By Neil McEwan (auth.)
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Additional info for Africa and the Novel
The narrator is allowing for mixed opinions in his 1950s readers on the traditional status of women. In the paragraph which ends Chapter 7, Nwoye is shown to sense not indecorum but evil after his father has killed Ikemefuna, as he is said to have felt a chill of horror when he heard in the forest the crying of twins exposed to die; the narrator's sympathy with Nwoye there, and his implied aloofness from traditional practice are very clear. These private judgements are more effective for being tacit; they belong to a later period of Ibo debate.
Ogbuefi Ezeudu, the oldest of Okonkwo's neighbours, reports his father's recollections, which belong to the dim past of eighteenth-century Umuofia. The unreliability of oral tradition is known to the Umuofians and although they accept myths, including the widespread belief in descent from an heroic founder who fought with 'a spirit of the wild for seven days and seven nights' (Chapter 1), they discount fairy-tales. 'We have heard stories about white men who made the powerful guns and the strong drinks and took slaves away across the seas, but no one thought the stories were true' (Chapter 15).
The village could not afford a specialist however great his talents. Untitled and in debt, Unoka appears to have been tolerated although not respected. He might have enjoyed his music at ease if he had worked hard to grow his yams. The priestess he consults has, not unreasonably, no patience with him. African communal solidarity is sometimes said to have denied or repressed individuality. In Europe interest in the 'individual' is sometimes supposed to have formed in the Renaissance and to have grown, perhaps monstrously, in the 'bourgeois' centuries.
Africa and the Novel by Neil McEwan (auth.)