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In today’s class, we will be talking about themes and characterization of the work. Enjoy the class!
Lonely Days is principally set in Kufi, a village in southwestern Nigeria. Adeyipo village is another prominent village that features in the narrative. Adeyipo is a village in Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State and it is the author’s hometown. Within the context of this novel, the name ‘Adeyipo’ is very symbolic and significant. ‘Adeyipo’ in the Yoruba language means the crown has gone round or around. From a symbolic level of interpretation, we can say that in this novel, the author uses the name to emphasize the point that the crown of peace and happiness that came with Yaremi’s marriage to Ajumobi was replaced with a crown of thistles, thorns and sorrow after his death.
The setting is a traditional one. All the characters, except Alani who lives in the city, are village dwellers. They follow and obey the dictates of their traditions and customs as enshrined in their cultural norms and values. Most of the events of the narrative take place in Yaremi’s home, as she is the protagonist of the novel. There are references to other places in Kufi village, such as the brook, the farm and the widow’s road. Another village of note in the narrative is Oyedeji village, where Yaremi and Woye trek to, to sell their wares. It is also at Oyedeji that some people claimed to have sighted Ajumobi, after his death.
The temporal setting of Lonely Days is a post-independent one, deducible from the description of Ibadan, where Alani lives, as a place where the people “cruised about in smuggled limousine and hire-purchase Mercedes Benz”. Although Kufi is a Nigerian community, it is quite unruffled by the Whiteman’s civilization; it is a village that is still at peace with the traditions and beliefs of its ancestors. The people are ruled by traditions and the ways their forefathers handled situations; they believe in superstitions and they still sit outside their houses, on moonlit nights, to tell folktales.
As earlier noted, Lonely Days recounts the agonies of widowhood and the unjust rites that women are made to go through once they lose their husbands. Dewede, for instance, is asked to confess sins that she has not committed, Fayoyin is asked to lick libation “to purge her of all thieve sins they insisted the two had committed”. Radeke’s case is the same; she is cursed by the villagers who believe that her dirge is full of lies. Yaremi suffers thoroughly as a widow. She dines with loneliness and wines with solitude. The pains of widowhood are many and gargantuan.
LANGUAGE AND STYLE
Lonely Days consists of fourteen chapters; it also contains an Entrance Verse, a poem of twenty-five lines preoccupied with the woes of widowhood. The language of the narrative is simple and easy to understand. There is the insertion of Yoruba words into the narration as a means of foregrounding the setting of the novel as a rustic, traditionally oriented village in the Yoruba speaking parts of South Western Nigeria. The novel features a rich vocabulary on traditional life, hunting, farming, dyeing, wood carving, flute playing and a host of others. There are also descriptions of various types of birds and animal that inhabit the animal kingdom and folk tales and myths in traditional societies. Many parts of the narrative feature a prosaic-poetic use of language.
Point of view:
Bayo Adewale employs the third person omniscient point of view, whereby the narration is done not by any of the characters in the novel but by an outsider, who sees all and knows all. The narrator knows even the thoughts and plans of the characters. Thus, the presentation of the events are as perceived by a narrator who is not hindered by the lack of sufficient information, but one who knows everything happening to the characters. The reader learns about the characters and their experiences from what the narrator says and what the characters say in dialogues, which are introduced to enliven the narrative.
The use of the technique:
Flashback is employed to supply the reader with information about what had happened in the past. Yaremi’s courtship with Ajumobi is known to the reader through the writer’s employment of flashback. Also, Yaremi’s reminiscences help fill the gaps that exist in knowledge about Ajumobi who had died nine months before the narration of the story began. Other information about Yaremi’s childhood and business are provided through a flashback to those experiences.
The use of suspense:
Suspense is introduced to create an air of expectancy and curiosity in the reader. Woye’s sickness and the possible outcome are points of suspense in the novel. The reader desperately seeks to know if Woye would be well again. The cap-picking ceremony is also another suspense-filled episode in the novel. The reader is very interested in knowing whose cap Yaremi would pick; the reader shares the villagers’ surprise when Yaremi walks to the bench, stares at the caps, bows to the elders and walks away from the arena.
The use of myths and folktales:
Myths and folk tales are employed to enrich the story. The narrator tells of the myths and folk tales that are told in the village about the moon. There are also references to the stories of the tortoise who visited his in-laws’ house and “messed himself up with a mess of hot pottage in the sitting room right in front of his new life, Yanibo”; the proud antelope who lived a prince and who was eventually subdued by the hunter’s bullet; the hungry baboon who enlarged his flat nose as he tried to smell the aroma of the farmer’s wife’s melon soup; the greedy thief who died of constipation from the stolen corn that he ate and other stories about the hyena and the chicken
- Analyze three main characters in the work
- Discuss the role of women in the work.
- Discuss the language of the work.
In our next class, we will be talking about Reading and Analyzing Non-African Poetry: ”Crossing the Bar” by Alfred Lord Tennyson. We hope you enjoyed the class.
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