata and Abaga. But what was happening in those imaginative towns, cities and villages resemble the realities and life experiences in most of African societies especially in Nigeria where the author originated.
CHARACTERS AND CHARACTERIZATION
A character is a being involved in the work of art either living or non-living thing. The author used different types of characters.
- He is the teacher, narrator of the story and son of Hezekiah Samalu
- He was taught by Chief Nanga in standard three.
- His mother died during his birth
- He finds himself in conflict with Chief Nanga when Nanga sleeps with his girlfriend, Elsie.
- He is one among the members who formed a new political party (CPC).
- He contests against Chief Nanga during election and is totally against corruption as he rejects the money Chief Nanga wanted to give him.
- He plans to marry Edna as a reaction to Chief Nanga’s act of sleeping with Elsie. At the end he marries Edna.
- He is a minister of culture and an irresponsible leader
- He is selfish, clever cunning and a betrayer.
- He is corrupt politician as he tries to bribe Odili
- He is a womanizer, sex-maniac and misuses government money
- He was once a teacher and taught Odili in standard three.
- She is Odo’s daughter, born in poor family, forced to marry Nanga.
- She represents girls who lose their freedom and surrender themselves to men because of poverty.
- She nurses Odili after being beaten by Nanga’s thugs. At the end, she is married to Odili.
- He is Odili’s father and has five wives and thirty-five children.
- He is a former district interpreter of colonialists.
- He is ex-local chairman of P.O.P in Urua before being dismissed.
- He is superstitious as he has medical charms placed in his house.
- He is corrupt as he blames Odili for rejecting Chief Nanga’s bribe.
- He is lawyer, Odili’s friend&classmate. He is the boyfriend of Eunice
- He convinces Odili to join a new political party (CPC).
- He is a revolutionary young man who is against injustice, corruption and exploitation.
- He represents progressive intellectuals in independent African states.
- He was bribed by Chief Koko to surrender the constituency.
- He is killed under the order of Chief Koko. He is declared a hero and martyr after the revolution.
- She is Max’s fiancée and a lawyer
- She revenges her fiancé’s death by shooting Chief Koko
- She is one among the founder members of CPC
- She shoots Chief Koko as a revenge following Maxwell’s murder.
- She is a revolutionist and represents women who are able to bring changes.
- After killing Chief Koko, she is arrested and jailed but she is freed from jail after revolution
- She represents serious and hard-working women.
- She is a betrayer as she betrayed her fiancé Ralph and later betrayed Odili. She is educated and a nurse in Bori.
- She causes Chief Nanga and Odili to conflict with each other
- She represents women/girls who are not faithful in relationship.
Chief Simon Koko
- He is a Minister of Overseas Training, fat and cheerful man by appearance
- He is very brutal as he orders Maxwell to be killed and stops the arrest of the driver who causes the killing
- He is irresponsible and a corrupt person as he bribes Maxwell in order to surrender the constituency.
- He is shot by Eunice as a revenge.
- He is the ex-minister of finance who gets fired in the position after suggesting on how to solve the problem of coffee price. He is then called a traitor and other bad names.
- He represents people who suffer because of standing for the truth and professionalism.
- After his dismissal, both his house and car are destroyed
- She is Chief Nanga’s wife and a mother of seven children
- She represents the African women who were denied the right to education.
- Her parents married her to Chief Nanga.
- She has no say over her husband’s behaviour of being a womanizer.
- She is jealous of Edna whom her husband wants to marry.
- He is a trader at Anata
- He was considered as an exploiter and a superstitious by the villagers.
- He is forced to leave the village by the angry villagers after stealing Azoge’s stick.
- He is rejected by Odili to join C.P.C.
Others are Hon T.C Kobino (the Minister of Public Construction), Jean and John (Americans), Dogo (Nanga’ one eyed stalwart), Edmund, Boniface (Odili’s bodyguard), Mama, Odo (Edna’s father).
A theme refers to the main idea of the artist in the work of art. In the novel “A man of the people”, the main ideas of the author on his work are the following.
Revenge; this refers to condition of hurting or harming someone in return. In the book, Odili Samalu had a revenge to Chief Nanga by taking Edna from him. Chief Simon Koko did revenge by killing Maxwell Kulamo and Eunice shot Chief Koko as a revenge.
Corruption; this is the illegal use of public office or fund. In the novel, Chief Nanga is a corrupt leader since he misused his political position and tried to bribe Odili. The author portrayed Chief Koko too as a corrupt leader who bribed Maxwell Kulamo.
Betrayal, this simply refers to going against legal agreement. In the book, Chief Nanga betrayed his people by enriching himself. Elsie betrayed her boyfriend Ralph by sleeping with Odili, and later betrayed Odili by making love with Nanga. Chief Nanga also betrayed his wife by sleeping with other girls/women. Jean betrayed her husband by sleeping with Chief Nanga and Odili. Mrs. Akilo betrayed her husband by sleeping with Chief Nanga.
Ignorance: Ignorance means lack of knowledge, understanding or education. People in Anata are ignorant as they failed to realize how their leaders are corrupt. Hezekiah Samalu who is a local chairman of POP was not aware of what was going on in the party. Odo failed to realize the trick played by Chief Nanga. Josiah was also ignorant as he believed that Azoge’s walking stick would make his business successful.
Selfishness: It is the act of having or showing concern only for yourself and not for the needs of other people. In the novel, political leaders were portrayed as selfish persons since what they did was only for their own interests.
Irresponsibility; this refers to a condition in which someone is incapable of performing his or her duties. In the novel, the author portrayed Chief Nanga as an irresponsible leader as he failed to know the names of few writers in the country despite being a minister of culture.
Hypocrisy; this simply refers to the false appearance of someone, where he/she is pretending in his or her acts. In the novel, most political leaders like Chief Nanga pretend to be good to their people while they are not good.
Nepotism, this means the favouring of relatives or personal friends because of their relationship rather than their abilities. In the book, Chief Nanga was portrayed as a nepotistic character when he told Odili that can get a position in the civil service because who are there are from the same village.
Brutality; this refers to the state of being not fair to others, always in form of violence. Chief Nanga seemed to be brutal in the novel when he pushed Edna on the dais. Chief Koko was portrayed too as a brutal person when he led to Max’s death in Abaga.
Poverty: It is the state of being unable to get basic needs. In the novel, Azoge the blind beggar earns his living by begging. Edna’s family lived in a very poor life. Odili’s sister lives in a two rooms house with her two children, husband and sacks of maize and beans.
Embezzlement of public funds: It refers to the act of wasting or misusing public fund for your own interests. In the novel, Chief Nanga misused public funds by lending Odili the ministerial car, educating Edna, giving Agnes money in order to make love with her, buying buses, bribing Odili, hiring thugs and buying weapons.
Superstition, this refers to a belief not based on human reason or scientific knowledge, that future events may be influenced by one’s behaviour in some magical ways.
In the book Chief Nanga was superstitious as he believed that an animal can remove all evils. Also, Odili’s father had protective medicine in his house. Josiah was also superstitious as he believed that Azoge’s walking stick would make his business successful
Polygamy; this refers to the situation of having more wives at the same time. In the novel, Hezekiah Samalu had 5 wives and 35 children. He was portrayed as a polygamist.
Hostility; this refers to situation of being hostile among the two sides. In the novel, Odili’s father had many enemies since he became an interpreter. Further, hostility was between Odili and Chief Nanga; started as Chief Nanga seduced Elsie.
Moral decay/immorality: Being a corrupt leader proves the immorality of African leaders. Elsie, Mrs Akilo and Jean were immoral as we do not expect African ladies to be like that. Chief Nanga was immoral because as a leader who must be a role model in the society, was a womanizer. Odili’s bodyguards were immoral as they planned to burn Chief Nanga’s car.
Suffering: This refers to the condition of someone who is experiencing hardships. In the book, the people were suffering as the price of everything had doubled since independence. The teachers were poorly paid, and in the city, beggars slept under the caves of luxurious apartment stores.
Other themes include conflicts, exploitation, patriotism, protest, disillusionment, sacrifice, troubles facing post-colonial African society, culture etc.
MESSAGE OF THE BOOK
This refers to the lesson we get from any literary work. The following are the messages from the novel.
- Restriction of ignorance is a step towards development.
- Irresponsibility leads to unprogressive society.
- Corruption is a great obstacle towards development in our societies.
DICTION OF THE NOVEL
This refers to how an author employed and used the language (simple or complex), literary techniques and figure of speech.
*In the novel, an author used a simple and well understandable language. Standard English is used by educated people while Pidgin English is used in small extent to indicate the differences of characters in educational level. On the other hand, American dialect has also been used.
Symbolism; this refers to the use of persons and objects representing concept, idea or a thing.
- Chief Nanga symbolizes selfish persons and irresponsible leaders.
- Cadillac, gold chains: symbolize wealth
- Money: symbolizes wealth and influence
- Azoge, the blind beggar and other beggars symbolize poor people
- Maxwell’s death: represents the beginning of liberation
- The refusal of the villagers to buy things in Josiah’s shop symbolizes unity.
Repetition; this refers to the repeating of the same word or phrase frequently for more emphasis.
Ex: “…sir, sir, sir…”, “…hear! Hear!” “…no, no, no, I said…”
Hyperbole: It is an exaggeration to express strong emotions or create a comic effect.
Ex: The crowd raised a deafening shout of welcome.
It is a mammoth crowd.
Simile: It is the comparison between two unlike things by using connective words such as like, as …as, resembles, as if.
“…he looked as bright as new shilling…”
He shouted at me like a mad dog.
Metaphors: It is a comparison between two unlike things without using connective words such as like, resembles, as, as…as.
He has become an earthworm.
The coming election would be a life and death fight.
Ellipses; this refers to the omission of grammatical words in a sentence or phrase.
Ex: “…you didn’t tell me, Mr.…er…”
“…a brilliant song called…erm…what is it called again?”
Personification; this refers to a figure of speech in which an animal or inanimate object is given human qualities.
Ex: “…if alligator comes out of the water one morning and tells you that, crocodile is sick …”
“…what one dog says to another…”
Imagery: It is the use of words to bring a picture of a certain events that take place in the novel.
The artistic descriptions of Chief Nanga’s house and his ministerial car.
Description of Odo’s house made of a red earth and thatched roof.
Also, the artistic description of Josiah’s evil/action towards Azoge by an old woman.
Irony: It is the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really think especially in order to create a humorous effect.
Ex: –The meaning of the title is opposite that is Chief Nanga is not a man of the people but an enemy.
When Nanga says: “teaching is a very noble profession”, he meant otherwise.
“I can swear to God that I am not as happy as when I was a teacher”.
Rhetorical questions: these are questions in which an asker does not expect an answer.
Ex:” …why should you? Do I know book? Am I not of the Old Testament?”
Vulgarism: this refers to the use of the word or term that is considered offensive or distasteful.
Ex: Jean says “…sex means much more to a woman than to a man, it takes place inside her.
The man uses a mere projection of himself…”
Satire: It is the way of using humour to show that someone or something is foolish, weak or bad.
When Chief Nanga admits that he does not know the meaning of book exhibition.
When Chief Nanga tells Odili that he can bring him six girls and Odili will have sex with them till he gets tired.
When Chief Nanga says Jalio has composed a song instead of a book.
When Chief Koko discovers that the coffee was not poisonous and Chief Nanga starts teasing him.
Proverbs/Sayings: a proverb is a brief saying that gives advice about how people should live or that express a belief that is generally thought to be true.
Do the right and shame the devil.
It did not matter what you knew but who you knew.
“…better the water is spilled than the pot is broken…”
Idioms: an idiom is an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its separate words but that has a separate meaning of its own.
Kick the bucket (die).
To put a cat among pigeons (to destroy one’s success)
The treatment costs me water and fire (it costs a lot of money)
PLOT OF THE NOVEL
Plot refers to the flow of events in a literary work. The author arranged the events into 13 chapters in his book. Chinua Achebe used chronological order at large extent and flashback in some extent.
This refers to the kind of plot in which the events are arranged from the beginning to the end (chronological order). In the novel, the story starts at Anata Grammar School where Odili teaches and Chief Nanga visits the school. Then Odili is taken to Bori, and after to Maxwell’s house, national election and the overthrow of the government and imprisonment of all corrupt and irresponsible leaders.
In the book, the author used flashback when Odili tells the past life of Chief Nanga. There is a flashback while Odili tells his story when he was in Giligili as a houseboy and when he gives us the background of Odili’s father.
Foreshadowing is found where Odili tells us that even though the people were praising Chief Nanga; the man was ruining the nation by enriching himself.
Chief Nanga’s interrogation indicates that he was interested in Odili’s girlfriend.
Another instance of foreshadowing occurs when Odili discusses the danger of political involvement and begins to fear for his own safety.
Finally, Chief Nanga’s attempt to bribe Odili out of the election indicates that the Chief will undertake drastic measures to eliminate his competitors.
Protagonist and antagonist
The protagonist of the story is the narrator, Odili Samalu, and the antagonist is Chief M.A. Nanga.
Odili seeks revenge on Chief Nanga by pursuing his fiancée and contesting his cabinet seat.
When Odili’s girlfriend, Elsie, visits Chief Nanga’s mansion, the Minister seduces her. This prompts the narrator to seek revenge.
STYLE OF THE NOVEL
Style refers to the manner an artist used to present his work. The author of the novel “A man of the People” employed the use of several styles as follows;
Chinua Achebe presented his work by narrative form in large extent, and dialogue form in small extent.
Example: Dialogue between Odili and the father of his friend.
A dialogue between stalwarts and Odili.
The author has narrated the story using the first-person point of view that the narrator is also a main character. The story is narrated by Odili, a young teacher who is an idealistic intellectual.
Chinua Achebe has also used poems, songs, letters, notice and biblical language.
The tone of the story is impassioned, pensive, and critical. The mood is frustrated and restless.
Throughout the story, Odili consistently comments on education and its significance in his life.
While Odili narrates the story in British English, the novel also features excerpts in Pidgin English. British English predicates a certain sense of formality and level of education. Pidgin English, on the contrary, is most often spoken by domestic workers.
The motif of cars appears throughout A Man of the People. Cars signify social status and economic success.
A Man of the People and 1960s Nigeria
A Man of the People is set in an unnamed African country in order to make a broader comment on the post-colonial struggles across the continent. A Man of the People is a satire, and understanding the political climate of Nigeria in the 1960s is essential to the novel’s greater meaning.
In 1960, Nigeria was freed from colonial influence and ruled under Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. During his reign, workers in rural regions began to notice the large differences between their village lifestyles and the lifestyles of the politicians in Lagos. This resulted in a nationwide strike in June 1964. During the national elections in 1964, many dissenters of the political regime were murdered for their beliefs. Additionally, there was global concern and pressure due to Europe’s continual economic stake in African resources. This mounting pressure culminated in the military coup d’état in January 1966.
RELEVANCE OF THE BOOK
The book is very relevant to our current societies, because all things which are discussed within the book, are those found in our current societies especially in African countries.
For example, the issue of corruption which is discussed in this book, is even in our societies. This issue is a big problem because higher leaders tend to engage in corruption. So, this book is very relevant to our societies.
RELEVANCE OF THE TITLE
The title of the book “A Man of The People” is ironic which is not relevant to the content of the book. Instead of showing good things which support the title, the book portrays the evils done by a person whom people call “a man of the people=Chief Nanga” but in fact the person deserves to be called an enemy of the people due to his bad behaviours.
ANALYSIS OF THE NOVEL
Chinua Achebe’s novel, “A Man of The People”, is a book of political, social, economic and moral contrasts. The book was written in first person, and invites readers to experience the flow of emotions, fears, tensions, suspense and the pain that Odili, the main character in the book, undergoes.
Position and role of women
This is how an author portrays women in his work of art resembling the real life of women in our societies.
Woman as a weak, humiliated and oppressed person: Mrs. Nanga was easily forced to end education and marry Chief Nanga and she is also humiliated and oppressed by her husband. Elsie, Jean and Agnes are portrayed as weak people.
Woman as a prostitute: In this novel, women have been portrayed as prostitutes especially through Elsie, Jean and Agnes.
Woman as an upholder of traditional values and customs: Mrs. Nanga takes her children to their home land, Anata, at least once a year, so that they could not forget their traditional values.
Woman as an intelligent and educated person: Elsie is a trained nurse, Eunice is a lawyer and a member of CPC, and Agnes is also educated and a lawyer.
Woman as an unfaithful person: Agnes, Akilo and Jean are unfaithful to their husbands. Elsie is also unfaithful to her fiancée, Ralph and later Odili.
Woman as a generous person: Edna is very kind to Odili as when Odili is beaten up by Chief Nanga’s thugs and admitted to the hospital, she shows sympathy and nurses him.
Woman as a person with good advice: When Odili has a quarrel against his father; Mama, the first wife of Hezekiah, advised Odili to ask forgiveness from his father.
Woman as a courageous and revolutionist person who can take part in a struggle against evils: The author portrays Eunice as a revolutionist, as she performs the anti-governmental activities, and also kills Chief Koko as a revenge to her fiancée.
Woman as a family caregiver: In the novel, the first Hezekiah’s wife called Mama was responsible for caring of the whole family.