Mar 16, 2019 | 01:06 am | 10
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Literature ushers us into the realities of human situations, feelings, problems, challenges and the experiences of life in the society. The word “Literature” according to Gabriel C Okoye is the reflection of life and human experience, and it is an act that concerns itself with people. Chiweikpe Iwuchukwu sees it as any imaginative work of art, which uses language, plot, character, setting etc to give us a picture of life. Also, according to S.Y Atabo, literature is a kind of written discourse either in prose, poetry or drama.
Literature springs out from our innate love for telling a story, of arranging words in pleasing patterns, of using these words to express some special aspect of our human experience.
Let’s take our examples from Things Fall Apart, Arrow Of God, The Last Duty, Half Of A Yellow Sun and Girls At War And Other Stories. The experiences of reading these books of different authors have an impact on several readers in Nigeria, Africa and the entire world at large. Those who have lived in one area or the other and have experienced life in one way or the other will realise that it is describing something that relates and belongs to their own lives. They feel pleased that this is perfectly presented. Such readers become immediately intimate with the work. These readers are here experiencing the simplest kind of relationship between literature and life.
In Africa, especially in Nigeria, the novelist have used their story telling genres as a functional tool for cultural reaffirmation, social change and teaches moral in the Nigerian society as a corrective mantle for wrong or distorted conception about Nigerians, before, during and after independence of the country.
The Nigerian novelists have not only used novels as a means of educating, informing and entertainment but also use their novels as a vehicle for creation and recreation of the Nigerian society that has disintegrated over time because of war. They use novels to rebuild the Nigerian society, identity and create awareness for the reality of the Nigerians’ lives before, during and after the war in which Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Half Of A Yellow Sun and Isidore Okpewho in The Last Duty mirror the Nigerian society.
Writers as products of the society try to portray their societal values, norms, customs, moral issues and cultures as their contribution to the development of the nation’s identity, and unity from the local background to the larger unit of the nation through their novels. The novels have moral roles to play in guiding the societal value, custom, politics, economy, welfare and religious level of their society.
No writer writes in “vacuum”, it means a writer can either write from his/her own experience or cultural background, as in the case of Chimamanda Adichie’s Half Of A Yellow Sun and Isidore Okpewho’s The Last Duty. Novelist as a product of the society uses his/her novel to portray the happenings in the society in order to give a positive awareness, probably by proffering solution to the certain issues highlighted.
Societal disintegration (when the society falls apart), is due to the collapse or breakdown of the traditional social support systems. In this context, “society” according to Tainter Joseph, refers to the social order which maintains a society rather than the political and economic orders that define its boundary.
War is an armed conflict between countries, nations, states, ethnics or other sizeable groups usually involving the engagement of military forces. War is one of the major things that disintegrate the societies in the world. War in the words of Harry Browne:
It is your children or your grandchildren dying before they are even fully adults, or being maimed or mentally scared for life. It is your brothers and sisters being taught to kill other people and to hate people who are just like themselves and who don’t want to kill anyone either. It is your children seeing their buddies’ limbs blown off their bodies. It is hundreds of thousands of human beings dying years before their time. It is millions of people separated forever from the ones they loved. It is the destruction of homes for which people worked for decades. It is the end of careers that meant as much to others as your career means to you. (144-145).
Thus, war and societal disintegration have been portrayed in literature and fictions. They serve as one of the major thematic thrusts that enrich literary works all around the world through poetry, drama and prose (fiction) till present.
The conflicts and other social issues overtime have impacted on literature and it has changed the ideas and focus of writers around the world in literature. Over the years due to the world wars, the present literary thematic thrust has changed from the former period of literature that focuses on nature than the society. So, writers have focused their attention on the society in order to explain and pass across the experience of the war and show its effects on their societies.
Thus, in the Nigeria literature, the civil war through its violence and tragedy of the war has been memorialized in countless works such as prose, poetry, drama, and even non-fictions by the Nigeria writers. The civil war has come to dominate the literary zeal and attention of the contemporary Nigeria writers.
Writers such as Rene Wellek (238-9), Wole Soyinka(21), Chinua Achebe (7-8) and Chukwudi Maduka (11) have at various times agreed that the writer in African society is the conscience of the society and functions as its: historian, rescuing its past; critic, analyzing its present; and mentor, helping to guide it toward its future.
Since the war ended, many works in different genres of literature by Nigerians and foreigners have been produced. As it is now, even the younger generations of writers are still writing on the story of the war, exploring new styles, themes and approaches, which dwell on the social disorder, conflict, human failure and weakness. It can therefore be said that most post Nigerian civil war literature deals with the social issues troubling the Nigerian society. Some Nigerian writers, in books like Chimamanda Adichie’s Half Of A Yellow Sun, Isidore Okpewho’s The Last Duty, Chukwuemeka Ike’s Sunset At Dawn, Chinua Achebe’s Girls At War And Other Stories and Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come portray the Nigerian civil war or the Biafra war in their works in different styles and patterns.
Professor Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo who teaches literature, is therefore of the opinion that, historical experiences will always continue to inspire writers, even future writers who have been born today. Writers can always approach the issue from different angles; somebody could approach it from the perspective of children in the war, soldiers in the war or civilians in the war.
In Nigeria, the themes of societal disintegration and war through the Biafra war will continue to be a source of inspiration to the Nigerian writers and as a literary tonic to the Nigerian literature.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
This research work is focused in the themes of societal disintegration and war in Chimamanda Adichie’s Half Of A Yellow Sun and Isidore Okpewho’s The Last Duty. This work is an attempt to add and contribute to the existing few numbers of critical works on these Nigerian novelists.
Also, the present researcher has searched round and has not come across any critical work or long essay written that focused on societal disintegration and war in Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and Okpewho’s The Last Duty because the desired attention is not yet given to these two authors and their novels when compared to other writers.
Consequently, the work will try to clearly pay attention to the roles the texts Half Of A Yellow Sun and The Last Duty has played in revealing or examining the themes of societal disintegration and war in the two fictional works selected.
1.3 AIM AND OBJECTIVES.
The aim of this study or work is to resolve or examine the themes of societal disintegration and war in Chimamanda Adichie’s Half Of A Yellow Sun and Isidore Opkewho’s The Last Duty. The objectives are to examine:
The effect of tribalism
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
At the end of this work, it shall be beneficial to the general public, as the research findings shall improve and increase their understanding of the novels and other Nigerian war novels that focus on the issues of conflict and social disorder in the society.
Schools shall equally find this work useful; the findings of this research work shall also be of help to government at all levels, non governmental bodies, groups and individuals who are interested in conflict resolution.
Lastly, it shall be useful to the students of literature at various institutions of learning.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY.
The scope of this research is limited to Chimamanda Adichie’s Half Of A Yellow Sun and Isidore Okpewho’s The Last Duty. These two novels or fictions were chosen for analysis because they focus on the themes of social disorder and conflict. They also project the themes of societal disintegration and war which are of the researcher’s interest.
1.6 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
This research shall be written using two main sources which are primary and secondary sources. The primary sources are two novels, Chimamanda Adichie’s Half Of A Yellow Sun and Isidore Okpewho’s The Last Duty. The secondary sources are however, other materials like journals, articles, internet, textbooks and notes on societal disintegration and war.
All these sources shall be consulted.