Monday, 20 March 2017

Silas Marner

Silas Marner
By: George Eliot

Introduction and brief Summary:

‘Silas Marner’ is a fine novel by George Eliot. It is a story about how a great wrong was set right. Silas Marner was a weaver by occupation. He was a young man of fervid and exemplary life. He was a hardworking and honest man but he was subjected to sudden attacks that left him in a kind of sleep in which he did not know what was happing around him. He did not what he did during the sleep. He was a member of a religious community. However, a false charge of theft was brought against him by a friend. The friend acted like an enemy that almost ruined his life. Silas was utterly disappointed and left the town forever. He went to a village called raveloe. It was an agricultural village with peaceful surrounding.
At raveloe he lived in seclusion away from people. Some of his neighbours looked at him suspiciously. He lived by himself meeting almost n one. He had earned a good about of gold (money) which he counted again and again. This gave him joy and company he badly needed. He denied himself all comforts and hoarded as much gold as he could. Thus, accumulation of money and gold became the purpose of his life.
But one day, this only joy of his life was also taken away from him. Squire Cass reprobate son stole gold from his cottage. His name was Dunstan Cass. His elder brother was Godfrey. He was also a man of loose morals. He had married a low type of woman who was addicted to intoxicant called laudanum. Godfrey loved this charming woman named molly. He kept his marriage secret and bribed his brother to help him in keeping it a secret.
The loss of money made silas’ life very miserable. Efforts were made to trace the theft but it was in vain. Dunstan had disappeared from the village for long none suspected him as he often disappeared from the village for long periods. In the meantime, Godfrey began to love Nancy. Molly on New Year’s Eve died near silas marner’s cottage in the snow. Her child Eppie found its silas marner’s house.
Silas adopted the child and brought her up. She became an apple of his eye. He began to love her more than anything else. Godgrey was relieved at the death of his wife molly as his way to marriage with Nancy was now clear. He kept this fact secret from Nancy fearing that she would not marry him if she came to know that Eppie was Molly’s daughter through Godfrey.
Godfrey and Nancy were married and lived peacefully but they were not blessed with a child. Godfrey suggested to Nancy that they should adopt Eppie(his own daughter by his former wife) Nancy was against adoption and did not agree to adoption of Eppie.
Eppie turned into a charming young girl of eighteen. She knew no one as father except silas. She knew that he loved her selflessly and devotedly. She too loved him very dearly. Silas was brought into contact with neighbours through her.
In the end, Godfrey told the secret of Eppie to his wife Nancy. Dunstan’s dead body was found drowned in a pond near Silas Marner’s cottage with the stolen money.  Godfrey was under the evil influence of his evil-minded brother. Now he was free from that evil. Godfrey and Nancy went to silas’s cottage and claimed Eppie as their rightful child. Eppie refused to acknowledge anyone as her father except silas. She refused to go with Godfrey. She married an honest, good natured young man and lived happily with silas Marner. The novel ends with a note of happiness.

‘Silas Marner’ describes peaceful rural life of Raveloe village very vividly. It is a charming and widely read book that shows George Eliot’s love for simple rustic life. The moral element dominates the novel. There is a fine mingling of humour and pathos. It is considered a fairy story because of its dreamy quality. It is also an allegorical tale depicting the victory of the good and the virtuous in the end. George Eliot believed in the law of nemesis and poetic justice. She believed that virtues are rewarded and vices are inevitably punished. 

GREAT EXPECTATIONS


GREAT EXPECTATIONS
By: Charels Dickens

Summary

As a young child, the orphan Pip lives with his sister and brother-in-law, the village blacksmith. On Christmas Eve, Pip is walking through the marshes when he meets an escaped convict who threatens him into bringing back food and a file to break the leg-irons. On Christmas Day, the convict is captured and returned to the prison ships known as The Hulks. He never reveals Pip’s assistance when he is caught and asked how he escaped his irons.
Much later, young Pip is sent to entertain Miss Havisham, a wealthy old lady who lives in a mansion known as Satis House. Miss Havisham is a bitter woman who was jilted on her wedding day long ago. She still wears her wedding gown, and the now-rotten wedding cake sits atop her dining room table. Her adopted daughter, Estella, is beautiful, and Pip instantly falls in love with her. But Estella is cold and distant. Over time, she softens somewhat toward Pip, but her affection is erratic. She tells him she can never love anyone.
Pip is dismissed from Miss Havisham’s service and becomes an apprentice to Joe. But Estella has instilled in him a shame in his commonness. He longs to be a gentleman, not a blacksmith. His discontent grows. One day he learns that an anonymous benefactor has left him an enormous sum of money. He is to move to London, where he will be trained to act as a gentleman. A lawyer, Jaggers, will oversee his inheritance. Pip is certain his benefactor is Miss Havisham, and believes he is being trained as Estella’s future husband. Pip's happiness is unfathomable as he moves to London, away from the only family and friends he has ever known. He is educated by Mr. Mathew Pocket and strikes a great friendship with his son, Herbert.
His wealth and position changes him, and soon Pip leads a dissipated life full of idleness. He is ashamed of Joe and Biddy, and wants little to do with them. He thinks association with them will lower him in Estella’s eyes. Estella continues to be a powerful factor in his life. She has been trained by Miss Havisham to break men’s hearts, and is constantly put in Pip’s life to toy with him. Even though she warns him she cannot love him, Pip persists in loving her.
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On his twenty-fourth birthday, Pip learns that his benefactor is not Miss Havisham, but the convict from long ago. He realizes he is not meant for Estella, and also that Miss Havisham deliberately let him assume incorrectly. As well, he realizes with shame that he has mistreated his good friend Joe, who was always faithful to him. Though Pip is ashamed of the convict, Magwitch, he is grateful and loyal, so he commits himself to protecting Magwitch from the police, who are looking for him. His friend, Herbert Pocket, helps him.
Pip's moral education begins. He decides he can no longer accept the convict’s money. He becomes compassionate towards Magwitch, realizing the depth of the convict’s love for him. He tries to help Magwitch escape, but in the chaos, Magwitch is injured and caught. Magwitch dies, but not before Pip discovers that adopted Estella is Magwitch’s daughter and tells Magwitch how lovely she is. Estella marries Pip’s enemy, Drummle. Miss Havisham dies, but not before repenting of the bitterness that has ruined her life. She leaves a good deal of money to Herbert Pocket, at Pip’s request, in the hope that it will earn her forgiveness. Pip goes to Joe and Biddy, who have married one another since the death of Pip’s sister. He atones for his sins against them then sets off on his own, determined to make things right in his life. The novel ends when he meets Estella after many years. She has left Drummle, who has since died. She is remarried. She and Pip part as friends and Pip realizes she will always be a part of his life, as surely as all the other memories of his once-great expectations.


“The Purloined Letter” (1844)

“The Purloined Letter” (1844)
By: E. A. Poe

Summary
In a small room in Paris, an unnamed narrator, who also narrates “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” sits quietly with his friend, C. Auguste Dupin. He ponders the murders in the Rue Morgue, which Dupin solved in that story. Monsieur G——, the prefect of the Paris police, arrives, having decided to consult Dupin again. The prefect presents a case that is almost too simple: a letter has been taken from the royal apartments. The police know who has taken it: the Minister D, an important government official. According to the prefect, a young lady possessed the letter, which contains information that could harm a powerful individual. When the young lady was first reading the letter, the man whom it concerned came into the royal apartments. Not wanting to arouse his suspicion, she put it down on a table next to her. The sinister Minister D then walked in and noted the letter’s contents. Quickly grasping the seriousness of the situation, he produced a letter of his own that resembled the important letter. He left his own letter next to the original one as he began to talk of Parisian affairs. Finally, as he prepared to leave the apartment, he purposely retrieved the lady’s letter in place of his own. Now, the prefect explains, the Minister D possesses a great deal of power over the lady.
Dupin asks whether the police have searched the Minister’s residence, arguing that since the power of the letter derives from its being readily available, it must be in his apartment. The prefect responds that they have searched the Minister’s residence but have not located the letter. He recounts the search procedure, during which the police systematically searched every inch of the hotel. In addition, the letter could not be hidden on the Minister’s body because the police have searched him as well. The prefect mentions that he is willing to search long and hard because the reward offered in the case is so generous. Upon Dupin’s request, the prefect reads him a physical description of the letter. Dupin suggests that the police search again.
One month later, Dupin and the narrator are again sitting together when the prefect visits. The prefect admits that he cannot find the letter, even though the reward has increased. The prefect says that he will pay 50,000 francs to anyone who obtains the letter for him. Dupin tells him to write a check for that amount on the spot. Upon receipt of the check, Dupin hands over the letter. The prefect rushes off to return it to its rightful owner, and Dupin explains how he obtained the letter.
Dupin admits that the police are skilled investigators according to their own principles. He explains this remark by describing a young boy playing “even and odd.” In this game, each player must guess whether the number of things (usually toys) held by another player is even or odd. If the guesser is right, he gets one of the toys. If he is wrong, he loses a toy of his own. The boy whom Dupin describes plays the game well because he bases his guesses on the knowledge of his opponent. When he faces difficulty, he imitates the facial expression of his opponent, as though to understand what he thinks and feels. With this knowledge, he often guesses correctly. Dupin argues that the Paris police do not use this strategy and therefore could not find the letter: the police think only to look for a letter in places where they themselves might hide it.
Dupin argues that the Minister D—— is intelligent enough not to hide the letter in the nooks and crannies of his apartment—exactly where the police first investigate. He describes to the narrator a game of puzzles in which one player finds a name on a map and tells the other player to find it as well. Amateurs, says Dupin, pick the names with the smallest letters. According to Dupin’s logic, the hardest names to find are actually those that stretch broadly across the map because they are so obvious.
With this game in mind, Dupin recounts the visit he made to the Minister’s apartment. After surveying the Minister’s residence, Dupin notices a group of visiting cards hanging from the mantelpiece. A letter accompanies them. It has a different exterior than that previously described by the prefect, but Dupin also observes that the letter appears to have been folded back on itself. He becomes sure that it is the stolen document. In order to create a reason for returning to the apartment, he purposely leaves behind his snuffbox. When he goes back the next morning to retrieve it, he also arranges for someone to make a commotion outside the window while he is in the apartment. When the Minister rushes to the window to investigate the noise, Dupin replaces the stolen letter with a fake. He justifies his decision to leave behind another letter by predicting that the Minister will embarrass himself when he acts in reliance upon the letter he falsely believes he still possesses. Dupin remarks that the Minister once wronged him in Vienna and that he has pledged not to forget the insult. Inside the fake letter, then, Dupin inscribes, a French poem that translates into English, “So baneful a scheme, if not worthy of Atreus, is worthy of Thyestes.”


THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER


THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
                                                                                           By: Edgar Allan Poe

SUMMARY

An unnamed narrator arrives at the House of Usher, a very creepy mansion owned by his boyhood friend Roderick Usher. Roderick has been sick lately, afflicted by a disease of the mind, and wrote to his friend, our narrator, asking for help. The narrator spends some time admiring the awesomely spooky Usher edifice. While doing so, he explains that Roderick and his sister are the last of the Usher bloodline, and that the family is famous for its dedication to the arts (music, painting, literature, etc.). Eventually, the narrator heads inside to see his friend.

                Roderick indeed appears to be a sick man. He suffers from an "acuteness of the senses," or hyper-sensitivity to light, sound, taste, and tactile sensations; he feels that he will die of the fear he feels. He attributes part of his illness to the fact that his sister, Madeline, suffers from catalepsy (a sickness involving seizures) and will soon die, and part of it to the belief that his creepy house is sentient (able to perceive things) and has a great power over him. He hasn’t left the mansion in years. The narrator tries to help him get his mind off all this death and gloom by poring over the literature, music, and art that Roderick so loves. It doesn’t seem to help.

                As Roderick predicted, Madeline soon dies. At least we think so. All we know is that Roderick tells the narrator she’s dead, and that she appears to be dead when he looks at her. Of course, because of her catalepsy, she might just look like she’s dead, post-seizure. Keep that in mind. At Roderick’s request, the narrator helps him to entomb her body in one of the vaults underneath the mansion. While they do so, the narrator discovers that the two of them were twins and that they shared some sort of supernatural, probably extrasensory, bond.

                About a week later, on a dark and stormy night, the narrator and Usher find themselves unable to sleep. They decide to pass away the scary night by reading a book. As the narrator reads the text aloud, all the sounds from the fictional story can be heard resounding from below the mansion. It doesn’t take long for Usher to freak out; he jumps up and declares that they buried Madeline alive and that now she is coming back. Sure enough, the doors blow open and there stands a trembling, bloody Madeline. She throws herself at Usher, who falls to the floor and, after "violent" agony, dies along with his sister. The narrator flees; outside he watches the House of Usher crack in two and sink into the dark, dank pool that lies before it.


"Home Burial" (1914)

"Home Burial" (1914)
By: Robert Frost

In this narrative poem, Frost describes a tense conversation between a rural husband and wife whose child has recently died. As the poem opens, the wife is standing at the top of a staircase looking at her child’s grave through the window. Her husband, at the bottom of the stairs, does not understand what she is looking at or why she has suddenly become so distressed. The wife resents her husband’s obliviousness and attempts to leave the house. The husband begs her to stay and talk to him about her grief; he does not understand why she is angry with him for manifesting his grief in a different way. Inconsolable, the wife lashes out at him, convinced of his apathy toward their dead child. The husband mildly accepts her anger, but the rift between them remains. She leaves the house as he angrily threatens to drag her back by force.
Analysis
In terms of form, this poem is a dramatic or pastoral lyric poem, using free-form dialogue rather than strict rhythmic schemes. Frost generally uses five stressed syllables in each line and divides stanzas in terms of lines of speech.
The poem describes two tragedies: first, the death of a young child, and second, the death of a marriage. As such, the title “Home Burial,” can be read as a tragic double entendre. Although the death of the child is the catalyst of the couple’s problems, the larger conflict that destroys the marriage is the couple’s inability to communicate with one another. Both characters feel grief at the loss of the child, but neither is able to understand the way that their partner chooses to express their sorrow.
The setting of the poem – a staircase with a door at the bottom and a window at the top – automatically sets up the relationship between the characters. The wife stands at the top of the stairs, directly in front of the window overlooking the graveyard, while the husband stands at the bottom of the stairs, looking up at her. While the couple shares the tragedy of their child’s death, they are in conflicting positions in terms of dealing with their grief.
With her position closest to the window, the wife is clearly still struggling with her grief over the loss of her baby. Incapable of moving on at this point in her life, the wife defines her identity in terms of the loss and would rather grieve for the rest of her life than grieve as a sort of pretense. The husband has dealt with his sorrow more successfully, as evidenced by his position at the bottom of the staircase, close to the door and the outside world. As a farmer, the husband is more accepting of the natural cycle of life and death in general, but also chooses to grieve in a more physical manner: by digging the grave for his child. Ironically, the husband’s expression of his grief is completely misunderstood by the wife; she views his behavior as a sign of his callous apathy.
Ultimately, each character is isolated from the other at opposite ends of the staircase. In order for the marriage to succeed, each character must travel an equal distance up or down the staircase in order to meet the other. The husband attempts to empathize with his wife, moving up the staircase toward her and essentially moving backward in his own journey towards acceptance of his child’s death. Even so, the wife is unable to empathize with her husband and only moves down the staircase after he has already left his position at the foot.
When the wife moves down the staircase, she assumes the upper hand in the power struggle between the two by ensuring that her husband cannot move between her and the door and stop her from leaving. Without the physical capacity to keep her from leaving, the husband must attempt to convince her to stay through communication - something that, as the poem demonstrates, has been largely unsuccessful throughout their marriage.


"Mending Wall" (1914)

"Mending Wall" (1914)
Robert Frost:


Every year, two neighbours meet to repair the stone wall that divides their property. The narrator is sceptical of this tradition, unable to understand the need for a wall when there is no livestock to be contained on the property, only apples and pine trees. He does not believe that a wall should exist simply for the sake of existing. Moreover, he cannot help but notice that the natural world seems to dislike the wall as much as he does: mysterious gaps appear, boulders fall for no reason. The neighbour, on the other hand, asserts that the wall is crucial to maintaining their relationship, asserting, “Good fences make good neighbours.” Over the course of the mending, the narrator attempts to convince his neighbour otherwise and accuses him of being old-fashioned for maintaining the tradition so strictly. No matter what the narrator says, though, the neighbour stands his ground, repeating only: “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Analysis
This poem is the first work in Frost's second book of poetry, “North of Boston,” which was published upon his return from England in 1915. While living in England with his family, Frost was exceptionally homesick for the farm in New Hampshire where he had lived with his wife from 1900 to 1909. Despite the eventual failure of the farm, Frost associated his time in New Hampshire with a peaceful, rural sensibility that he instilled in the majority of his subsequent poems. “Mending Wall” is autobiographical on an even more specific level: a French-Canadian named Napoleon Guay had been Frost’s neighbour in New Hampshire, and the two had often walked along their property line and repaired the wall that separated their land. Ironically, the most famous line of the poem (“Good fences make good neighbours”) was not invented by Frost himself, but was rather a phrase that Guay frequently declared to Frost during their walks. This particular adage was a popular colonial proverb in the middle of the 17th century, but variations of it also appeared in Norway (“There must be a fence between good neighbours”), Germany (“Between neighbour’s gardens a fence is good”), Japan (“Build a fence even between intimate friends”), and even India (“Love your neighbour, but do not throw down the dividing wall”).
In terms of form, “Mending Wall” is not structured with stanzas; it is a simple forty-five lines of first-person narrative. Frost does maintain iambic stresses, but he is flexible with the form in order to maintain the conversational feel of the poem. He also shies away from any obvious rhyme patterns and instead relies upon the occasional internal rhyme and the use of assonance in certain ending terms (such as “wall,” “hill,” “balls,” “well”).
In the poem itself, Frost creates two distinct characters who have different ideas about what exactly makes a person a good neighbor. The narrator deplores his neighbor’s preoccupation with repairing the wall; he views it as old-fashioned and even archaic. After all, he quips, his apples are not going to invade the property of his neighbour’s pinecones. Moreover, within a land of such of such freedom and discovery, the narrator asks, are such borders necessary to maintain relationships between people? Despite the narrator’s sceptical view of the wall, the neighbour maintains his seemingly “old-fashioned” mentality, responding to each of the narrator’s disgruntled questions and rationalizations with nothing more than the adage: “Good fences make good neighbours.”
As the narrator points out, the very act of mending the wall seems to be in opposition to nature. Every year, stones are dislodged and gaps suddenly appear, all without explanation. Every year, the two neighbours fill the gaps and replace the fallen boulders, only to have parts of the wall fall over again in the coming months. It seems as if nature is attempting to destroy the barriers that man has created on the land, even as man continues to repair the barriers, simply out of habit and tradition.
Ironically, while the narrator seems to begrudge the annual repairing of the wall, Frost subtley points out that the narrator is actually more active than the neighbour. It is the narrator who selects the day for mending and informs his neighbour across the property. Moreover, the narrator himself walks along the wall at other points during the year in order to repair the damage that has been done by local hunters. Despite his skeptical attitude, it seems that the narrator is even more tied to the tradition of wall-mending than his neighbor. Perhaps his skeptical questions and quips can then be read as an attempt to justify his own behavior to himself. While he chooses to present himself as a modern man, far beyond old-fashioned traditions, the narrator is really no different from his neighbor: he too clings to the concept of property and division, of ownership and individuality.
Ultimately, the presence of the wall between the properties does ensure a quality relationship between the two neighbors. By maintaining the division between the properties, the narrator and his neighbor are able to maintain their individuality and personal identity as farmers: one of apple trees, and one of pine trees. Moreover, the annual act of mending the wall also provides an opportunity for the two men to interact and communicate with each other, an event that might not otherwise occur in an isolated rural environment. The act of meeting to repair the wall allows the two men to develop their relationship and the overall community far more than if each maintained their isolation on separate properties.


DESIGN

DESIGN

By: Robert Frost  

SUMMARY

The poem begins with a simple setup—the first three lines introduce us to the main characters. We have a big white spider on a white flower, poised to eat a white moth. The speaker sees this bizarre little albino meeting as some weird witches' brew, as all three are brought together for some awful reason.
That observation leads the speaker to a series of questions: Why is this flower white, when it is usually blue? What brought the spider to that particular flower? What made the moth decide to flutter by right then?
Frost concludes that if it were "design" that brought these three together, it must be some pretty dark design. In other words, it's not a comforting thought to think that God went out of his way just to make sure this moth got eaten. But that's the crucial "if" of the last line: if design does govern these small things. (What if—gulp—there's no design at all, and everything in life is just totally random occurrences?) The reader is left with just as many questions as Frost. This short poem takes a simple little thought and pushes us all the way to questioning the very nature of creation and life as we know it. Well played, sir.



Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
By: J. K. Rowling

Plot Overview

At Malfoy Manor, Snape tells Voldemort the date that Harry’s friends are planning to move him from the house on Privet Drive to a new safe location, so that Voldemort can capture Harry en route.
As Harry packs to leave Privet Drive, he reads two obituaries for Dumbledore, both of which make him think that he didn’t know Dumbledore as well as he should have. Downstairs, he bids good-bye to the Dursleys for the final time, as the threat of Voldemort forces them to go into hiding themselves.
The Order of the Phoenix, led by Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody, arrives to take Harry to his new home at the Weasleys’ house, the Burrow. Six of Harry’s friends take Polyjuice Potion to disguise themselves as Harry and act as decoys, and they all fly off in different directions. The Death Eaters, alerted to their departure by Snape, attack Harry and his friends. Voldemort chases Harry down, but Harry’s wand fends Voldemort off, seemingly without Harry’s help.
Harry arrives at the Burrow, and when his friends get there, he learns that Moody has been killed and George Weasley maimed in the chase. Harry begins to have visions in which he sees what Voldemort is doing through Voldemort’s eyes, and witnesses Voldemort interrogating a wand maker, trying to find out how to defeat Harry.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione assemble the books and tools necessary to embark on the quest that Dumbledore left them: to find and destroy the Horcruxes into which Voldemort placed fragments of his soul, making himself immortal as long as the objects survive. Rufus Scrimgeour, the Minister of Magic, delivers to them the items Dumbledore left them in his will. Harry is left the Snitch he caught in his first Quidditch match, as well as the Sword of Gryffindor, which Scrimgeour does not give him, claiming it did not belong to Dumbledore. Ron is left a device called a Deluminator that turns lights off, and Hermione is left a book of wizard fairy tales. None of them have any idea what the items mean.
The Weasleys host the wedding of their son Bill to Fleur Delacour. At the reception, Harry hears Ron’s Aunt Muriel telling terrible rumors about Dumbledore: that his sister was a Squib (a non-magical person born to wizard parents) kept prisoner by her family, and that Dumbledore had dabbled in the Dark Arts as a young man. The wedding is interrupted by Death Eaters, as Voldemort has taken over the Ministry of Magic and is now in charge of the wizarding world.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione Disapparate (i.e., teleport) to a busy street in London, where they are soon attacked by Death Eaters. They find safe haven in the enchanted house left to Harry by Sirius Black, Number Twelve Grimmauld Place. There, they discover the significance of the letters R.A.B. In the previous book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry and Dumbledore had undergone trials to find a locket that Voldemort had made into a Horcrux, but at the end they found that the locket had been stolen, with a fake locket and note left behind, signed R.A.B. Now, they see that the initials belong to Sirius’s dead younger brother, Regulus Arcturus Black, who had been one of Voldemort’s followers. They remember that they have seen a locket in the house that is now gone.
Harry and his friends summon Kreacher, the house-elf who came with the house. Kreacher explains that Voldemort had used him to test the magical defenses guarding the locket, having borrowed him from Regulus. Afterward, Regulus had a change of heart about serving Voldemort, and Kreacher had helped him to steal the locket and leave the fake one in its place. The real locket had been in Kreacher’s possession for many years, but was recently stolen by Mundungus Fletcher. Harry orders Kreacher to find Mundungus and bring him back.
Kreacher returns later with Mundungus, who reveals that the locket was confiscated from him by Dolores Umbridge, a senior official at the Ministry of Magic. Ron, Harry, and Hermione disguise themselves as Ministry employees and sneak into the Ministry, stealing the locket from Umbridge, while witnessing the Ministry’s efforts to persecute wizards who don’t come from pureblood wizard families.
As they Disapparate back to the house on Grimmauld Place, Hermione accidentally leads one of the Death Eaters inside the protective enchantments, so they are forced to abandon the house and go on the run, moving from place to place and camping in the woods. They don’t know where to look for the next Horcrux, and they don’t know how to destroy the locket, which is protected by powerful magic. Harry has a vision of Voldemort tracking down another famous wand maker and looking for a young man who stole a wand.
One night, in the forest, Harry and friends overhear a goblin saying that the Sword of Gryffindor that had been in the headmaster’s office at Hogwarts is a fake. Harry realizes that the real Sword of Gryffindor has the power to destroy Horcruxes, and that they need to find it. Ron, frustrated at their lack of progress, gets fed up and abandons Harry and Hermione.
Harry and Hermione go to Godric’s Hollow, where they visit the graves of Harry’s parents and see the house where he lived before Voldemort killed them. An old woman named Bathilda Bagshot leads them into her house, and they follow, hoping that she knew Dumbledore and can give them the sword, but she turns out to be dead, her body inhabited by Voldemort’s snake, Nagini. They barely escape, and Harry’s wand is destroyed in the fight.
Harry reads the new (and malicious) biography of Dumbledore, which claims that Dumbledore helped the Dark wizard Grindelwald as a young man and may have been responsible for his own sister’s death. Harry recognizes in a photograph in the book the young man whom Voldemort is seeking, and it is Grindelwald.
One night, while Harry is keeping watch, a silver doe Patronus appears and leads him to the Sword of Gryffindor, buried beneath the ice in a pond. Harry dives in, and the locket Horcrux around his neck tries to strangle him. Ron, who has returned, saves Harry, recovers the sword, and destroys the locket.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione go to visit Xenophilius Lovegood, because Hermione has discovered a strange symbol in the book Dumbledore left her, and they had seen Xenophilius wearing it. Xenophilius explains that the symbol represents the Deathly Hallows, three objects—the Elder Wand, Resurrection Stone, and Invisibility Cloak—that were made by Death and that give the owner of the three objects mastery over death.
Xenophilius betrays them to the Death Eaters, hoping to free his daughter Luna, whom the Ministry has imprisoned, and they narrowly escape from his house. Harry is tempted to pursue the Hallows and abandon his quest for the Horcruxes. Harry accidentally says Voldemort’s name, which triggers a tracking spell, and they are caught by Voldemort’s followers and taken to Malfoy Manor.
At Malfoy Manor, Bellatrix Lestrange tortures Hermione for information about where they got the sword they are carrying, since she thought it was in her vault at Gringotts bank. She is very concerned about anything else they might have taken. Dobby, the Malfoys’ former house-elf, helps Harry and his friends to escape, along with Ollivander the wand maker, Luna Lovegood, and Griphook the goblin. Harry takes them all to Ron’s brother Bill’s cottage.
Harry guesses that Voldemort has a Horcrux stored in Bellatrix’s vault, since she seemed so worried about it, and he persuades Griphook the goblin to help him break into the vault. With Griphook’s help, Harry, Ron, and Hermione break in and steal the Hufflepuff Cup from the vault, then escape on the back of a dragon.
Harry learns from a vision of Voldemort’s that the final Horcrux is at Hogwarts, so they travel to the nearby village of Hogsmeade. There they meet Aberforth, Dumbledore’s brother, who helps them get into Hogwarts through a painting by summoning Neville Longbottom, who has been organizing meetings of Dumbledore’s Army in the hidden Room of Requirement. Harry asks the members of the D.A., who are all his supporters, if they can think of an important item associated with the school, hoping such an item might be the final Horcrux. The Ravenclaw students tell him about the lost diadem of Ravenclaw.
While Harry looks for the diadem, the professors and students of Hogwarts rally to his defense, having been warned that Voldemort is on his way. Voldemort and his followers attack the school in a great battle, and Harry finds and destroys the diadem Horcrux.
Harry witnesses Voldemort murdering Snape in order to take possession of Dumbledore’s powerful wand (since Snape killed Dumbledore, Snape is presumably the wand’s true master until someone kills him). Before he dies, Snape gives Harry his memories, extracted for viewing in the Pensieve.
Harry goes to the Pensieve in the headmaster’s office and views the most important moments of Snape’s life. He learns that he has been completely mistaken about Snape, who loved Harry’s mother, Lily Potter, his whole life. Snape had spent his entire adult life spying on Voldemort for Dumbledore and working to protect Harry.
From one of Snape’s conversations with Dumbledore, Harry learns that there’s a piece of Voldemort’s soul inside him (Harry is in fact the final Horcrux), and that he will have to let Voldemort kill him before Voldemort can die. He goes into the forest and lets Voldemort kill him, then wakes up in a dreamlike version of King’s Cross train station, where Dumbledore meets him and tells him that he hasn’t died, and that the protective charm Lily Potter placed on Harry is kept alive inside of Voldemort, because Voldemort used Harry’s blood to reconstitute himself. Thus, Voldemort could not kill Harry, and Harry can now go back and finish him off.
Voldemort takes Harry, whom he believes to be dead, back to Hogwarts to demand its surrender. The students and teachers defy Voldemort, and Neville uses the Sword of Gryffindor to kill the giant snake, Nagini, which was the last Horcrux keeping Voldemort invulnerable. A final battle erupts, and Harry reveals that he’s still alive, going on to kill Voldemort in a duel.
In an Epilogue set nineteen years later, Harry is married to Ginny and is sending their children to Hogwarts. Ron and Hermione are married, and their families are both thriving.


Telephone Conversation and dedication

Telephone Conversation and dedication 
BY: Wole Soyinka


Plot Summary:

Humanity has an innate awareness of differences between individuals. Our senses easily recognize differences between male and female, old and young, black and white. Our ability to communicate suffers encumbrance when focusing too strongly on our differences. Wole Soyinka, in his poem “Telephone Conversation,” demonstrates how racism deteriorates communication through the dialog occurring between the primary characters. Soyinka uses racism to show the audience how detrimental preconceived notions are to communication.

The central conflict of this story is between the caller (the protagonist) and racism he experiences at the hands of the property owner (the antagonist). The struggle begins when the main character, being satisfied with some of the incidentals, confesses his African descent. The caller’s admission changes the focus and direction of the conversation, and begins to create a gulf between their cohesive form as lessee and lessor. In addition, the disclosure exposes his fear of judgment on the merit of race. Complicating the conflict, and confirming the protagonist’s fears, is the smug response given by the owner when she asks him “Are you light or very dark.” This question reveals the landlady as a stereotypical racist of the time and compounds the narrative’s tension. In addition, the caller feels shamed by having to diagnose his color saturation. The crescendo of the tale arrives after the prospective renter has had enough of the condescending inquisition. He begins to catalog the various colors of certain body parts, mockingly entertaining the prejudices of the owner, which shifts the offensiveness of the conversation to the antagonist. In addition, the protagonist’s rapid-fire catalog of parts, ending with his backside, displays a new confidence as he determines the call is about over. Unfortunately, an amicable resolution between the two characters is unobtainable, and the property owner, does in fact, hang up. The caller has not procured an apartment, but has confirmed his fear of discrimination. Avoiding a futile trip is the only redeeming quality of his conversation with the landlord.

Communication between two individuals can be difficult even when cultural and racial bias does not factor into the dialog. Even basic challenges can exist that prevent communication of ideas and thoughts. Soyinka, in this “telephone conversation” reminds us that when people allow preconceived notions to influence their ability to converse and interact, they impede our opportunity to benefit from each other. He illustrates through this poem the detrimental affects of racism and assumption, which prevent mutual advantage: the main character was not able to procure a place of residency, and the property-owner did not get her benefit – monthly rent money.


REFUGEE MOTHER AND CHILD (A Poem)


REFUGEE MOTHER AND CHILD (A Poem)
By: Chinua Achebe

The Mother has always held a supreme position in all religions. In Islam, she holds the first and second places. In Hinduism, the Mother and Motherland are deemed greater than heaven. In Christianity, the privilege of “giving birth divinely” was also handed over to a woman.The image of Madonna with her child is supposed to be the highest paradigm of motherhood one can envisage . Here, Chinua Achebe states that even that image could not surpass the picture of a mother expressing tenderness for a son, she would soon have to forget. It is the most poignant picture one’s imagination and memory can ever record.Chinua Achebe’s poem is titled “Refugee Mother and Child”. The adjective ‘refugee’ has different meanings in this context. One, the mother in question may be a refugee. Besides, one who flees from danger, and is in a secure and protective circle is also called a ‘refugee’. In this regard, the baby is a refugee, and his refuge is his mother’s womb till he comes out to this cruel world. Another interpretation would be the mother finding refuge from the reality of the death of her son in a make-believe world.

The air held a nausea of unwashed children with traces of diarrhea,and the stench of the emanations post–delivery. The rawness of the struggle to attain motherhood is depicted as the poet states:

The air was heavy with odors of diarrhea of unwashed children with washed-out ribs and dried-up bottoms struggling in labored steps behind blown empty bellies.

Mothers there had long ceased to care, as the poignancy of the situation of the refugees had reached their saturation point. But this one still held her own. She donned a ghost smile. The situation is scary because the new-born is dead and the smile seems ghastly. The term ‘ghost smile’ may also imply that the lady held a ‘ghost’ of a smile that once was real. Now that the genuine reason for the smile is lost, it may be termed as a ‘ghost of a smile.’ Her eyes also looked super-focussed as it held the ghost of a mother’s pride. She combs ,with maternal affection, the hair on his ‘skull’. Note that it is ‘skull’ and not ‘head’ as the baby is impoverished, and dead. Her eyes appeared to sing a lullaby, as she parts the son’s hair. In an otherwise situation, this act would be of little consequence; another everyday affair before breakfast or school. Here, however, it happens to stand for the last display of maternal affection and is therefore equivalent to “putting flowers on a tiny grave.”



Mystic Drum

                                                                  Mystic Drum
By: Gabriel Okara

  The Mystic Drum is Okara’s love lyric. The Mystic Drum evinces a tripartite ritual pattern of imitation from innocence through intimacy to experience. By comparison to the way of zone as manifested in the experience of Zen master, Chin Yuan Wei-Asian this pattern resolves itself into an emotional and epistemic logical journey from conventional knowledge through more intimate knowledge to learn of experience empowers the lover to understand that beneath the surface attractiveness of what we know very well may lie an abyss of the unknown and unknowable belching darkness. But experience teaches us at this stage of substantial knowledge not to expose ourselves to the dangers of being beholden to this unknown and unknowable reality by keeping our passions under strict control including the prudent decision to ‘pack’ the ‘Mystic Drum’ of our innocence and evanescence making sure that it does not ‘beat so loud anymore’.
          Okara mentions in one of his interviews that “The Mystic Drum” is essentially a have poem:
          “This was a lady I loved and she coyly was not responding directly but, I adored her. Her demeanor seemed to mask her true feelings; at a distance, she seemed adoring however on coming closer, she was after all, not what she seemed.”
          This lady may stand as an emblem that represents the lure of western life; how it seemed appealing at first but later seemed distasteful to the poet.

The Mystic Drum and Lines:-
      “The mystic drum beat in my inside
          and fishes danced in the rivers
          and men and women danced on land
          to the rhythm of my drum
“But standing behind a tree
               with leaves around her waist
              she only smiled with a shake of her head.”

 “The drum in African poems generally stands for the spiritual pulse of traditional African life. The poet asserts that first as the drum beat inside him fishes danced in the rivers and man and women danced on the land to the rhythm of the drum. But standing behind the tree there stood an outsider who smiled with an air of indifference at the richness of their culture; however the drum still continued to beat rippling the air with quickened tempo compelling the dead to dance and sing with their shadows. The ancestral glory overpowers other considerations: so powerful is the Mystic drum, that it brings back even the dead alive. The rhythm of the drum is the aching for an ideal Nigerian state of harmony.
          The outsider is used in the poem for western imperialism that was looked down upon anything Eastern, non-western, alien and therefore incomprehensible for their own good as the other.
          The African culture is so much in tune with nature that the Mystic drum invokes the sun, the moon, the river gods and the trees began to dance. The gap finally gets bridged between humanity and nature, the animal world and human world, the hydrosphere and lithosphere that fishes turned men, and men became fishes. But later as the Mystic drum stopped beating, men became men, and fishes became fishes. Life now became dry, logical and mechanical thanks to western scientific imperialism and everything found its place. Leaves started sprouting on the woman she started to flourish on the land. Gradually her roots struck the ground. Spreading a kind of parched rationalism smoke issued from her lips and her lips parted in smile. The term ‘smoke’ is also suggestive of the pollution caused by industrialization and also the clouding of morals ultimately the speaker was left in belching darkness, completely cut off from the heart of his culture and he packed the Mystic drum not to beat loudly anymore. The ‘belching darkness’ alludes to the futility and hollowness the imposed existence. The outside at first only has an objective role standing behind a tree. Eventually, she intrudes and tries to behave their spiritual life. The leaves around her waist are very much suggestive of eve who adorned the same after losing her innocence. Leaves stop growing on the trees but only sprout on her head implying deforestation. The refrain reminds us again and again that this Eve turns out to be the eve of Nigerian damnation.


“Were I to Choose”


 “Were I to Choose”
By: Gabriel Okara’s

Poetry Analysis:
Gabriel Okara, a Nigerian poet, is immersed in folk-tradition and ballad. One can discern influences of native tradition and English romantic tradition and he often tries to create a synthesis between the two. He often utilizes ‘transliteration’ and thereby renders his poems regional, yet universal. His poems are often marked for their lyrical musicality.
Gabriel Okara’s “Were I to Choose” is reminiscent of Yeats’ “Adam’s Curse.” Adam toiling in the soil can be compared to the Negros working in the soil. They broke the stone themselves which was their very foundation. The red streams are symbolic of the multilingual diversity that reaches the womb Africa.
Cain metaphorically represents the next generation. ‘I’ in Okara’s poems generally refers to the tribe. The poet implies that he is currently imprisoned in the present generation and its identity crisis. The earlier generation’s gaze would not go beyond; but his does and to him, the world is looked at from the brink. Written in 1950s, the period of Nigerian Independence, the poet sees his ancestors-their slavery, their groping lips and the breasts muted by heart-rending suffering. His vision goes outside and backwards. The memory is like a thread going through his ears.
Cain was a wanderer, who if caught by anybody, would be definitely slain. Similar is the case of the modern uneducated man who does not possess any aim. At the turn of 31 years, the poet is multi-lingual and he wonders what should be the medium of his instruction. The tower of Babel symbolizes unity. During the construction of the Tower of Babel, God cursed the people concerned. The people wanted to build a great tower signifying oneness, and around it people would stand united. They wanted to speak the same language but God despised the very fact .There now remains no proper foundation, or structure and his world has deteriorated to a ‘world of bones’.
He wants free himself from the imprisonment of this dark halo(a halo generally considered ‘blessed’ seems dark to the poet).His conflict is not being able to choose from the different languages. He is torn
Between different worlds. The poet likens his predicament with the Harmattan, a parching wind mingling with dust during the period of Dec-Feb in Nigeria. The throat is dry and he is unable to speak out. He is delirious as the flames of torture are burning his existence. The colonial period has made him an amalgam of European and African cultures, and now he finds himself in a no man’s land. He relishes the idea of resolving the crisis by seeking refuge in the silence of the grave. In such a context, he would be even cheating the worms as he would enjoy the state of affairs.


Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time
By: Gabriel Okara

Summary
The poem “Once Upon A Time” written by Gabriel Okara illustrates the changes a father has seen in him throughout his life which have been influenced by the way society has changed.
In the first stanza, at the start of the poem Okara writes “they used to laugh with their hearts and… eyes; but now they only laugh with their teeth while their ice-block cold eyes search behind my shadow.” This phrase illustrates the change in the way people act showing that their laughs used to be genuine and heartfelt however now their attitudes have changed. The description of “laugh with their teeth” illustrates someone showing false interest. The dark imagery “ice-block cold eyes” which follows shows that there is no emotion or feeling in the action.
In the next stanza Okara describes how “they used to shake hands with their hearts” implying that the actions were genuine and were also symbolic of good intentions however “Now they shake hands without hearts while their left hands search my empty pockets.” This phrase illustrates that all good intentions have gone and how now it is every man for him. Everybody is only focusing on their own personal gain. The use of a metaphor emphasises how there is a lack of trust as everybody is trying to use each other.
The phrase “empty pockets” could connote that he has been stripped of all genuine happiness and has been left feeling empty and alone.
In the next stanza,Okara shows the change in him as a man. “And I have learned, too,… to say ‘Goodbye’, when I mean ‘Good-riddance”. Here there is an evident shift in the stanza due to the fact that he is now talking about himself and how he too has learned to be false. This could imply that society has pressured him into changing in a negative way.
At the end of the poem Okara confesses “I want to be what I used to be” showing instant regret and sadness at the choices he previously made. This piece of dialogue could suggest that he can only be himself around his son as he recognises his younger self in his son, the self that was genuine and true, which had not yet been beaten down by society.


“New York”


“New York”
By: Leopold Sedar Senghor’s

Poetry Analysis:

New York is the commercial capital of America. Therefore it stands an emblem of financial stability and exponential growth. The poet Leopold Sedar Senghor exclaims that at first the beauty of New York held him spell-bound as it was superficial. It was limited to physicality of the “great long-legged golden girls.” The poet appears to be timid at the first sight of the City of Skyscrapers. Firstly, owing to his inferiority complex as the city held him in awe. Secondly, he could not confront the “blue metallic eyes”.
The adjective “metallic” has various connotations here. The term may refer to the lifelessness of the eyes. It may also allude to the nerve of steel. Furthermore, it points to the frigidity of the eyes. The phrase “frosty smile” appears to be a simile from a consumer society. The poet refers to the depth of the skyscrapers, when he should be talking about the height of the same. The line “lifting up owl eyes in the sun’s eclipse” reveals how the warmth of life is denied to them. The adjective “sulphurous” indicates pollution.
The skyscrapers seem to defy ‘cyclones’ as if challenging the very notion of God. The stone of the skyscrapers has weathered well against the climatic conditions. The sidewalks of Manhattan seem bald as compared to the grassy areas of nature. There are wells and pastures. All the birds seem to limit themselves to terraces. Nothing is deemed innocent here in this pretentious sophistication, pseudo-modern existence. No child’s laughter is to be heard, no mother suckling her baby. Only “legs in nylon” and “breasts with no sweat and smell.” In a consumer society, mouths are lipless due to lack of genuine expression and communication; what ultimately matters is profit and gain. Hard cash buys even love as people confine themselves to mercantilism.
No books are to be found that impart wisdom, as people are reluctant to part with wisdom too. The poet goes out to criticize European art asserting that the painter’s palette is filled with crystals of coral. The nights in Manhattan are characterized by insomnia. People give in to their impulsive needs. The term ‘hygienic loves’ refer to contraceptives, as they floated in the dark waters. The sanctity of love is treated as sewage.
The poet warns the superficial world to pay attention to the heeding of God-“signs and reckonings.” In Apoc., ii, 17, manna symbolizes the happiness of heaven. It is with hyssop that the blood of a bird offered in sacrifice is to be sprinkled for the cleansing of a man or a house affected with leprosy. Senghor states that it was high time for manna and hyssop, the time for heavenly purity to descend on earth. The poet entreats with them to listen to the heart beating to the rhythm of one’s own blood, thereby making a distinction between the self and the conscious. The poet sees Harlem humming with sounds, solemn color and flamboyant smells. The three sensory perceptions are subject to artificial stimulations. This is the only interval to the man delivering pharmaceutical products. The pseudo-artificial products come into focus. The night holds more truth as compared to the day. The true colour of all things come to the fore .It is the purest form that sets life germinating before memory. All the amphibious elements-those pertaining to water and land are shining the suns.
Harlem is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, which since the 1920s has been a major African-American residential, cultural, and business center. The term “Harlem” refers to the Amalgamation of African-American life as it was expressed, and as it stood for. Therefore the “corn springing from the pavements” represent the marriage of Africa and America, of nature and sophistication It stands for the assimilation of the ‘white rum” and “black milk.”The masks adorned are “fabulous masks” as one cannot tell apart the African from the American.”


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Things Fall Apart


Things Fall Apart
By: Chinua Achebe



Summary

The bulk of the novel takes place in Umuofia, a cluster of nine villages on the lower Niger. Umuofia is a powerful clan, skilled in war and with a great population, with proud traditions and advanced social institutions.
Okonkwo has risen from nothing to a high position. Through hard work, he has become a great man among his people. He has taken three wives and his barn is full of yams, the staple crop. He rules his family with an iron fist.
One day, a neighboring clan commits an offense against Umuofia. To avoid war, the offending clan gives Umuofia one virgin and one young boy. The girl is to become the offended party's new wife. The boy, whose name is Ikemefuna, is to be sacrificed, but not immediately. He lives in Umuofia for three years, and during that time he lives under Okonkwo's roof. He becomes like a part of Okonkwo's family. In particular, Nwoye, Okonkwo's oldest son, loves Ikemefuna like a brother. But eventually the Oracle calls for the boy's death, and a group of men take Ikemefuna away to kill him in the forest. Okonkwo, fearful of being perceived as soft-hearted and weak, participates in the boy's death. He does so despite the advice of the clan elders. Nwoye is spiritually broken by the event.
Okonkwo is shaken as well, but he continues with his drive to become a lord of his clan. He is constantly disappointed by Nwoye, but he has great love for his daughter Ezinma, his child by his second wife Ekwefi. Ekwefi has born ten children, but only Ezinma has survived. She loves the girl fiercely. Ezinma is sickly, and sometimes Ekwefi fears that Ezinma, too, will die. Late one night, the powerful Oracle of Umuofia brings Ezinma with her for a spiritual encounter with the earth goddess. Terrified, Ekwefi follows the Oracle at a distance, fearing harm might come to her child. Okonkwo follows, too.
Later, during a funeral for one of the great men of the clan, Okonkwo's gun explodes, killing a boy. In accordance with Umuofia's law, Okonkwo and his family must be exiled for seven years.
Okonkwo bears the exile bitterly. Central to his beliefs is faith that a man masters his own destiny. But the accident and exile are proof that at times man cannot control his own fate, and Okonkwo is forced to start over again without the strength and energy of his youth. He flees with his family to Mbanto, his mother's homeland. There they are received by his mother's family, who treat them generously. His mother's family is headed by Uchendu, Okonkwo's uncle, a generous and wise old man.
During Okonkwo's exile, the white man comes to both Umuofia and Mbanto. The missionaries arrive first, preaching a religion that seems mad to the Igbo people. They win converts, but generally the converts are men of low rank or outcasts. However, with time, the new religion gains momentum. Nwoye becomes a convert. When Okonkwo learns of Nwoye's conversion, he beats the boy. Nwoye leaves home.
Okonkwo returns to Umuofia to find the clan sadly changed. The church has won some converts, some of whom are fanatical and disrespectful of clan custom. Worse, the white man's government has come to Umuofia. The clan is no longer free to judge its own; a District Commissioner judges cases in ignorance. He is backed by armed power.
During a religious gathering, a convert unmasks one of the clan spirits. The offense is grave, and in response the clan decides that the church will no longer be allowed in Umuofia. They tear the building down. Soon afterward, the District Commissioner asks the leaders of the clan, Okonkwo among them, to come see him for a peaceful meeting. The leaders arrive, and are quickly seized. In prison, they are humiliated and beaten, and they are held until the clan pays a heavy fine.
After a release of the men, the clan calls a meeting to decide whether they will fight or try to live peacefully with the whites. Okonkwo wants war. During the meeting, court messengers come to order the men to break up their gathering. The clan meetings are the heart of Umuofia's government; all decisions are reached democratically, and an interference with this institution means the end of the last vestiges of Umuofia's independence. Enraged, Okonkwo kills the court messenger. The other court messengers escape, and because the other people of his clan did not seize them, Okonkwo knows that his people will not choose war. His act of resistance will not be followed by others. Embittered and grieving for the destruction of his people's independence, and fearing the humiliation of dying under white law, Okonkwo returns home and hangs himself.


Waiting for the Barbarians


Waiting for the Barbarians
By: J.M. Coetzee


Plot:

The story is narrated in the first person by the unnamed magistrate of a small colonial town that exists as the territorial frontier of "the Empire". The Magistrate's rather peaceful existence comes to an end with the Empire's declaration of a state of emergency and with the deployment of the Third Bureau—special forces of the Empire—due to rumours that the area's indigenous people, called "barbarians" by the colonists, might be preparing to attack the town. Consequently, the Third Bureau conducts an expedition into the land beyond the frontier. Led by a sinister Colonel Joll, the Third Bureau captures a number of barbarians, brings them back to town, tortures them, kills some of them, and leaves for the capital in order to prepare a larger campaign.

In the meantime, the Magistrate begins to question the legitimacy of imperialism and personally nurses a barbarian girl who was left crippled and partly blinded by the Third Bureau's torturers. The Magistrate has an intimate yet uncertain relationship with the girl. Eventually, he decides to take her back to her people. After a life-threatening trip through the barren land, during which they have sex, he succeeds in returning her—finally asking, to no avail, if she will stay with him—and returns to his own town. The Third Bureau soldiers have reappeared there and now arrest the Magistrate for having deserted his post and consorting with "the enemy". Without much possibility of a trial during such emergency circumstances, the Magistrate remains in a locked cellar for an indefinite period, experiencing for the first time a near-complete lack of basic freedoms. He finally acquires a key that allows him to leave the makeshift jail, but finds that he has no place to escape to and only spends his time outside the jail scavenging for scraps of food.

Later, Colonel Joll triumphantly returns from the wilderness with several barbarian captives and makes a public spectacle of their torture. Although the crowd is encouraged to participate in their beatings, the Magistrate bursts onto the scene to stop it, but is subdued. Taking the Magistrate, a group of soldiers hangs him up by his arms, culminating his understanding of imperialistic violence in a personal experience of torture. With the Magistrate's spirit clearly crushed, the soldiers mockingly let him roam freely through the town, knowing he has nowhere to go and no longer poses a threat to their mission. The soldiers, however, begin to flee the town as winter approaches and their campaign against the barbarians collapses. The Magistrate tries to confront Joll on his final return from the wild, but the colonel refuses to speak to him, hastily abandoning the town with the last of the soldiers. The predominant belief in the town is that the barbarians intend to invade soon, and although the soldiers and many civilians have now departed, the Magistrate helps encourage the remaining townspeople to continue their lives and to prepare for the winter. There is no sign of the barbarians by the time the season's first snow falls on the town.


A Grain of Wheat

A Grain of Wheat
By: Ngugi wa Thiong'o

A Grain of Wheat Summary

The events of the novel take place in the days of 1963 before and on the day of Uhuru, Kenya’s liberation from British colonial rule. The novel also features flashbacks of the past.
Mugo, an introverted villager of Thabai, does not want to give a speech at Uhuru, even though town elders ask him to. The village thinks him a hero for his stoicism and courage while he was in detention during Kenya’s State of Emergency, but he labors under a secret: he betrayed their beloved Mau Mau fighter, Kihika. He is restless and can achieve no peace in the village.
Kihika had joined the Mau Mau as a young man and attained fame for capturing the police garrison at Mahee and killing the cruel District Officer (‘DO’) Robson, but after Mugo betrayed him in secret, he was captured and hanged. Those planning Uhuru want to honor him. Mugo had betrayed Kihika because he was unsettled by the young man’s zeal and because of the reward offered for his head, but as soon as he betrayed him he felt remorse. Most people, including General R. and Koina, two Mau Mau soldiers, believe Karanja was the one who betrayed Kihika. They plan on executing him at Uhuru.
Mugo was not the only man from Thabai who spent time in detention camp. Gikonyo, a well-respected businessman and former carpenter, was also taken to a camp. Before the camp he was very much in love with his beautiful wife Mumbi, the sister of Kihika. He had won her love even though many, including Karanja, a friend of Kihika, sought her love as well. He dreamt of her while he was away, and was horrified to find out that Mumbi had borne a child by Karanja while he was gone those years. He does not believe they can ever repair their relationship, and he throws himself into his work.
Karanja works at Githima, a Forest Research Station started by the British. He tries to cultivate the approval of the DO, Roger Thompson, who is stationed there with his wife Margery. Thompson was once destined for an illustrious career, but it was derailed by a hunger strike and violence at Rira, the camp where Mugo was. Now Thompson is at Githima, but is preparing to return to Britain because he does not want to be around when whites are no longer in charge. Karanja did not join the freedom movement but rather started to work for the whiteman, first joining the homeguard and then becoming Chief during the Emergency. This incurred a lot of resentment from people; however, Karanja was simply looking out for himself.
Mumbi, distressed that her husband no longer loves her, comes to see Mugo. She confides in him the story of how she and Gikonyo fell in love, and how sad she was when he was away in camp. She only fell for Karanja’s advances when she heard Gikonyo was returning and became deliriously happy. She begs Mugo to come to Uhuru; on a second visit to him, she begs him again. Mugo becomes violent and says he betrayed Kihika. Mumbi is shocked, but she does not want any more blood shed for her brother.
Uhuru arrives, the day first rainy and then sunny. People are joyful and all of them want to see Mugo, even though he has said he is not coming. There are games and speeches. There is also a spontaneous race, and Gikonyo and Karanja find themselves competing with each other (much as they competed in a race for Mumbi’s attention long ago). They stumble, though, and Gikonyo breaks his arm and has to go to the hospital.
General R. gives a speech instead of Mugo and calls for the traitor to step forward, assuming it will be Karanja. Mugo comes out of the crowd and says it is he who did it; he feels a sense of freedom at first, quickly followed by terror. No one accosts him, and the confused crowd parts and lets him go.
Later, General R. and Koina come to arrest him and tell him he will have a private trial. Mugo makes peace with this, deciding he will accept his punishment.
Some of the village elders feel that Uhuru did not go well, and that there is something wrong.
Karanja heads back to Githima. He is unhappy and considers killing himself in front of a train. Ultimately, he decides against this.
Gikonyo wakes in the hospital and finds himself ready to make amends with Mumbi. When she visits him, he tells her he is ready to speak of the child he has assiduously ignored since he came back. She tells him it must wait until they can have a serious and heartfelt discussion of their wants and needs. He is happy, and plans to carve a stool featuring an image of a pregnant Mumbi.


The Swamp Dwellers


The Swamp Dwellers
By: Wole Soyinka

About Play

The Swamp Dwellers is a novel written by Soyinka in which he has depicted the real picture of two sides of Modernity vs. tradition. The play is about Yoruba culture in which Makuri and Alu they are living and waiting for their son whose name is Awuchike. Soyinka has presented Yoruba culture which is full of swamp because of food in the village. And they are suffering because of plenty of water and Beggar who comes from Bhukanji and over there they were suffering because of scarcity of water.
Play starts with the description of village which shows traditional side of the play.“A village in the swamps. Frogs rain and other noises. The scan is a hut on stilts, built on one of the scattered semifirm island in the swamp. The walls are marsh stakes plaited with hump ropes. Near the left down stage are the baskets he makes from the rushes which are strewn in front of him.”
These all lines show that they are traditional people doing work but which can’t give them food. At some extent tradition is good because you have your own belief and way of looking towards life but not accepting change in life is bad. Too much exaggeration is bad for your life which is shown through the play. Igwezu went into city to earn more in life but he can’t accept the reality of life which is in city. There is starvation for shelter in city, so cold sophisticated life than village so we can say that Igwezu and Awuchike both are suffering because of their acceptance or to much exaggeration of their life. There is Constance struggle or conflict between the old and new ways of life in Africa. There is the dialogue that old and children are living in village. It means that yougs are living in city.

Focuses on the struggles between the old and the new ways of life in Africa:

The play is about struggle between human being and the unfavorable force of the Nature. Use of River, Serpent, Swamp and use of city life these are polar oppositions in the play. From the beginning of the play they are talking about death of his son but clearly mention that really he is dead or not. Swamp is chaotic and they are living in the chaos.
The Swamp Dwellers focuses on the struggle between the old and the new ways of life in Africa. It also gives us a picture of the cohesion that existed between the individual and southern Nigerian society. The conflict between tradition and modernity is also reflected in the play. The play mirrors the socio-cultural pattern, the pang and the sufferings of the swamp dwellers and underlines the need for absorbing new ideas. The struggle between human beings and unfavourable forces of nature is also captured in the play. Soyinka presents us the picture of modern Africa where the wind of change started blowing.
 The Swamp Dwellers is a close study of the pattern of life in the isolated hamlets of the African countryside as well as an existential study of the simple folk who face rigours of life without any hope or succour. Soyinka tears apart social injustice, hypocrisy and tyranny. The Swamp Dwellers expresses the necessity for a balance between the old and the new. Soyinka is not for excessive glorification of the past. In the play we see Soyinka’s crusade against authoritarianism, complacency and self delusion. Besides, in The Swamp Dwellers Soyinka satirises the betrayal of vocation for the attraction and power in one form or another.