Author Archives: AnnaA

Short Story: “The Identical Twins” by Kenechukwu Obi

Obi’s short story tells the tale of a set of twins who take two very different paths in life, only to ultimately succumb to the same fate. Without giving too much away, I will say that the ending of this story was rather abrupt and unexpected. I was disappointed as I thought the story up until that point was very well written and touched on many of the themes we’ve discussed this year including identity and misplaced anger. The ending of “The Identical Twins” seemed to me to be sort of a cop out, as if Obi got tired of writing and wanted to just end the story. However, I do still recommend taking the 10-15 minutes to read this short story. I would be curious to see what others thought of the ending!

http://publishyourstory.blogspot.com/2010/03/identical-twins-by-kenechukwu-obi.html

Digital Participation: Review of Ama Ata Aidoo’s “The Girl Who Can and Other Stories”

Hey everyone! Hope you’re enjoying your weekend!

I recently finished Aidoo’s collection of short stories and I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this book! I love short stories in general, but even for those of you that typically avoid the short story collections when browsing the bookshelves, this is definitely not the one to pass over! Check out the link to my book review below:

http://www.amazon.com/review/R1VVSFA8BELZRD/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0435910132

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Misplaced Anger/Blame

We’ve been talking about misplaced anger since the midterm and while I don’t want to beat dead horse, I believe that Walking with Shadows adds a new element, which I will call misplaced blame, to this recurring theme. In the novel there are several examples of misplaced anger, most often directed towards Adrian. However, there are also examples of misplaced blame placed on Adrian’s friends and family by their own doing. To simplify, there are members of Adrian’s family who direct blame upon themselves. It is not that this anger or blame should be directed towards someone else, it is that it shouldn’t be directed at anyone.

I’ll use one vivid example in which this misplaced blame occurred in an effort to illustrate my point. It occurred when Adrian’s mother confronted him, saying “ ‘What did we do wrong with you?’ She said more to herself. “We tried to harden you when we noticed you were weak…We did everything to make you normal”(197). Dibia makes it clear that this is an instance of misplaced blame by Adrian’s mom with the words “She said more to hersef.” Adrian’s mother should not be blaming herself nor anyone, as Adrian’s sexuality is no one’s fault nor is it something that one should feel guilt for.

However, based on the selections we’ve read in Walking with Shadows, it is evident that Adrian’s family is searching for answers and with that comes this irrational misplaced blame. But until Nigerian society, and specifically Adrian’s family, ceases to view homosexuality as something that needs explanation, this misplaced blame will continue. Additionally, I think this is a broader issue that we see within families who have a gay family member, worldwide. I feel like I see instances in which parents ask themselves “where they went wrong” in popular culture, as well as in real life.

So I was curious if anyone can think of any other examples of misplaced blame? Or maybe you have even noticed another element of misplaced anger within the novel?

Almost Suicide

Yes, you read that title correctly. We’ve encountered two “almost suicides” in Dog Days. The first being from Book 1 when “the man in the brown jacket” almost went through with shooting himself. The second failed suicide occurred in Book 2 when the mother who had no money to feed her children, claiming “Today is the day they’re gonna kill me,” laid under a bus in the hopes of being run over. Yet despite these drastic attempts, in both instances the victim ended up backing out due to fear and public humiliation. So my question is why does Nganang include these two “almost suicides?”

Here are my thoughts:
I think that these suicides are Nganang’s way of showing not just the drastic measures people in Cameroon take due to “the crisis,” but also showing how “the crisis” has created a unique community aspect within Madagascar. For both suicides were ultimately stopped as a result of public intervention. Now I know in the “man in the brown jacket’s” case, some of the residents of Madagascar were egging him on, but it was still the community presence that made the life or death difference. The crisis made everyone, for lack of a better word, nosey; they are more interested in each other’s affairs. Also, the fact that the suicides failed at the hands of the community has to carry some weight when it comes to considering what Nganang hoped for the community to allude to in relation to the crisis.

Could these almost suicides be Nganang’s way of highlighting a positive aspect of “the crisis” or have I totally missed the mark?

Does anyone have any thoughts on what the significance of the two failed suicides is?

I would love to hear some other ideas! I feel like they were put in the novel to make a significant point! Am I crazy? 🙂

Adrian and Langston

Now that we are deeper into the novel, we are beginning to get more insight into each of the main characters. As Adrian’s character develops we start to see a more confident side of him emerge. When we were first introduced to Adrian he seemed quite average, nothing special, perhaps even boring at times. But as the novel progresses and Adrian becomes more comfortable in Sierra Leone, I think we begin to see a man with much more substance. Furthermore, I believe that his change in character was due in part to Mamakay.

Now bear with me as I try to draw parallels between Adrian in The Memory of Love and Langston from All Our Names. 🙂 In All Our Names we watch Langston go from living in Issac’s shadow to living in America on his own. Additionally, as I noted earlier, in The Memory of Love Adrian makes a transition from a timid psychologist to a brave and passionate lover. So, the first parallel can be seen in that both Langston and Adrian develop into more assertive and complex characters as the novel progresses. Yet another parallel emerges between the two characters when one notes the women they had relationships with. Both Adrian and Langston seek out nurturing yet passionate relationships despite knowing that there is little change for a future. Langston and Helen come from two different worlds and only have an allotted amount of time together while Adrian is married and will likely return to Britain soon. However, both men still allow these relationships to persist, which also illustrates their maturation and evolution as characters in the novels. I hope these two parallels helped you to see the same correlation that I see between Adrian and Langston, as I struggled to put into words the parallel that I saw.

Anyone have any thoughts on an additional parallel we might draw?

Institutional Racism in Lumumba

In class, we discussed institutional racism in the context of “Nervous Conditions”. However, while we briefly mentioned the concept when we were discussing Lumumba during our most recent class period, we did not note any specific examples of institutional racism that we may have observed in the film. So, I wanted to address a case of institutional racism from the film that really caught my attention, perhaps due to the pure audacity of it.

In the beginning of the film, Lumumba had to go to a government office to receive his “civilized persons card.” While this was a brief the scene, I believe it is a blatant display of institutional racism by the Belgian government for several reasons. The first being somewhat on obvious in that only the black Congolese citizens were required, by the government(the Belgians) to obtain the card if they wanted better paying jobs and more varied positions. But a more subtle reason confirming that the Belgian government, as an institution, is subjecting the Congolese to institutional racism, is that by issuing these cards, they are assuming that because of their race, the black Congolese people are uncivilized. This assumption has led to several instances of racism during the Belgian rule over the Congo, the issuance of the cards being just one of them.

Furthermore, I think that Peck included this short scene to illustrate just how powerful the colonial rule was over all aspects of one’s life in the Congo. This is evidenced in that even Lumumba, who appears both intelligent and civilized, is required to get a “civilized persons card,” proving that no black citizen, despite what their status or position in their community may be, is above this ludicrous system.

Achebe Interview

Hey guys! I came across this interview this weekend so I thought I would share (some of you have probably already seen it). I believe it originally aired in May 2008, after the 50th anniversary of Things Fall Apart was published. He speaks almost as beautifully as he writes. 🙂 Overall, he seems like a very well-versed and humble man. A few of my favorite parts (if you don’t want to/don’t have time to watch all 23 minutes):

at 7:23: regarding his responsibility as a writer

at 11:40: he talks about his fame as a writer

at 19:20: his opinion about Chimamanda Adichie (he really didn’t seem to wan’t to talk about her)…at this point you should try to watch the end of the video. The interviewer asks him something he really doesn’t want to answer. 

 

 

“Mother is Supreme”

In response to our brief in-class discussion, regarding the misogynistic characteristics of the African ethnic groups present in the novel, I thought it best to address a passage that discusses Mbanta’s concept that “Mother is Supreme.” This passage adds to what we had previously come to know as a woman’s role in the clan. This passage depicts a whole new version of women that we have yet to see in Things Fall Apart.

We have read about women cooking, bearing and raising children, and obeying orders without ever really reading about their impact on society, until this passage. It is now evident that a mother’s role is much more multifaceted and important than what we had discussed in class. Uchendu, a leader of the Mbanta clan, explains “But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his mother land. Your mother is there to protect you. She is buried there. And that is why we say that mother is supreme.”(98) Achebe’s inclusion of this narrative provides the reader with insight into the value of women in the clan, which we had yet to really see. Furthermore, I do not think Achebe’s usage of the word supreme was accidental. By definition supreme means “most important or most powerful.” Achebe wants us, as readers, to recognize the significant role that females play not only in the clans but also on the novel as a whole. This passage stands out primarily due to its uniqueness in that Achebe had not previously shed light on the prominence and importance of women in the novel.

Now to briefly play devils advocate in the fifty or so words I have left: One could argue that this passage is just furthering the sexism that we already knew to be present in the novel in that it is associating sorrow and bitterness with women.

However, I personally see the inclusion of this passage as an important message to the reader that a women’s role in the culture Achebe has depicted is much more than what we had previously concluded.