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ANALYSIS OF ADICHE’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN AND OKPEWHO’S THE LAST DUTY

ANALYSIS OF ADICHE’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN AND OKPEWHO’S THE LAST DUTY

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ANALYSIS OF ADICHE’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN

The text takes place in Nigeria prior to and during the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970). The effect of the war is shown through the dynamic relationships of five people’s lives including twin daughters of an influential business man, a professor, a British citizen and a houseboy. After Biafra’s declaration of the civil war and decisions in their personal lives, Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun swings back and forth between the early 1960’s Nigeria, and the Southern Region affected by the breakout of the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War in the late 1960s.

ANALYSIS OF ADICHE’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN AND OKPEWHO’S THE LAST DUTY

It is told through the intertwining perspective of three characters; Ugwu, a poor village boy who gets a job as a houseboy for Odenigbo, a University professor; Olanna, a privilege woman from Lagos (educated in London), who leaves her lush life behind and moves in with Odenigbo; and Richard, an English Journalist (in a relationship with Olanna’s twin sister, Kaneine) who receives a privilege to write a novel about Nigeria (382).

Life takes these three main characters to Nsukka, in the south into what will become the heart of the Nigerian Civil War. Adichie digs into the political conflict caused by the attempted secession of the Southeastern provinces of Nigeria (populated by the Igbo ethnic group) as the self-proclaimed Republic of Biafra.

The text uses the economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions among the various people of Nigeria and draws out the emotional and psychological consequences of the conflict to construct a multidimensional version of the Nigerian Civil War. The text also jumps between events that took place and extends until the end of the war.

In the early 1960’s, the main characters such as Ugwu, a 13-years old village boy moves in with Odenigbo, to work as his houseboy. Odenigbo frequently entertains intellectuals to discuss the political turmoil in Nigeria. Life changes for Ogwu when Odenigbo’s girlfriend, Olanna, moves in with them. Ugwu forms a strong bond with both of them and is very loyal. Olanna has a twin sister Kainena a woman with dry sense of humour, tired by the pompous company she runs for her father. Her lover Richard is an English man who has come to Nigeria to explore Igbo-Ukwu art (223).

Jumping four years ahead, trouble is brewing between the Hausa and the Igbo people and hundreds of people die in massacres, including Olanna’s beloved aunty and uncle. A new republic called Biafra is created by the Igbo. There are also allusions to a conflict between Olanna and Kainena, Richard and Kainene and Olanna and Odenigbo.

In the earlier part of the text, the intellectual community of Nsukka expressed their ideas throughout a string of dinner parties at Odenigbo’s house. In one instance, the host passionately exclaims:

The defence pact is worse than apartheid and segregation, but we don’t realize it. They are controlling us from behind drawn curtain. It is very dangerous! (45).

ANALYSIS OF ADICHE’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN AND OKPEWHO’S THE LAST DUTY

Adichie unravels the realities of war, beginning with the physical and literal before going into the psychological and emotional facts. She frames the explosion of the North-South conflict as a pivotal movement that does not just offer historical context but functions as a stepping stone into the psychological and emotional effects of war on individuals, relationships, ethnic groups and the nation as a whole.

The text is an expression of polyphony in the Nigerian Civil War. Adichie goes beyond historical research and travels deep into the roots of the conflict, into the injustice, violence and pains of war; the irrelevance of humanity amidst these conditions.

Adichie trespasses the boundary of the historical recount of events by interweaving human aspects, turning on multiple microphones for each of these voices to be heard. The thematic of war opens up into the bigger theme of humanity where it is vividly seen of characters struggling with issues of love, class, race, profession and family.

The pendulum movement of the narratives is most effective as it becomes a device which draws parallels and creates contrasts, which imply the physical, mental and emotional changes the characters endure. There are cruel moments that transport the reader directly to the fighting grounds. For instance, when Olanna is caught in the north visiting a friend when the first Igbo killings began and barely makes it out alive to the south:

A liquid-urine was spreading on the floor of the train. Olanna felt it coldly soaking into her dress. The woman with the calabash midged her, then mentioned to some other people close by. Bianu come, she said, “come and takes a look”. She opened the calabash… Olanna looked into the bowl, she saw the little girl’s head with the ashy-grey skin and the plaited hair and rolled-back eyes, and opened mouth. She stared at it for a while, she looked away, somebody screamed. (188)

This is where a grieving mother shows Olanna and other passengers what is inside the calabash she carries: the ashen, severed head of her daughter, showing the pains of war on a loving mother.

Adichie also uses the text to depict the malfunctioning and ill-policies of the colonial masters on African soil, as well as the low mentality of the whites towards blacks in Africa.

According to Odenigbo:

They will teach you that a white man called Mungo Park discovered River Niger. That is rubbish. Our people fished in the River Niger long before Mungo Park (13).

Here Odenigbo expresses his discontent with the colonial history that he knows Ogwu will be taught in school. He advises Ugwu as to what he must write to do well in school, but also wants to make sure that he passes on the history of Nigeria, not the history that the British colonist has written into books.

The aforementioned quote epitomizes Odenigbo’s frustration with past-colonial Nigeria: the true answers for an independent nation are very clear but obscured by the shadow that remains of the imperial British Empire. In order to succeed and maintain social mobility, one must pander to colonial enterprises; but to preserved any sort of native identity, one must also defy the.

Odenigbo climbed up to the podium waving his Biafra flag: swaths of red, black and green, at the centre, a luminous half of a yellow sun. Biafra is born: we will lead black Africa! We will live in security! Nobody will ever again attack us! Never again! (205).

 The same day that Odenigbo asks Olanna to sign a petition demanding that East Nigeria secede from the rest of the country, Ojukwu announces over the radio that the secession has occurred, with the new nation christened Biafra. (338)

The quotation above show Odenigbo proudly waving the Biafra flag, depicting the colors, red, black and green and a rising sun, expressing his joy at independence at last. As a “revolutionary”, as Kainene fondly calls Odenigbo, Odenigbo has grand dreams of freeing Africa from the colonial clutches of Europeans. Even though Nigeria is technically independent of Britain, the artificial structures left behind by occupation still very much govern the diverse array of tribes grouped under one Nigeria.

To Odenigbo, Biafra is a chance at rebirth for both him and his Igbo people. Yet, neither he nor the joyous members of the audience know that a terrible civil war (largely inspired and supported by foreign powers) is about to ravage the nation. (205)

The half of a yellow sun flag becomes an important symbol throughout the text: a rising sun on the horizon, half of a nation that will soon become whole. Yet the lack of full sun may also come to represent pessimism, a half that remains a half and never comes to fruition. At the end of the war, it is up to each person to decide for his or herself whether the glass is “half empty” or “half full’ in the seemingly futile fight for independence. (205)

ANALYSIS OF ADICHE’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN AND OKPEWHO’S THE LAST DUTY

Thematic Analysis of Half of a Yellow Sun

The Theme of Colonialism and Nigerian Politics

Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun centers on the Nigerian Civil War (Biafra War), which took place between 1967-1970. Nigeria had only recently freed itself from British colonial rule at the time and the country was itself an arbitrary unification (by its colonizers) of over 300 different ethnic groups. The largest of these were the Igbo in the southeast, the Yoruba in the southwest and the Hausa in the North.

Adichie paints a picture of this hopeful young country in its new independence through scenes at Odenigbo’s house where politicians, professors and poets argue and laugh together. But despite independence in 1960, Nigerian politics were still under British influence (which wanted to maintain its access to Nigerian resources), mostly through the way the government was arranged so that the autocratic Northern Hausas had the most control.

Ultimately, the tensions between the ethnic groups (exacerbated and sometimes even created England) led to the massacres of Igbo people in 1966 and the civil war that followed with the secession of the Republic of Biafra in the southeast.

Ultimately, none of the political sides comes out blameless in the conflict, just like the characters in the text. England started all the trouble by colonizing and oppressing Nigeria, stirring up ethnic tensions and supplying arms to Nigeria during the war; Nigeria used starvation and genocide as weapons of war, and the Biafra soldiers committed their own atrocities against the Nigerians and even their own people.

ANALYSIS OF ADICHE’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN AND OKPEWHO’S THE LAST DUTY

The Theme of War and Violence

Most part of Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun centers around the Nigerian civil war and the excessive cruelty affects all of the characters. This war was sparked by the massacres of Igbo people in 1966, when angry mobs killed soldiers and citizens as “retribution” for a government coup. The creation of Biafra was then a battered time of hope for the battered Igbo, but this was quickly tempered by the declaration of war from Nigeria.

In Half of a Yellow Sun, Adichie’s contrasts scenes of peace and optimism (like the dinner parties at Odinigbo’s house) with sudden scenes of violence and fear. In this way, she creates a tone of constant-suspense, as the country becomes a place of danger and casual violence.

However, from one to three million people died of starvation and fighting during the Biafra war, and Adichie draws out the personal tragedies in these astronomical numbers. She shows small horrors like a woman carrying her daughter’s severed head in a basket, the girls hair still carefully braided (188) or Ikejide having his head cut off by a piece of shrapnel. There are other tragedies like the poet Okeoma giving up writing in order to fight or Ugwu contributing to horrors of war by participating in the rape of a bar girl.

War and violence is often overwhelming in both the text and the world and sometimes, the only redemption seems to be trying to avoid history’s mistakes by fully confronting them as seen in Adichie’s merciless writing.

The Theme of Love

Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun deals with political and historical events but it is also deeply personal, particularly in the love between its characters. The romantic relationships between Olanna and Odenigbo, Kainene and Richard and Ugwu’s infatuation with Eberechi, are at the centre of the text as well as the sibling love between Olanna and Kainene.

As with everything in the text, the person is affected by the political and vice versa: Olanna’s love for Odenigbo brings her into his world of radical politics and Richard’s love for Kainene causes him to cross racial and political boundaries.

The love between sisters becomes a sort of symbol for the unity of Nigeria, as they painfully cut off ties but are eventually reunited. Ugwu’s longings for Nnesinachi and Eberechi are thwarted by the war and then as a soldier, he commits the atrocity of rape, the ultimate corruption of love. The love between Kainene and Richard, and the love between the sisters sums the most enduring of the text which makes it all the more tragic when Kainene disappears.

Ultimately, Adichie delves into all the deep aspects of the human experience: sex as well as violence, romance as well as cruelty and though she shows great injustice and pain, she portrays love that can withstand such suffering.

ANALYSIS OF ADICHE’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN AND OKPEWHO’S THE LAST DUTY

Style and Narrative Techniques

Adichie uses the economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions among the various people of Nigeria to draw out the emotional and psychological consequences of the conflict to construct a multidimensional version of the Nigeria Civil War of 1967-1970. The pendulum movement of the narrative is most effective as it becomes a device which draws parallels and creates contrast, which implies the physical, mental and emotional changes the characters endure.

The narrative strategy is intertwined with simple moments, where an action or thoughts shows the distinct emotional and material differences that begin to be reflected in all the characters. But the story continues to surprise, recoiling from melodrama, using humour to pave way instead.

Adiechie trespasses the boundary of the historical recount of events by interweaving human aspects, turning on multiple microphones for each of these voices to be heard.

Use of Imagery:

While the text depicts many images of the horrific violence that occurred during the war, the moment of an eerily calm mother carrying and showing the head of her child is one of the most haunting and enduring passages in the text (188).

Adichie employs this image to tie together the horrors of the war, with the humanities of every day’s life:

Even when her child has died and all she has left is a lifeless head, she cannot help but think of the effort that she put into braiding her daughter’s hair (188)

The author also uses the following figurative expressions such as: simile, metaphor, personification, euphemism, and irony in bringing in the causes of Biafra civil war of 1967-1970.

Simile: It is a figure of speech that is used in comparing two things of different nature with the use of “like” and “as”.

Examples: Ugwu, is a port village boy who gets a job “as” a houseboy for Odenigbo, a university professor. (382)

From the above passage, the author shows how Agwu got a job “as” a houseboy during the 1960s Biafra Civil War.

Another example of simile is thus: The author portrays “the realities of Biafra Civil War “as” a pivotal movement that does not just offer historical context, but functions “as” a stepping stone into the emotional effects of the society (189)

ANALYSIS OF ADICHE’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN AND OKPEWHO’S THE LAST DUTY

What the author means is that… the war begins as a movement but destroyed the human’s lives.

Metaphor: is a figure of speech with a direct comparison without the use of “like” and “as”.

Example: Odenigbo posits thus, “they will teach you that a white man called Mungo Park discovered River Niger… that is rubbish” (13).

 Here the author portrays how Odenigbo is comparing a white man to Mungo Park because according to them, Mungo Park was discovered by a white man.

Personification: is a figure of speech that is attributed with animate and inanimate objects.

Example: After Odenigbo has grand dreams of freeing African from colonial clutches of Europeans, he says “Biafra you must rebel for your people” (205).

Here, Odenigbo is talking to Biafra as if … is a person who can rebel against colonial clutches.

Euphemism: is a figure of speech whereby an unpleasant event is expressed in a mid way.

Example: After Mama passed away… Odenigbo starts on a good alcoholism and depression.

The above statement… passed means death and Odenigbo who starts a good alcoholism means… he was in a state of depression because of Mama’s passed away (death).(251)

Irony: is a figure of speech that when taken in context may, actually mean something different from, or the opposite.

Example: Half of a Yellow Sun is a symbol of hope that ironically becomes painfully and tragedy of war.

What the author mean here is that… the novel takes its title from the emblem for Biafra… as the “houseboy” returns with fondness and ironic the master’s way of addressing him as “my good man”. (25)

Tone:

The tone of the text is that of hope for a better future, with the atmosphere being tragic.

Characterization

Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, has the following major characters:

Olanna: One of the text’s main protagonist, the beautiful daughter of Chief Ozobia, and her parents are shallow and greed but she has strong characters and sense of morality. Olanna is one of three characters through which the text is told, the others being Ugwu and Richard. She is the twin sister of Kainene. Olanna was raised in Nigeria and later attended university in the United Kingdom. She is described as “illogically beautiful”, and her appearance often dictates how others treat her. For example, her parents try to offer sex with her as a bribe to help secure business deals. Consequently, her connection with her parents is weak and she gravitates towards her Aunt Ifeka and Uncle Mbaeka in Kano.

Ugwu: The novel starts and ends with Ugwu. He is a village boy from Opi who later becomes a servant in Odenigbo’s house. Under Odenigbo and Olanna’s guidance, Ugwu is able to continue his education and his literacy skills progress throughout the text. He tries to maintain contact with his mother and sister, Anulika, back in his home village and is constantly looking out for his mother’s health and wellbeing.

His free time is often dominated by his love interest which includes Nnesinachi, Enberi and Chinyere. His life is violently interrupted when he is forcibly conscripted into the Biafra Army. There, he witnesses and participates in gruesome battles and a rape.

Odenigbo: Odenigbo starts the text as professor of mathematics at university of Nsukka. His strong opinion results in some characters labeling him as a “revolutionary”. He favours socialism and tribalism to capitalism and pan-African or nationalism. After the war forces him to vacate his position at university of Nsukka, Odenigbo becomes active in the war cause under manpower directorate.

His personal life is dominated by his relationship and later married to Olanna. He is the father of baby, through Amaka, not Olanna. Odenigbo also has a strong, albeit turbulent relationship with his mother. “Mama” affects his relationship with Olanna and Mama’s death starts Odenigbo on a dark path of alcoholism and depression.

Kainene: Kainene, Olanna’s twin, seems to be at first very different from Olanna. She is the type of strong-headed woman, independent, cold, very calculated. Kainene lives in Port Harcourt where she runs her father’s business. Her father, very proud of her, tells one of his friends that she is “not like a son, she is like two”. In the beginning of the war, she is a war profile. However, after she witnessed the war’s cruelty, she changes completely as a character and instead of running her father’s business, she runs a refugee camp.  Kainene remains fearless and in the end, decides to trade with the enemy, putting her life at risk.

ANALYSIS OF OKPEWHO’S THE LAST DUTY

The text explores the effect of war on Aku, a young woman whose husband is imprisoned on allegations of collaborating with rebel soldiers. (5) According to Chief Toje:

Every town must have a few people whose names lend respect to the community. They should be the town’s foremost citizens, men of some distinction. I am one of those very few names that mean anything here in Urukpe. That is why I have not hesitated to recommend a citizen here for detention on charges of collaboration with the rebels. (4-5)

 Alone with a son to cater for, Aku struggles to survive in a town she is hated, as she belongs to the tribe of the rebels called “Simba” and this makes things even harder for fear of being attacked by a mob incited by the violent and traumatic experience of war. (11)

The author cleverly uses the character of Chief Toje to expose the wicked and deceptive machinations of the leaders we have in the Nigerian society. Chief Toje, a rubber business tycoon, is a character portrayed as arrogant, cunning and self-seeking. He feeds lies to the commander of the army, Major Akuya Bello about his business rival Mukoro Oshevire who is Aku’s husband, accusing him of being a Simbian rebel collaborator.

ANALYSIS OF ADICHE’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN AND OKPEWHO’S THE LAST DUTY

He goes further by saying:

I made a secret report to Major Akuja Bello, went over secretly to tell him what the whole town knows Oshevire did, merely because I did not want his to be open scandal involving my name. but the major saw with me, and took the report to the authorities at Iddu, and thereafter, Oshevire was bundled off there and thrown into detention. (31)

Here, the author captures the evil anticipation and man’s inhumanity to a fellow man. Major Akuja Bello is quick to arrest Oshevire without any investigation, and sends him off to prison since the information is coming from an important, respectable and “honorably” Chief like Toje. With Oshevira languishing in jail, Toje decides to solve the problem of his ineffective manhood by making lewd advances towards Aku (23). Although, suspicious of Chief Toje’s intentions, Aku cannot put up much of a fight to starve off Chief Toje as he is her only hope of survival. Toje lavishes her with gifts of food, money and material things on her and her son, which is a welcome relief for her as she has no other means of survival.

According to Aku:

For several months now, Toje has shown us kindness. He has continued to buy clothes, food and other necessities for us and to give me money from time to time. I feel very certain that but for his subvention, my child and I would collapse under the weight of our rejection by the community. But here lies the danger. It seems I have to pay a price for the assistance that he is rendering… and what a price he seems to ask! (12)

Odibo is the errand boy that serves as an intermediary between Toje and Aku. Having been born with a deformed left hand, Odibo relies on Toje for survival and has to suffer the degradation and verbal abuse usually meted out to him by Chief Toje.

According to Odibo:

I know I am nothing. I know I have nothing. But why does he keep making me feel so bad? The way he looks at me, it seems he does not believe that I delivered the parcel. He never seems to trust me. (6)

What use is this awkward mass of the body, he said, if you cannot help yourself and you have no mind, nothing? All you have is a huge body. And that is no use to anyone. No use at all, not even to yourself. Latterly useless. (60)

Here, Odibo is resentful of Chief Toje for making him feel less of a man because of his deformity. His feelings of resentment are of first directed towards Aku because; Chief Toje takes to humiliating him in her presence. As time goes on, he gets attracted to her, an emotion which she shockingly responds to. (180-181)

Unknown to him, Chief Toje being impotent only succeeds in arousing Aku without ever satisfying her and her being without a man for three years, has heightened her womanly needs. She finds relief in the arms of Odibo and starts a secret affair with him.

Aku states that:

I can swear that I never saw it coming. Frustration had driven me to the point where I would rather live the fact that the fiction of sin, loyalty and devotion had been strained beyond all possible endurance and neither the mind nor the body could any longer fight the overwhelming presence of temptation.

The passive resistance of the body could no longer be supported by the will of the mind, until the entire defense came tumbling down like an unsheltered mud wall under the relentless down surge of rain. And can I now swear that I never saw it coming? (184)

Chief Toje becomes suspicious and a confrontation occurs between the two men leading to violence.

As all this goes on, Oshevire faces a tribunal that declares him innocent, and he is released from prison. His freedom however goes not come at the right time as he returns only to learn of all that has gone on in his absence. Although he holds up a tough front as a man, it is easy to understand from his actions that he is crushed that not only did Chief Toje plot to have him sent to prison, but has also made a mess of his wife.

Oshevire is finally vindicated of his charges, his joy is short-lived on his return and he is confronted by a disgraced wife and a town where people openly laugh at him.

According to Ali:

An infant would have known that when those women wept so long and disconsolately on the ground at the feet of her man, it was not so much from joy of reunion as out of a remembered shame. (235)

Aku is asked to pack out from the village and Oshevire her husband, is disgraced by his wife’s adulterous and shameful act. He could not believe that his wife could misbehave. He rhetorically asked:

But if she has allowed herself to be put to such unworthy use by two men, whatever the predicament that she found herself in, what else is there but a strong livelihood that right now she is bearing with her bosom the seed of such vile communion? And what man would choose to be alive to face every day the ill-conceived fruit of shame? No… no… (238)

ANALYSIS OF ADICHE’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN AND OKPEWHO’S THE LAST DUTY

 The author cleverly uses the character of Chief Toje to expose the wicked and deceptive machinations of the leaders we have in the Nigerian society. Chief Toje, a rubber business tycoon, is a character portrayed as arrogant, cunning and self-seeking. He feeds lies to the commander of the army, Major Akuya Bello about his business rival Mukoro Oshevire who is Aku’s husband, accusing him of being a Simbian rebel collaborator.

The author brings the piece to an end with Oshevire and his family trying to leave town, but is shot dead by a soldier after he fails to heed a command to stop. (242)

Major Ali reiterates:

There is more to a soldier than just his gun. (243)

As such, the author makes use of the text in order to focus on the casualties of war, and how the circumstances the deprivations, the hardship as well as the zeal to survive, transform a lot of people.

The author also uses the text to pin-point the tragedy of war that is insidious, and also the invisible psychological wounds, as a result of man’s inhumanity to a fellow man.

The issue of treated with empathy, indicating that under pressure, we may be capable of such despicable actions, and a character like Aku, symbolizes every individual who is forced by insurmountable hardship to do what she would not do normally.

The author therefore, brings to bear the psychological trauma experienced by innocent civilians during the Nigeria Civil War of 1967-1970.

ANALYSIS OF ADICHE’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN AND OKPEWHO’S THE LAST DUTY

Thematic Concerns in The Last Duty

The Theme of Betrayal

There are various forms of betrayal in Okpewho’s The Last Duty. The first and more glaring is the rebellion of the Simbians which leads to the civil war, which forms the thematic thrust of the text.

Another is how Toje betrays Oshevire, his fellow rubber merchant whom he sees as his rival in the rubber business. (5)

He does not only have him arrested and incarcerated but also uses his wife as a concubine (213). The effect of betrayal on Oshevire’s family is better told than experienced. Although we may be quick to blame Aku’s concession to Toje’s dalliances on poverty. Aku also betrays her husband by opening her legs not only to cruel and selfish Toje, but also to crippled and imbecile Odibo. (242) (181)

Odibo on the other hand also betrays his uncle, Toje by sharing Oshevire’s wife with him (181). Again, the sergeant also betray’s private sule by going out with his girlfriend. All these acts of betrayals, gives rise to various conflicts, suffering, and consequences in the text.

The Theme of Ego and Over-ambition

Apart from the rebels who wreck so much havoc and destruction on the people, much more atrocities which touch on human angles, are committed by Toje who is a victim of male ego and over-ambition. (4-5)

Despite the fact that Toje is a prominent figure in the society who is not in want of anything, he goes on to persecute Oshevire just because of his ego which he feels has been slighted by Oshevire (31).  This selfish need to preserve his ego naturally makes him over ambitious. He seems not to be satisfied with anything, anybody or any explanation. His egoism and over-ambition later leads to his shameful downfall.

His incessant abuse of Odibo and his persistent fumbling on Aku despite the fact that he has lost his manhood is all attempts to preserve his ego.

The theme of Evil of Rivalry

Human history has always been punctuated with rivalry. Arguably, every human being as his or her rival. This can be found in every society. With the coming of Oshevire into the rubber business, Toje begins to see him as his rival and therefore plans his elimination. (5)

After he has successfully put Oshevire in the cooler (prison), he soon finds another rivalry in his crippled nephew whom he suspects as having an affair with Aku, who is not even his wife in the first place. (204)

Toje, Odibo, and the private Sule who kills a sergeant for befriending his girlfriend, are all victims of the evil of rivalry.

The Theme of the Evil of War

It is indisputable to say that The Last Duty deals with the psychological effect of war. The war brings enmity between families and people. It brutalizes people and destroys the masses. The effect is very complicating, in that those involved hardly engage freely in social and or any other activities.

The text explores the psychological impact of war on the masses and the family. Historically, it also looks at how families, especially children, were affected by the Nigeria Civil War of 1967-1970.

The theme of war is the overriding issue in the text. It is a tragic text which portrays how one can be exploited during war times.

Okpewho uses Aku and Oshevire to depict how wars affect families and the star victim, is Oshevire. The ties and bonds which hitter to existed between Igabo and Simba; is also destroyed by the war.

By extension, it shows now the Nigeria Civil War has destroyed the bonds and ties which existed among different tribes in Nigeria. It is not an exaggeration to say that tribal bigotry in Nigeria has become more glaring after the civil war.

The theme of Oppression

Throughout human history, oppression, suppression and dehumanization have always been the bone of the society. As Agbeyegbe has rightly said in the text, there is no doubt that Oshevire and his co-detainees, are mere victims of oppression and suppression by the rich class. (35)

Even in war situations, the rich do not often suffer as the poor. Apart from the guns, sometimes the affluent civilians become another weapon in the hands of the soldiers to oppress and victimize people. Toje is an epitome of oppression. He does not only oppress Oshevire and his family, but also dehumanizes his crippled nephew and his workers (6)

With the guns, the soldiers often victimizes and dehumanizes the so-called civilians, and this is seen in the manner the soldier calls the detainees to present their evidence. He uses the bolt of the gun to call them to order, and it is quite dehumanizing. (39)

In most cases, it is oppression that often causes people to revolt and this, more often than not, leads to a kind of civil war we witness in the text.

The theme of Societal Conflict

Okpewho uses The Last Duty to satirize conflicts in human society, with different levels of conflicts in the text; war conflicts, conflicts between individuals and internal conflicts with the characters themselves. On the surface, it may look as if war is the only conflict in the text, but a closer look reveals other conflicts. There is a conflict between Toje and Oshevire which makes the former to raise false charges against the latter. (5)

There is also conflict between Toje and Odibo whom Toje now sees as his rival. (212 – 213). Okmagba, the private assigned to project Oshevire’s family is also in conflict with his nature and inclination whether to kill Aku and his son and blame it on the war.

Again, in an attempt to settle the internal conflict going on his mind, Oshevire sets his house ablaze and leaves the town only to meet with his untimely death from the trigger happy soldiers, who shot and skills him for ignoring direct orders. (241 -142)

The Theme of Poverty

The effects of poverty are often dangerous. There is no doubt that, poverty leads Aku to succumb to Yoje’s evil desire which renders her like a prostitute. Aku has no means for livelihood after her husband Oshdevire is jailed. To avert the brutality of hunger due to poverty. She has to accept Toje. That is why it is every good to empower women educationally, economically, and politically.

Style and Narrative Technique 

The frame work of the analysis is based on style as a choice which is one of the rubrics identified by Azuike in one of his works. In this cause an individual has the freedom to deviate from the normal way of writing, to have a unique presentation.

Okpewho uses individualistic narrative style Dash and ellipses are punctuation marks used in special ways.

Figures of speech such as anaphora, litotes and rhetorical questions, is used to beautify the text. Okpewho’s writing is simple, yet very deep. Each character tells his own story in the form of “dramatic Monologue”, characters personal, and the motive   behind this or her actions.

The author also employs the use of “Irony” to convey massage across that would ordinarily not have been effectively communicated. It is Ironic that Oghenovo longs for his father, but when his father returns, the little boy decides he does not like him because he makes his mother cry.(234)

It is also ironic that despite his sirs of importance and sense of worth, Chief Toje is unable to pleasure to Aku, and she finds comfort with Odibo, who has been portrayed as being worthless specimen of manhood. (158) (181).

Furthermore, the prison offers more solitude and protection for Oshevire who upon his release, only comes to meet with the bad news that leads to his tragic death, when the prison that is seen as a place of confinement, is a much better place for him to have been. (242 -243)

With a simple language that is easily understood, the writing of each character portrays their personalities.

The tone of the text is that of hope for a better further, with atmosstphere being tragic.

ANALYSIS OF ADICHE’S HALF OF A YELLOW SUN AND OKPEWHO’S THE LAST DUTY

Characterization

Mukoro Oshervire: He is one of the citizens Urukpe who is arrested and detained at the command of Toje. He is the husband of Aku, and the father of Oghenovo is intelligent and hardworking. Because of his honesty in doing business, he soon takes the lead in the rubber business and Toje hates him for that.

Aku: She is Mukoro Oshevire’s wife in her late twenties. She was isx a virgin before she got married to Oshevire. She is a very determined and fearless woman. Despite the fact that her fellow simians had run away at the wake of the town by refusing “to do what the normal, natural instinct for survival would have urged”.

A few moments of her transgressions can be said to have borne out of natural inclination and the need to keep her body and soul together, rather than deliberate acts of dishonor to her husband.

Major Akuya Bello: He is the last command in-charge of Urukpe where Ali is now in-charge. He was relieved of his command on account of drunkenness and indiscipline. He is a close friend to Toje who orders the arrest of Oshevire on account of collaborating with the rebels.

Ali: He is brigading major commanding the XV Brigade of the federal army at a tribal border town between the Igabo and the rebel Simba. He takes over from Major Akuya Bello. Unlike other soldiers in a war situation who always use the women to satisfy their sexual urge, Ali does not entangle himself with such things. He is a soldier with a difference.

Oghenovo: The son of Aku and Oshevire, a little child that is caught in the middle of war, and misses a father he has never seen or met. As he tries to make sense of all that is happening around him, he also tries to be happy by fin ding joy in the gifts he gets from his “father”.

Chief Toje: A rubber business tycoon is a character portrayed as arrogant, cunning and self-seeking. He feeds lies to the commander of soldiers, Major Akuya Bello about his business rival, Mukoro Oshevire, accusing him of being a Simbian rebel collaborator. With Oshevire languishing in jail, Toje decides to solve the problems of his ineffective man hood by making lewd advances towards Aku. He is the callous, scheming scumbag that is perceived as upright and respectable in the society, when through his narration in the text, he is not worth his measure in gold.

Odibo: Odibo is the errand boy that serves as an intermediary between Toje and Aku. Having been born with a deformed left hand, Odibo relies on Chief Toje for survival, and has to suffer the degradation and verbal abuse usually meted out by Toje. He later establishes a relationship with Aku.

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