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Wednesday, 28 February 2018

The School Boy by William Blake : Themes, Imagery And Symbolism

The School Boy by William Blake : Themes, Imagery And Symbolism

The loss of Innocence.
Entrapment, Confinement.
Parental care and Authority.
The Stand point of Children.
Imagery and Symbolism.
         The School Boy by William Blake Themes, Imagery And Symbolism
"The School Boy" is a 1789 poem by William Blake and published as a part of his poetry collection entitled "Songs of Innocence."
The poem is written in the pastoral tradition that focuses on the downsides of formal learning. It considers how going to school on a summer day "drives all joy away".The boy in this poem is more interested in escaping his classroom.


1. The Loss of innocence

Innocence is presented here as freedom from constraint and self-consciousness. The child starts out taking pleasure in an uninhibited life, full of trust in his world, both natural and human. The fragility of this state is clear from images like blossoms' and tender plants .. strip'd'. The child soon experiences the woe' in life and of learning the possibility of failure and betrayal.
The poem begins in Stanza I with the poet giving us a pastoral image of the innocence of nature reminiscent of that in The Introduction from Innocence, some critics have pointed out the similarity of The distant huntsman winds his horn in this poem with Piping down the valleys wild in The Introduction of Innocence. The poem gives us an image of rising with the company of many natural joys, not just the huntsman but birds sing on every tree and the sky-lark sings with me. It is in Stanza II that we see the oppression of the natural by authority typical of Experience and continued through the rest of the poem. This stanza compares the pastoral imagery of Stanza I with that of the cruel eye outworn, and the sighing and dismay of the children in the school room. The contrast is heightened by the similarity of the opening lines, both ending in a summer morn and the way this forces a similar rhyme across the two, and the similar metre and beginning of O! what sweet company. ending Stanza I and O! it drives all joy away; in the second line of Stanza II. The similarities enhance the differences in the two images and show childhood in the two states of pastoral innocence and the experience in restrictive school days leaving the reader with a feeling for the loss of youth.

2. Entrapment, Confinement

Images of confinement abound in the Songs. Blake the revolutionary opposed the coercive strictures of the Establishment' the state, organised religion etc. - which sought to quantify and rule all aspects of human behaviour. Here, education is formalised and restrictive, actually stunting the development of those it claimed to nurture. Prison imagery is seen in the cruel eye' of the overseer and the cage' of the bird.
Images of confinement is further, abound in the Songs. Blake the revolutionary opposed the coercive strictures of the Establishment' the state, organised religion etc. - which sought to quantify and rule all aspects of human behaviour. Here, education is formalised and restrictive, actually stunting the development of those it claimed to nurture. Prison imagery is seen in the cruel eye' of the overseer and the cage' of the bird.
Blake saw the natural child as an image of the creative imagination which is the human being's spiritual core. He was concerned about the way in which social institutions such as the school system and parental authority crushed the capacity for imaginative vision. The child's capacity for happiness and play are expressions of this imagination.

3. Parental care and authority

In Blake's work, parents are often perceived as inhibiting and repressing their children. Their own fears and shame are communicated to the next generation through the parental desire to protect' children from their desires. According to Blake, parents misuse care' to repress children, rather than setting the children free by rejoicing in, and safeguarding, their capacity for play and imagination. Here, parents are seen as colluding with a repressive system; it is as though they are entrapped by a way of seeing the world and transmit that entrapment to their offspring by perpetuating the system.
Stanzas V and VI are appeals to the alternate authority of the parents to realise the predicament of the child and the dangers in this suppression of natural learning. Stanza V gives us a strong image of nature destroyed with :-

if buds are nipd,
And blossoms blown away,
And if the tender plants are stripd

4. The Standpoint of children

Is the child born free and good, as Rousseau believed, or born sinful, as the Calvinist Christians believed?
Or is this opposition the result of fallen human beings' inability to recognise that the capacity for good and evil both belong to humanity?
Blake's idea that a young child can clearly see God echoes the Romantic sensibility articulated by Wordsworth, that children had an existence in heaven before the commencement of their earthly life. 

Imagery and symbolism

This poem depends upon three inter-related images, the schoolboy, the bird and the plant. All three are dependent upon, or vulnerable to, the way in which they are treated by human beings.

Schoolboy - The image of the child here focuses on his nature as free and unfettered. He is associated with the spring as a time for growth, freshness and playfulness. As such, the child represents the playful, free nature of the creative imagination. According to Blake, this was fettered by subjection to the demands of a system which denies the validity of imagination. In The School Boy, formal education involves subjection to a cruel' eye and cruelty in Blake is always linked with the denial of imaginative freedom and of the spiritual self.

Bird - The bird imagery allows for the comparison between the free child being imprisoned in school and the songbird being caged. The unity between bird and boy is emphasised in stanza one. The sky-lark sings with me'. This inverts our expectations. We tend to think of the sky-lark as the primary singer, with whom people might sing along. Here, however, it is the child who is the first singer. It is as natural to him as to the lark, as though he were another bird.

Birds are also images of freedom. Their capacity for flight and for song makes them appropriate images of creative imagination, since poets sing' and imagination is often linked with the notion of flight. The schoolboy in school and the bird in the cage are, therefore, seen as equivalents not only at the natural level, under physical subjection, but at the spiritual level, too. Both represent the caging and entrapping of imaginative vision.

Plant - The image of the plant applies to the school boy's present and future. The young plant, like the young child, is tender and vulnerable. The way it (and the child) is treated at this stage dictates its later capacity to bear fruit. Just as food gathered in autumn is necessary to ensure survival through the winter, so experiences of joy and the freedom of the imagination are necessary for a person's capacity to live well and survive the inevitable griefs' of life.


poem is a dramatic monologue, written in rhyme scheme (ababb).
It contains six stanzas of 30 lines. It examines the element of nature in proferring solution to learning and creative development.


The Pulley by George Herbert

The Pulley by George Herbert 

The Pulley by George Herbert

When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
Let us, said he, pour on him all we can:
Let the worlds riches, which dispersed lie,
Contract into a span.
So strength first made way;
Then beauty flowed; then wisdom, honour, pleasure.
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure,
Rest in the bottom lay.
For, if I should, said he,
Bestow this jewel also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts instead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature:
So should both losers be.
Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness:
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to my breast.

Analysis : The Pulley by George Herbert

The poem The Pulley illustrates the relationship between God and man especially his benevolence to man. The first stanza describes how God made man and blessed him with worldly riches: When God at first made man, Having a glass of blessings standing by. The stanza also portrays the concept of Trinity as seen in the Biblical creation story in GenesisLet us, said he pour on him all we can (Note the use of the phrase Let us).
In the second stanza, God actually poured his blessings of strength, beauty, wisdom, honour and pleasure on man but withheld one important blessing- The Gift of Rest: Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure, Rest in the bottom lay.
In the third stanza, God gave his reason for withholding the gift of rest from man. He withdrew this blessing because he felt giving man the gift of rest would make him conceited or excessively proud and man may not worship him: He would adore my gifts instead of me, And rest in nature, not the God of Nature. With the withdrawal of rest from man, man is thrown into perpetual restlessness so that he can always remember his creator whether as a result of goodness or weariness: Let him be rich and weary, that at least, If goodness lead him not, yet weariness may toss him to my breast


i.          Gods supremacy and love for mankind. He blessed man with many gifts but shows his supremacy over man by withholding the gift of rest.
ii.         Mans dependency on God.
iii.        The insatiable nature of mans needs. This throws man in a perpetual state of restlessness, anxiety and worry.

Poetic Devices: The Pulley by George Herbert

Looking for synecdoche and paradox in George Herbert's "The Pulley."
As I understand it, paradox is a statement that at first seems contradictory but then it starts to make sense.  Given that definition, the only line that seems to be paradoxical is "Let him be rich and weary, that at least."
Synecdoche is a really tough concept for me.  It's defined as the use of part of a thing to stand for the whole (she lent a hand).
1. The pulley as we all know is a simple machine which is useful for lifting heavy loads. It is a device which enables a person to pull and control  the rope at the end of which is the load to be lifted. The pulley represents God's loving nature by which he draws mankind close to his bosom where man can find rest. It is the synecdoche-a trope which represents the entire divine life force by which God the Creator holds on to and controls his creation, Man.
2. Similarly, "breast" - the last word of the poem - is another synecdoche. "Breast" represents not just the physical bosom of God but represents the comfort and consolation which only God and not the secular blessings can give Man.  It is a 'part' which represents the 'whole' of the goodness of God.
The Paradox, of course, lies in the fact that God who is so benevolent and generous and fills Man to the overflowing with all the wonderful secular gifts,
Let us (said he) poure on him all we can :
Let the worlds riches, which dispersed lie,
Contract into a span.
So strength first made a way ;
Then beautie flowd, then wisdome, honour, pleasure :
withholds from him the most precious gift - the jewel - rest.
The fact that God did not give 'rest,' the most precious gift to man seemingly detracts from his benevolent and generous nature, but God has done this for Man's own good -  to compel him always to worship and adore only God and to seek comfort and solace only in God's bosom and not in "Nature":
For if I should (said he)
Bestow this jewell also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts in stead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature :
By denying man the most precious jewel, "rest," God has not been unkind to Man but he has only been all the more good to him. It is this denial of "rest" which acts as the "pulley" which always draws restless Man to God and also helps God to keep ambitious and wayward  Man under His control.  If God had not been kind enough to deny Man "rest" then Man would not seek God and he would lose eternity and consequently God would also lose Man to the eternal fires of hell: "So both should losers be. Paradoxically, God the 'giver' by refusing to give the most precious gift proves himself to be all the more generous and kind.
Another paradox can be found in the line, "Rest in the bottom lay." The most precious gift is at the bottom of the "glass" and not at the top.

Structure of the Poem: The Pulley by George Herbert

The poem does not hold a specific rhythm. It has 4 stanzas of the poem, the first and the last lines of each stanza are of equal trimeter but the second, third, and fourth are not clearly equal in each stanza.

The poem The Pulley by George Herbert has a to total of 20 lines, each line with end rhyme pattern of ABABA, CDCDC. The first stanza is  about the reason God endowed man during creation, the second stanza showed all the endowments, the third stanza is about the reason God gave man a companion, the last stanza is about how all the blessings and possessions given will lead man back to Gods bosom.

So in The Pulley by George Herbert God retains his precious jewel lest man abandoon him and worship nature instead. In this way man will always need God and turn to him in his desire for eternal peace.

About the Poet

George Herbert was born in to a noble Welsh family on April 3, 1593. His poetry was influenced chiefly by the puritanical stance of the 17th century in which he was born. After graduation from the University, he was ordained as a priest and served in a little church in Bemerton. His major collection of poems titled The Temple was published after his death.
George Herbert was an Anglican priest, theologian, and poet. Born into a wealthy family, he was very well educated and attended Trinity College in Cambridge. He briefly served in Parliament in 1624-25. In his mid-thirties, he gave up his secular career and was ordained a priest in the Church of England. He served as rector of a small parish 75 miles southwest of London and was known for his dedication to his parishioners and those who were needy and ill.
Herbert was a remarkable preacher and a brilliant writer of religious poems, many of which were put into popular hymns. He wrote in Greek, Latin, and English. Known for his humility, quiet devotion and saintly character, Herbert died on the 1st of March 1633.

Feel free to share  The Pulley by George Herbert with friends and family...Enjoy! 



Thursday, 22 February 2018

Analysis of A Raising in the Sun by Lorraine Vivian Hansberry

A Raising in the Sun by Vivian Lorraine Hansberry

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry is a play that displays housing discrimination in Chicago during the 1950s. Housing discrimination was partially an effect of the Great Migration. This was an event during the 1950s that resulted in about six million African Americans migrating from the south to the north, Midwest, and west regions of the United States. This caused the population of black people in major northern cities to increase rapidly. They are then only able to live in certain neighborhoods, which keeps their communities segregated.


According to Lorraine Hansberrys stage directions at the beginning of the play, the action occurs sometime between the end of World War II and the 1950s. The play is set in an urban ghetto and deals with the problems encountered by a poor black family as it tries to cope with the realities of life on Chicagos South Side. It reveals the devastating effects of poverty and oppression on the African American family. Even before the play begins, Hansberrys stage directions, both in tone and substance, suggest the extent of that devastation. The furnishings in the Younger familys apartment, she says, are tired, and the once loved couch upholstery has to fight to show itself from under acres of dollies and couch covers. The very environment in which the Youngers live mirrors the struggle for survival that is waged daily in this household.

As the play progresses, the frustration born of this poverty and oppression mounts. The anger and hostility that it spawns begin to erode the foundations of the family structure. This erosion begins early in the play, exhibiting itself in the strained relations between Walter Lee and his wife Ruth as they argue over the disposition of money coming from insurance on Walters father. Walter Lee wants to use the money to purchase a liquor store. He is convinced that such a business venture will be his ticket out of the ghetto. His marriage threatens to collapse under the constant bickering. Ruth, having just discovered that she is pregnant, contemplates abortion to avoid bringing a new life into this hostile, poverty-ridden environment.

As the family anticipates the arrival of the insurance check, the tension grows and Walter becomes more agitated. He is resentful of his sister, whose medical-school expenses, he thinks, will consume money that he might otherwise use to finance his liquor store. When the check finally arrives and he finds that Mama Younger has used part of the money to make a down payment on a new house and plans to use the rest for Beneathas medical-school expenses, Walter explodes, spending his days driving around town and his nights brooding in the local bar.

When Mama begins to understand the depth of damage to Walter Lees feelings and manhood, she turns over the rest of the money to him to do with as he pleases. She makes one request, however: that he put aside the money for Beneathas education. Still pursuing his dream, however, Walter gives Willie, one of his friends, the money to purchase the liquor store for him. Willie absconds with the money, dashing Walter Lees hopes and dreams as well as those of the entire Younger family.

In an effort to recover his losses, Walter Lee decides to accept the money that has been offered earlier by their prospective white neighbors as a bribe to keep the Younger family out of an all-white neighborhood. In the last scene of the play, however, under the watchful eye of his son, Walter finds the courage to reject the offer. The family takes its leave of its ghetto apartment and heads for its new home and anticipated better life.

Form and Content

Written just as the Civil Rights movement began to get underway, this play (and the motion picture made from it in 1960) made an important statement regarding race relations. Lorraine Hansberry, coming as she did from an affluent African American family, had experienced discrimination in her own childhood when her father moved the family out of the Chicago ghetto to a home in Englewood, Illinois. She also had strong opinions about the position of black women in American society, who are represented to a great extent by the character of Beneatha in this play.

Additionally, Langston Hughess poem A Dream Deferred must be considered seminal in understanding the play. In it the poet asks, What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?. . . or does it explode? and Hansberry has successfully dramatized various human reactions to such deferment. The time in the play spans only a few weeks, but the dreams held by each of the characters have roots that reach far back. As the play begins, Lena is expecting a check of $10,000 as beneficiary of her husbands life insurance, and each character sees that money as the key that will unlock the future.

Most volatile about getting control of the money is Walter Lee, who wants to invest (with two other men) in a liquor store and become an independent businessman. He represents the dream that is ready to explode. In the first scene, he makes his attitude very clear when he asks his wife Ruth to persuade his mother to give him the money, and he becomes very upset with her when she insists that it is Lenas money to do with as she likes.

Walter Lees frustration with his life causes him to project his predicament on his wife, as a representative of all black women. As he puts it, Man say I got to change my life. Im choking to death, baby! And his woman sayyour eggs is getting cold!

Lena Younger, knowing that she and her husband never realized their dreams, has accepted life as God has willed it. In the words of the poem, she has crusted and sugared overlike a syrupy sweet. Because of the insurance money, however, she believes that she has been given a second chance at her dream of improving the lives of everyone in her family by moving out of the ghetto. Furthermore, because she is very religious, she disapproves of the idea of a liquor store for her son. Representing the older black woman who heads the family, Lena is a loving but quietly controlling matriarch.

The early-morning scene that opens the play illustrates clearly the physical conditions in which the Youngers live. The apartment is clean but very crowded; Travis sleeps on a couch in the living room, and the family shares a bathroom with other tenants in the building. Quite soon, Ruth reveals that she is pregnant, and her con-sideration of an abortion strengthens Lenas resolve regarding the use of the money.

Beneathas dream of becoming a doctor is quite concrete; she has had it since adolescence. Unlike her brother, she does not solicit her mothers financial assistance. Representing the newly emancipated black woman (in the image of the playwright), Beneatha gives the impression that she will not marry for security or surrender her free-thinking ideas. At one point, Lena actually slaps Beneatha and insists that she affirm her belief in God, but it is clear that the young woman acquiesces only out of respect for her mother. She will march to the beat of her own drummer.

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The plant that Mama keeps near the apartments sole window is barely surviving because it lacks adequate nourishment. Sound like anyone else we know? Yet she is completely dedicated to the plant and lovingly tends it every single day in the hopes that it will one day be able to flourish. Gosh. Sound like her behavior towards anyone else? This is by far the plays most overt symbol; the plant acts as a metaphor for the family.

Hansberry writes about sunlight and how the old apartment has so little of it. The first thing Ruth asks about in Act Two, Scene One is whether or not the new house will have a lot of sunlight. Sunlight is a familiar symbol for hope and life, since all human life depends on warmth and energy from the sun.

Cockroaches, rats and other lovely creatures.

These creatures heavily reinforce the Younger familys undesirable living situation.


Where It All Goes Down
The Youngers' apartment in the slums of Chicago's Southside, 1950s
The Apartment

Hansberry welcomes us into the tiny apartment of the Younger family. This place is really cramped, especially with five people living in it. On stage we see the kitchen, which is so small that it's more like a closet. Most of the play's action goes down in the living room, which also serves as the dining room and Travis's makeshift bedroom.

There's access to two bedrooms on opposite sides of the apartment (one room shared by Mama and Beneatha, the other by Walter and Ruth). The bathroom is out in the hall; the Youngers are forced to share it with their neighbors, the Johnsons. So, yeah, you get the point this place is small!

The incredibly close quarters of the Youngers' apartment definitely adds to the high tensions that run throughout the play. It's a wonder the family doesn't fight more than they already do, considering how on top of each other they're forced to live.

The tininess of the apartment definitely has a major effect on the action of the play early on. When Ruth finds out she's pregnant, she seriously considers having an abortion. If the baby is born, there just won't be anywhere for it to sleep. This thought is just too much for Mama, however. When she realizes what her daughter-in-law is considering, she marches straight out and purchases a new setting for her family to live in the house in Clybourne Park.

Be sure to look at set design pictures in order to better visualize the space. To see how professional Scene Designers have brought the Younger apartment to life onstage, look online. (Or better yet, attend a theatre production.) Here's an example.

Southside Chicago

The neighborhood which the Youngers live in is particularly significant because, during the 1950s, it was primarily a poor neighborhood inhabited mainly by African Americans. Many blacks ended up in Chicago's Southside after migrating from the South, looking for work and seeking to escape racial discrimination.

Things were definitely better in the North on a lot of levels, but blacks still faced many challenges because of their race. As A Raisin in the Sun shows, white society made it very hard for African Americans to escape the cramped, vermin-infested apartment buildings of Chicago's Southside. There may not have been any law officially segregating the city, but unofficial segregation was still going on.

The 1950s

The exact year is never specified, but the play takes place in the 1950s. Probably, the most significant thing to think about as far as the time period goes is the status of race issues. A lot of progress had been made by this point in American history, but as A Raisin in the Sun  shows, there was still a long, long way to go.

The 1950s was a sort of turning point in America, the decade that brought the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. During much of the 1950s, the South was segregated by racist Jim Crow laws. And, as we point out in our entry on the Southside, many African Americans faced unofficial racial barriers in the North. The racial tensions of the time period definitely fuel the conflicts of the play.

Beneatha's character, in particular, is grounded in the time period, as she deals with very timely socio-political issues. In a way, though, she is totally ahead of her time. We have no doubt that if Beneatha was still in the US around in the 1960s she would definitely be marching with Dr. King. Beneatha is also head of her time with the idea that African Americans should be more in touch their African roots. This became a major movement among black Americans later on in the '60s. With the character of Beneatha, Hansberry predicted (and possibly helped to spark) some major movements in American history.


Family Drama, Realism, African-American Literature
A Raisin in the Sun was part of a broader movement to portray the lives of ordinary, working-class African-Americans. The genre of Realism captures ordinary life, and A Raisin in the Sun definitely fits this description. Dreams of buying a house, making some money in business, and going to medical school are dreams shared by millions of working-class Americans. And if you cant figure out why this play is a Family Drama, then we seriously screwed up our job.


Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Alternates between Ironic and Somber
Life is rough for the Younger family, and Hansberry's use of somber tone is appropriate to that. At the same time, however, she injects a heavy dose of irony and sarcasm. Did you notice how Hansberry writes "Drily" in a lot of the line directions? (Wait, is that just "dryly" spelled a different way? Yes, it is.) The Youngers have a bite in how they talk; there's a fun tongue-in-cheek kind of feel, especially in Walter and Beneatha's sibling chats.

One of the single most ironic moments in the play, however, might be when Mr. Lindner explains that the people he represents have worked hard to achieve their dreams. In that single scene, the characters don't notice the irony so much as the audience does. It's Hansberry at her finest exposing how the American Dream can ring hollow for black Americans.


Friday, 16 February 2018

Faceless by Amma Darko

Faceless by Amma Darko

faceless by amma darko


Amma Darko was born in Koforidua, Ghana, and grew up in Accra. She studied in Kumasi, where she received her diploma in 1980. She is one of the most significant contemporary Ghanaian literary writers. She is the author of the following novels:  Faceless (2003), The Housemaid (1999), Beyond the Horizon (1995) and Not Without Flowers (2007). Analysis of “Faceless”


Attempted Rape

The novel opens with fourteen year old Fofo sleeping on an old cardboard at the Agbogbloshie market. Except for her new job of washing carrots at the vegetable market in Agbogbloshie, her life in Sodom and Gomorrah, a slum close to the market consisted mainly of watching adult movies and taking alcohol. In her sleep, she dreamt of living in a home with a roof and a toilet, a dream shared by other street children  like her.

She was woken up suddenly by Poison, a street lord who attempted to rape her. Fofo resisted him and ran to Odarley, her best friend who lived in a rented wooden shack. She told Odarley about Poison’s attempted rape and her intention to see her mother whom she believed had some connections with Poison. Fofo’s mother, Maa Tsuru informed Fofo, that her elder sister, Baby T was dead and Poison had threatened her into silence over Baby T’s death. She therefore urged Fofo to leave for her safety.

Kabria’s Encounter with Fofo

In sharp contrast to the life in Sodom and Gomorrah is Kabria’s life with her family. A mother of three lively children- Obea, Essie and Ottu, she lived in a decent neighbourhood in Accra, worked with MUTE a non-governmental agency and drove a problematic old car nick-named Creamy. She ran into Fofo at the Agbloghoshie market while shopping for vegetables. Kabria was standing with other spectators at the spot where Baby T’s body was found when Fofo, disguising as a boy tried to steal her purse. Kabria rescued her from the angry mob. Fofo revealed her female identity and told Kabria that Baby T was her sister. Meanwhile, a lot of people had been made to believe that the dead girl (Baby T) was a kayayoo(a market porter from the north) to conceal her true identity and discourage further enquiry into her death. MUTE (the non-governmental organisation where Kabria worked) got interested in Baby T’s matter and granted Fofo protection by taking her into custody temporarily while conducting investigations into the circumstances surrounding Baby T’s death.

The circumstances surrounding Baby T’s death was revealed through two main sources: Fofo and investigations by MUTE.

How Baby T became a prostitute

Baby T was the third child of Maa Tsuru while Fofo was fourth. Their jobless father, Kwei had abandoned them mainly as a result of the superstitious belief that Maa Tsuru had been cursed from birth. Baby T was sexually abused by her mother’s second lover, Kpakpo and was further defiled by Onko, a generous uncle who lived in the same compound with them and in whom she tried to confide.

Through Kpapkpo’s gimmicks, Baby T was sold to a prostitution ring  consisting of Madam Abidjan, Maami Brooni and Poison, the street lord and ring leader. She was made to work as a child prostitute in Maami Brooni’s brothel with her earnings sent to Maa Tsuru who simply turned a blind eye.

Meanwhile, Onko’s welding business had suffered great setback after defiling Baby T. A witchdoctor made him believe that his misfortune was caused by the defilement of Baby T whom he said was a cursed child. As a form of remedy, the witch doctor asked Onko to bring some sacrificial items which would include Baby T’s pubic hair.

How Baby T died

Kpakpo helped Onko to connect with Baby T once again. Poison eventually led Kpakpo to Maami Brooni’s brothel where Baby T worked as a prostitute. Baby T remembered what Onko did to her in the past and totally declined to sleep with him. Enraged at her refusal, Poison slapped and tried to beat her into submission. Baby T was found dead on the concrete floor with her head split open. She was alone with Onko in the room at the time of her death. Onko committed suicide thereafter.


Discrimination against women: Baby T and Maa Tsuru are symbolically representative of the sins visited upon all women in a society where from birth women are discriminated against and made responsible not only for their sins, but for those of men in society. In the story, nothing goes right when men are involved and many of the male characters in the novel are murderers, child abusers, rapists, or simply good for nothing. Those not presented in this light are trapped in their distorted perceptions of women as caregivers and housewives, such as Kabrias husband, Adade, who expects her to be waiting at the door to take his briefcase when he returns from work. Despite the fact that Kabria works a long day, she is still expected to manage the household, cook, and take care of the children.
Maa Tsuru who is abandoned penniless by her husband as a result of a curse (being fertile) is a victim of dehumanisation. Her unfortunate predicament is made worse by superstition, poverty and illiteracy. Her daughter, Baby T is raped by Kpakpo and later murdered by Poison.
Darko, cleverly, depicts these evils perpetrated against women in our society. She urges us, especially men, to search their conscience and have a change of mind in the way they see the role of women in the family and in the society at large.

Street child phenomenon: The novel, faceless by amma darko, demonstrates the personal and social tragedy of each and every child that ends up on the streets. As one of the characters puts it in quoting assassinated US president John F. Kennedy, The future promise of any nation can be directly measured by the present prospects of its youth.
Baby T and her siblings end up on the streets as a result of their parents irresponsility. This parental failure exposes them to the streets where the fittest survive. They become prostitutes, petty robbers and heavy drinkers to survive on the street. Later, Baby T is murdered by Poison, the street lord. Amma Darko seems to be asking what hope there is if societies can allow the conditions that result in the fate of Baby T, Fofo and other street children in Ghana and other African countries. Children who are victims of abuse grow up to become abusers themselves, as is the case of poison who is shown to be a victim through his own abuse as a child, but who now no longer suffered the pain, he inflicted it.
Darko succeeds in hammering home a powerful message that children and the way they are treated are the true measures of how societies are judged.

Leadership failure: Proverbs 29:2 states, When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. In Faceless by amma darko, it is evident that there is total neglect of duty, either by omission or commission, on the part of government of the day. There is a total neglect of social institutions that see to the day to day running of the society. The police station that Kabria visited with her colleague was in a state of dilapidation. There was no vehicle, no good filing system and the building itself is about to collapse. The police are charged with the sole responsibility of maintaining law and order, but an ill-equipped police will surely come short of this responsibility. Anarchy rules when there is a breakdown in law and order. This is the reason why people like Poison will continue to reign and cause havoc in the society.

The role of the media and NGOs in championing social courses: In faceless by amma darko, the role of the media and non-governmental organisations in the propagation and sustenance of peace and crime free society is highly underscored. The role of these agencies is critical. They shoulder a huge responsibility that should be jealously guarded for the good of the society. The people rely on the media for information, and a well-informed society is a progressive society. In the novel, Sylv Po of Harvest FM represents the picture of the work of the media. Sylv Po is both active and intelligent. He develops interest in Fofos case and uses his radio programme to fight against crime in the society.
Kabria, on her own part with her organization, did a wonderful job. MUTE is a veritable NGO with the special task of information documentation on social problems such as demented pregnant women, street child issue, etc. MUTE picks interest in Fofos case and together with Sylv Po of Harvest FM, the mystery behind the death of Baby T is unraveled.
Darko seems to be saying that the responsibility of maintaining a peaceful environment should not be left to the government alone. The media, NGOs, private institutions, and individuals all have a role to play in the maintenance of order and crime free society.

SETTING OF Faceless by Amma Darko

The story of Faceless is set in one of the most hostile parts of Accra, called Sodom and Gomorrah, named after the biblical city that God destroyed because of its numerous sins. Although the author uses unreal names, she narrates what can possibly be described as real-life events at venues that really exist. Agbogbloshie, Makola market, Abossey-Okai Abeka, korle-Bu and the all-notorious Sodom and Gomorrah can really be found in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana.

PLOT-SETTING-SUMMARY 2 : Faceless by amma darko

Sometimes it is better to tell the story of a street child than to look for his murderer. We learn this definitively from Henning Mankell’s book. Amma Darko tells the opposite story: searching for the murderer makes for a better life for those who survive in the streets.

14-year-old Fofo is a street child living in a part of Accra named “Sodom and Gomorrha,” a place that is not good for anybody, least of all to children. Fofo has made it her task to find out what happened to her sister, Baby T, who was found dumped behind a marketplace, beaten and mutilated. Baby T. was the third child of Ma Tsumu, and was born after a brutal beating intended to abort the baby. Her father disappeared, leaving Ma Tsumu to fend for herself with four children. Soon Ma Tsumu found a new lover to share her bed, Kpakpo, who is good-for-nothing and earns his keep by “dubious” means.

Not willing to accept the presence of the new lover, the two brothers leave home. Soon after, Baby T. is sexually abused by Kpakpo. Hurt and confused, the twelve year old girl doesn’t confide in her mother, but instead in a family friend, Onko, who in turn rapes her. Ma Tsumu who then learns about the tragedy finds herself unable to do anything but take money from Onko, who continues to live in the same compound as Baby T. The situation is untenable. Kpakpo suggests that Baby T be sold into prostitution. The theme of discrimination against women is always present in this story. Baby T is representative of the sins visited upon all women in a society where they are discriminated against from birth. There is a note of home in the landscape of the story, when Baby T’s sister Fofo meets with a group of women who run an institution that documents issues called MUTE. The four women are inspired by the plight of Fofo and convert their library center into a practical street initiative.

Author Amma Darko has lived in Accra, near the marketplace where the crime happened. She evokes the vicious cycles of poverty and violence that drive children to the streets and women to prostitution. Her powerful message says that the way children are treated is the true measure of how societies are judged. When life is viewed through children’s eyes, it becomes clear that societies must find the answers to the moral predicaments that they finds themselves in.

LITERARY DEVICES: Faceless by amma darko

Style/Language: The novel is divided in into three unequal partsbook one being the biggest. The story is narrated with the eye of God point of view. This is why the pronouns such as: he, she, they, it, his, her, etc., are predominant. The story is quite conversational as characters can be seen in face to face interactions.
The writing Faceless by amma darko is brilliant with simple, easy to understand Ghanaian English, interspersed with the vernacular, giving the reader a feel of Ghanaian culture and what makes her tick. The narrative style is straightforward, drawing the audience in, building tension as the author takes us through dizzying moment of intrigue and suspense to reveal the hidden truth behind the murder of Baby T.

Monologue: This is a long speech made by a character in a story especially when he or she is alone. This device is amply used by Amma Darko to portray the frustrations of Kabria caused by Creamy, the 1975 VW Beetle handed down to her by her husband, Adade. Creamy is an old, rickety car that has seen all kinds of weathers and need to be changed. It frustrates and embarrasses Kabria that she is seen on several occasions talking to it. One time, the car stops in a traffic and Kabria begs it not to disappoint her.

Flashback: This is a device used to recall past events during current events to help us understand the present. We get to know about Maa Tsurus past through a flashback provided by Naa Yomo. We equally get to know Poisons past through flashback. With this we understand what makes Maa Tsuru and Poison behave the way they do. We even sympathise with them, knowing that they are victims of circumstances.

Anticlimax: This is the arrangement of the events of a story so that they appear in descending order. The story of Faceless by amma darko begins with the death of Baby T followed by the gradual unfolding of other events that cause her death. So the story starts from where it should end.

CHARACTERISATION/ROLES : Faceless by amma darko

Baby T: Baby T is the third child of Maa Tsuru. She is sexually abused by her mothers live-in lover, Kpakpo. Confused and betrayed, she confides in a family friend and co-tenant, Onko, who takes advantage of her trust and rapes her. At the advice of Kpakpo Baby T is sent out to Maami Broni through Mama Abidjan to become a comfort woman. She is murdered by poison when she refuses to sleep with Onko who is plotting to get a strand of her pubic hair for the cleansing of his contaminated blood. Baby Ts body is dumped behind a blue Rasta Hairdressing kiosk Salon. The discovery of her dead body triggers Fofo to seek justice for her.

Maa Tsuru: Maa Tsurus mother is betrayed by the young man who impregnated her. She rained curses on him and all his descendants as life drains out of her in giving birth to the baby who will later be known as Maa Tsuru. Maa Tsuru grows up labeled as a cursed person. People distance themselves from her in her family house, where she also resides. After having two sons and two daughters with Kwei, he abandons them. Her two sons leave as soon as they are able to fend for themselves, thereby escaping the nightly moans coming from Maa Tsuru and her new live-in lover.
A new man worms his way into Maa Tsurus bed and connives with Mama Abidjan who promises to find work for Baby T through her questionable recruitment agency in exchange for periodic payments to feed Maa Tsurus new family. Maa Tsuru gives birth to two more children, bringing the number of her children to six and forcing Fofo to leave home. Maa Tsurus life is full of sorrows and regrets; she represents a typical African woman who is made miserable by the men she allowed into her life.

Kabria: Kabria is the backbone of her family. She multitasks as a mother, wife and social worker. Kabrias husband, Adade, an architect, contents himself with his work, joining co-workers to drinking spots to release tension and returning home for dinner. Kabrias children; Obea, Essie and Ottu are all in school. Each childs character is a force to reckon with, but Kabria takes care of their needs almost single-handedly. Kabria plays a crucial role in the unravelling of the mystery behind the murder of Baby T. She takes an interest in Fofos case and manages to get her organization, MUTE, to delve into it. Kabria is Fofos foil character as her family life presents a sharp contrast to Fofos and her street companions.

Fofo: Fofo is the fourth child of Maa Tsuru. She leaves home when she can no longer put up with her mothers excesses. She sets out to find justice for her sisters murder when she gets to know that Baby Ts mutilated body has been found at Agbogbloshie. In a twist of fate, she runs into Kabria who works with a non-governmental organisation named MUTE which functions as an interventionist and alternative library for every social, gender and child issues. MUTE takes an interest in Fofos case and determines to find out what led to Baby Ts death. With the help of Sylv Po, the reporter from Harvest FM, they work their way into a syndicate led by Poison, the street lord that trades in child prostitution, drugs and all manner of street crimes.

Poison: Poison was an innocent boy who ran away from home to escape the constant abuse of a drunken stepfather. He got himself caught up in a bad company. He ended up as a messenger in a brothel while working his way up by bullying, raping and murdering and is now known as Poison, the street lord―a clear case of a victim turned into a victimiser. He is the one that killed Baby T and ordered for her body to be dumped behind the Rasta Hairdressing Kiosk Salon at Agbogbloshie.

Kwei: Kwei is an unemployed mason who still lives with his mother when he should be on his own fending for himself. His relationship with Maa Tsuru is not accepted by his mother as she sees her as a cursed woman. Kwei does not listen to his mother; rather, he gets Maa Tsuru pregnant. He leaves for a greener pasture, leaving promises of a better life when he returns, and so is not around when his first child is born. However, he comes back with tales of woe and disappointment. He gets Maa Tsuru pregnant the second time and abandons her. He comes back after the birth of his second boy empty-handed, but looking like a changed man. Somehow, he manages to warm himself back into the arms of Maa Tsuru. He impregnates her yet again, but this time he becomes fed up with Maa Tsurus fecundity. He gives her the beating of her life with the sole purpose of aborting the baby, but fails. The baby is named Baby T even in the absence of her father. Kwei comes back the third time, lures Maa Tsuru into his arms, gets her pregnant and disappears for good, leaving Maa Tsuru with four children to cater for. Kwei represents the theme of parental irresponsibility.

Kpakpo: Kpakpo is another character that exemplifies the theme of parental irresponsibility. He is small in stature, but full of fraud and deceit. He makes a living by tricking people; he copllects rents from them without providing accommodation. Because of this, he is always trying to hide from his creditors.
Kpakpo takes advantage of Maa Tsuru promising her love and warming his way into her bed, and bearing two sons with her. He becomes a leech on Maa Tsuru, sucking her and her children dry. He is the first to molest Baby T one night when Maa Tsuru is away as a result of pregnancy complication. He is the one that suggested sending Baby T away to Maami Broni to cover up the shameful thing he did to Baby T. Kpakpo later abandoned Maa Tsuru with their two sons.

Onko: Onko lives in the same compound with Maa Tsuru, Naa Yomo and other tenants. Everyone in the compound sees Onko as a kind man, especially the children who usually cluster around him. After Baby T is molested by the live-in lover of her mother, she confides in Onko, but he takes advantage of her and rapes her. However, Onko continues to eye Baby T. This new situation is too much for Maa Tsuru to take, so she decides to take the advice of Kpakpo to send Baby T away.
After the raping of Baby T, Onkos furniture business begins to crumble. His customers begin to leave him until his business finally collapses. He seeks help from a native doctor and amongst the things he is asked to bring is a strand of Baby Ts pubic hair. He finds his way to Maami Broni through Kpakpo and pays Poison a huge sum of money to sleep with Baby T. Rmembering how Onko destroyed her life, Baby T refuses to sleep with him. It is while Poison is beating Baby T into submission that he murdered her. Onko commits suicide afterwards.
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