By Neil McEwan (auth.)
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Extra info for Africa and the Novel
Although Okonkwo and Nwoye are troubled in their relationship and in themselves, the chief attraction of older village life lies in a freedom from various cares we think of as modern. Hard work on 32 Africa and the Novel the farms and readiness for war are expected of every man, but leisure and recreation come naturally to most people, and the villages have learnt to avoid or at least to contain warfare. Life was cheaper in Europe. Okonkwo's father Unoka was, though a gifted musician, a failure in Umuofia because he was slack at his fanning and at war.
It galls Madame that Toundi hopes to become more than a houseboy, and when she calls him 'Monsieur Toundi', a sarcasm he cannot grasp, the sources of her bitterness have been made clear to the reader from every stage of his account of les Blancs. She is happier thinking of him as a trapper of porcupines because, irrationally, that seems to her remote as a fairy-tale. Because the novel is an exposure of imaginative failing, the satire is both irresistible and pertinent twenty years after the colonial period, while novels which are only 'denunciations of colonialism' through examples of misconduct tend to provoke resistance even against the reader's will.
Laurens van der Post has said of Afrikaaner farmers that they treat women harshly because they reject 'the woman in themselves'. 7 It could certainly be said of Okonkwo. Ache be avoids polarising traditional and contemporary roles for women. His Umuofian women and girls are far from being wretched slaves, although he is realistic about their subjection. Rarely in literature can wives have been so battered, bullied, and msulted as Okonkwo's. While his fear of 'feminine' weakness makes him uncommonly severe, it is obvious that the villagers disapprove of his beating his wives too hard, and in the Week of Peace, rather than of his beating them at all.
Africa and the Novel by Neil McEwan (auth.)