IJMB Literature Question and Answers 2022
IJMB LITERATURE INSTRUCTION
Answer Question ONE from Section A and One Question Each From Section B and C.
Samuel Selvon in his The Lonely Londoners (1956) draws very much on his own experience. In the novel, he repeatedly points out how segregated London is becoming. As Hiro documents, the situation escalates in the 1960s when not only are signs reading “No blacks, No Irish, No dogs” part of local folklore, but new signs such as “Europeans Only” or “Keep the water clean” appear.
As an act resulting from the traumatic despair at the white public prejudice that blacks are spoiling the water, one character, Big City, turns the logic upside down and proclaims an alternative motto, “Keep the water coloured, no rooms for whites”. The motif of blacks representing a threat to mainstream white society permeates the story.
Selvon depicts the blacks in London and as Bentley argues, “this process inevitably involves the negotiation of pre-conceived images of black identity and practices that reproduce, rather than challenge, many of the stereotypes present in mainstream white culture”.
The negotiation process here is an opportunity for blacks to persuade whites of their merits and of the benefits which they can contribute to white British society. As Sy emphasizes, “life in London is a perpetual struggle for sheer survival for the several emigrants who reach England in the same ship. None really succeeds; some flop utterly, while many wear out in the struggle”.
However, as nobody wants to listen to the black immigrants, their activities are doomed to fail and it becomes more and more clear that they will continue to play only a secondary role at the margins of British society. The migrants in their desperate housing situation seek refuge in the areas of Bayswater and Notting Hill and along the Edgware Road in very bad conditions.
Selvon describes them thus, “the houses around the Harrow Road, old and gray and weather beaten, the walls cracking like the last days of Pompei, it ain’t have no hot water, and in the whole street that Tolroy and them living in, no of the houses have bath”.
Moreover, not only are the houses dilapidated but also the street itself is in bad condition. Such living conditions might be even worse than those that the immigrants had back home in the Caribbean. Selvon describes, “some of the houses still had gas light, which is to tell you how old they was… The street does be always dirty except if rain fall”.
The gap between the black and the white, thus the trauma of not belonging experienced on an everyday basis, becomes more apparent when compared to the housing situation of the whites.
Although the situation of the Caribbean immigrants might seem very desperate, they do not give up. They fight and find various means of surviving even under the harshest circumstances. Rebecca Dyer postulates that “Selvon’s portrayal of London and of black migrant characters’ urban survival methods illustrate the everyday adjustments and improvisations that were necessary for his generation of colonial migrants”.
It is remarkable that it isn’t Caribbean women who come first to earn a living in Britain but rather men that try to adjust to the British way of life and are not opposed to assimilation.
The new student
The writer is trying to reveal the challenges one may face as a new student.
(i) Friendless: having no friends and no one to help you
(ii) Avant-garde strange world: innovative or experimental concepts of the world
(iii) Impediment: a hindrance or obstruction in doing something
(iv) Cozy: giving a feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation.
(v) Awkward: causing difficulty or hard to do or deal with.
(vi) As fat as a whale: an extremely overweight person
(vii) In the safety of my bed: being protected from complicated situations
The figure of speech used is a simile
A newborn baby doesn’t realise they are a separate person.
Ousmane’s Xala, employs ritual archetypes as an aesthetic medium for exploring the social physiognomy of the age of imperialism and at the same time provides a dialectical praxis against the manifest bourgeois culture.
Ousmane’s forte as an artist is the skilful blending and utilization of various cultural motifs within a cosmic functionalist framework, which thus imposes on his creativity the capability of re-ordering the social morass engulfing his social universe. As a revolutionary artist, he perceives culture as a dynamic literary medium because to him “it is nowadays possible to link culture to economic development.
Xala can be experienced by any man, rich or poor. It can occur as a result of aggressive jealousy or rivalry; it can be the consequence of vice or something else. Xala which sets the aesthetic unity and dramatic centrality of the novel clothes a variety of contents. The novel derives its force from an assemblage of cultural motifs in the form of marriage customs, sex relationships and religion.
The didactic strength of the artist’s vision is linked with these ritualistic archetypal subjects, the category which Bodkin regards as “imaginative achievements, having potential social value through influence over group attitudes toward the unknown forces of reality.” Functionalism attempts the explanation of ritual behaviour in relationship to the needs and maintenance of the society to effect social equilibrium.
The rituals that accompany these cultural values are therefore symbolic expressions of actual social relations, status, or the social role of individuals. Because rituals refer to a transcendent numinous and ultimate values of a community, they give socio-mythical affirmations to people’s universe and their cosmological sphere of influence.
Ousmane’s interpretations of “xala” provide a phallic symbol and in a mythologic philosophic conception, this embraces the ideas of fertility, generative force in nature, birth and seasonal variagations. This symbolism is perverted and the exposition of the intense libido in the central figure, Hadji Beye, produces reciprocal unconscious or conscious physical desires, analogous to a cupidity for social and materialistic stiumulations.
The conflict of Hadji Beye, emanates from such impulsive desires and egoism. All this, to borrow from Bodkin, produces “the senses of guilt which haunts the child whose emerging self-will drives him into collision with his parents. The analogical inference is that of an individual whose egoism forces him against the social and communal will. The phallic impotency central to the conflict in Xala is a metonymic language of the paralysis of the individual and the social totality.