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The Novel as a Medium of Global Expression - Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel and Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

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The Novel as a Medium of Global Expression It is difficult to contain novels such as Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel and Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart "within territorial boundaries." Novels such as these have specific settings making it seem like they are contained by geography. Nevertheless, the readers are able to relate to characters in any novel in various ways. The Stone Angel and Things Fall Apart, for instance, both contain a life story of tragic heroes that appeals to a diversified group of readers. Laurence's Hagar is a proud and stubborn old woman who lives in a quiet Canadian prairie town of Manawaka in isolation. Through the course of recounting the past, Hagar is able to find self-identity. Okonkwo, in Achebe's novel, is also portrayed as a proud man who clings to the traditional values of his clan so much that it leads to his ruin. Readers are able to relate to these characters through unifying themes such as the influences of characters and time on an individual. A novel's themes not only help focus on specific issues in the setting of the novel, but they allow readers to view these issues from a wider scope that is, to be compared and contrasted to the rest of the world - making the novel a form of "global expression." The main characters in The Stone Angel and Things Fall Apart, Hagar and Okonkwo, both share similar characteristics in that both arrogant and isolated because they take excessive pride in the old ways of life in the family and clan. ...read more.


He rules his household "with a heavy hand" and his family remains in "perpetual fear of his fiery temper." He believes being cold will make him stronger than the others. While this does make Okonkwo appear powerful it prevents others from truly understanding him. He does not express his affections for Ikemefuna even though the child treats him like a real father and in many ways, possess all the qualities Okonkwo desires in a son. This is critical because it creates a misunderstanding between Nwoye and himself. After the killing of Ikemefuna, Okonkwo clearly feels guilty and depressed but he does not share his grief with Nwoye, who loved Ikemefuna just as much. "Something" has "given way" inside Nwoye as a result of this: he begins to question the correctness of his clan's ways. Is putting in "earthenware pots and [throwing them] away in the forest" justifiable? The lack of explanations leads Nwoye to reevaluate the clan's traditions and makes the Christian faith more appealing than ever in his eyes. In this scenario, Okonkwo loses two sons. It is unfortunately that he does not realise his stubborn ways at this time of his life for if he has, he may have been saved at the end. Readers may find it easy to relate to characters that experience changes due to time. In The Stone Angel, they are able to move into the future with Hagar after she discovers her self-identity. ...read more.


His naming his next child "Nwofia - 'Begotten in the Wilderness'" evidently demonstrate he has not changed - but the rest of the world has. He has lost the chance to lead his clan against the new faith and the take over of the European government. Okonkwo becomes so "deeply grieved" for the breaking of the clan that he tries with all his might to fight back. Okonkwo should be admired for his courage in resisting the Europeans invading his country but because of his insistence to be violent and not weak like his father, he dies a tragic death in fighting. Novels serve as windows into other worlds and sometimes readers use them to escape from their surroundings and problems. This is effective at times but readers will find that even if they read books written by those on the other side of the globe, they are able to study and relate to characters such as Hagar and Okonkwo and see the world in a different light. While Margaret Laurence focuses more on discovery of self-identity through the breaking down of isolation in a small town, Chinua Achebe concentrates on painting a bigger portrait of the world for his readers to see. He writes the story of Okonkwo and the villages to remind his fellow Africans that their culture is "falling apart" and additionally, to portray a clash between two cultures that brings sadness, violence, and change. The Stone Angel and Things Fall Apart truly demonstrate that not all changes are bad and that often, the difficulties are the result of both deliberate and unintended misunderstandings. ...read more.

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