THE SHORT STORY AS A TOOL FOR EXPOSING SOCIAL ILLS: A CASE STUDY OF MESHACH TERFA'S THE LOCAL CHAMPION...

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This study is carried out to examine how Meshach Terfa Zayol and Chinua Achebe use their Short Stories - The Local Champion.... and Girls at War to expose the ills in the society. in carrying out the study, the researcher adopted the Theory of Social Realism which seeks to expose the imbalances of everyday-life.

Submitted: February 07, 2017

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Submitted: February 07, 2017

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THE SHORT STORY AS A TOOL FOR EXPOSING SOCIAL ILLS: A CASE STUDY OF MESHACH TERFA ZAYOL’S THE LOCAL CHAMPION AND OTHER SHORT STORIES AND CHINUA ACHEBE’S GIRLS AT WAR AND OTHER STORIES

 

BY

ODEH, BRIDGET EJUMA

BSU/AR/ENG/10/6053

 

BEING A PROJECT SUBMITTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH, FACULTY OF ARTS, BENUE STATE UNIVERSITY, MAKURDI, IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE AWARD OF BACHELOR OF ARTS DEGREE IN ENGLISH

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER, 2014

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Meaning is communicated through a number of ways: written and spoken media, which form the basis for literature. There is nothing that recreates life and the world as what they truly are than literature; and it does this through the undiluted lenses of genres: poetry, drama, and prose. The last comes in form of fiction, which must not be mistaken as false or untrue but as the most fascinating tool in the hands of the writer, from which novels, novellas, and short stories spin. The short story attracts attention to itself. As a point of reference for the genre writer, the science fiction and fantasy writers of America define short story length Nebula Awards for science fiction submission guideline as having a word count of fewer than 7,500. (6). It further notes that longer stories that cannot be called novels are sometimes considered “novellas” or novelettes, and live short stories, may be collected into the more marketable form of collections often containing previously unpublished stories.

Just like novelists use the basic elements of prose fiction such as plot, theme, setting, characters, point of view, conflict, and suspense, short story writers also employ the services of the above devices to recreate the society and expose societal ills. Although the short story is minimally peopled with characters who are made of words rather than of flesh and blood, their situations affect people like the situations of the real people would. As a concentrated form of narrative prose fiction, the short story has been theorized through the traditional elements of ‘dramatic structure’: exposition, that is the introduction of setting, situation and main characters; complication, that is the event that introduces the conflict. Also theorized is the ‘rising action’ crisis (the decisive moment for the protagonist and his commitment to a course of action). ‘Climax’ (the point of highest interest in terms of the conflict and the point with the most action), and ‘resolution’ (the point when the conflict is resolute). Because of their length, nowadays, some may or may not follow this pattern. A case in point is seen in modern short stories which only occasionally have an exposition, more typically beginning in the middle of the action.

As with longer stories, according to Williams (47), plot of short stories also have a climax, crisis, or turning point. Alexander Margurite (27), Best Steven and Kellner Douglas (76-77), Poster Mark (93), Derrida Jacques (31), Miller Hillis (134), Fisher Philip (49), Mapp Nigel (877) however agree that the endings of many short stories are abrupt and open and may or may not have a moral or practical lesson. Genette Gerard, Todorov Tzvetan, Miller Hillisi Suleiman Susan and Crossman Lange, and Tompkins Jane note that as with any art forms, the exact characteristics of a short story will vary by creator. However, they sum that short stories tend to be less complex than novels. Usually a short story focuses on one incident; has a single plot, a single setting, and a small number of characters, and covers a short period of time. It is worthy of note that the modern short story form draws on oral story-telling traditions, the brief moralistic narratives of parables and fables, besides the prose anecdote, all of these being forms of a swiftly sketched situation that quickly comes to its point. This short nature of the short story helps the society to read unencumbered, unfettered, and unregulated and reap the rich craft of societal ills diagnosed by the short story writers. The greatest practitioners of the short story genre, as submitted by Asso, include a long list as Edgar Allan poe, Fitz Gerald, Ernest Fisher, Lyol Toistoy, Mck Allan Person, Graham Green, George Orwell, George Luis Borges, John Cheever, Raymond Carver, and the short story writers under study-Chinua Achebe and Zayol Terfa. These authors, through their short stories, have diagnosed the societal maladies and brought them for proper treatment. As is the wont of a work of such persuasion, the short story recreates society in its raw human nature. It deviates from everyday extrapolation, thus, challenging the readers to some mental soul-searching in order to decode the massages that are hidden in the text or story. This study discusses the short story as a tool for exposing social ills a study of Zayol, Meshech Terfa’s The Local Champion and other Short Stories and Chinua Achebe’s Girls At War and Other Stories. This is viewed through the lenses of socialist Realism – Realism is a critical movement that took over from Romanticism in the nineteenth century. In relation to social realism, Achebe’s “The Madman” “The voter”, and “Civil peace” and Terfa’s “The Local Champion”, “The Mysterious Cortina”, and “Appeasement” are analyzed as tools for exposing social ills.

BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

This study will explore the notion of the short story as a tool for exposing social ills in Zayol Terfa’s The Local Champion… and Chinua Achebe’s Girls At War and other stories. The choice of these books by these authors is due to the scarcity of the critics written about them. For Achebe, all the focus and attention went to his novels leaving out his short stories which are interesting to study especially that they represent different points of time in Achebe’s life as a writer. And for Terfa, it might largely be due to the fact that he is just a fresh voice in the literary screen. The research specially studies three short stories from the two texts by these authors; some of which deal with war and their relationship to the study’s main topic of exposure of societal ills. These stories are…As far as the rest of the collections go, the researcher will be analyzing the use of the short story as an important tool that Terfa and Achebe utilize to pass on their critical views of the society. Societal ills are prevalent in the whole collection which makes it difficult not to touch upon them while studying Terfa’s The Local Champion…and Achebe’s Girls At War and Other Stories.

The authors use irony which is one of the most important features of the African short story. Many critics such as Killam and Balogun state in their writings that African short story writers are fond of irony for three different reasons in addition to the aesthetic one.

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Having consulted many critical studies on Chinua Achebe’s works, it is discovered that many critics are given to the exclusive preoccupation with Achebe’s novels, consequently deflecting attention away from his work as a short-story writer and as a writer of children’s fiction. Zayol Terfa, on the order hand, is another upcoming voice, though fully made, has not been researched upon as it should, especially as a realistic techno-thriller is only as thrilling as its realness – his gut-churning stories were any realer, their plots turn, twistingly solidifying his reputation as a skilled thriller writer. This research discovers this gap and intends to fill it, perhaps, those works explore the relationship between the short story and the society and the role the former plays in reshaping the ills of the latter through exposition of literary works by the authors.

Exposing social ills can be broadly defined in a manner that is applicable to all historical periods as an act of giving a detailed account of somebody or something, revealing a truth that has been hidden about them. It is a portrait or catalogue of the evils ranging from the darkness of a man’s heart, political maladministration, socio-economic disorders, capitalist imperialism, oppression, and exploitation occasioned by a person or group of persons against a group or the society. It is an ongoing malady or process that has been going on since the dawn of history. This is evident in Robert Green’s (74) postulation that a thousand years ago; we humans elevated ourselves above the animal world and never looked back. Figuratively speaking, the key to this evolutionary advance was our powers of vision: language, and the ability to reason that it gave us, let us see more of the world around us. Somewhere along the line, however, we stopped evolving as rational creatures. Despite our progress there is always a part of us that remains animal, and that animal part can respond only to what is most immediate in our environment-this is, perhaps, what drives man to effortlessly and endlessly demonstrate cruelty captured as societal ills.

This research therefore is concerned with the role of the short story in creating social awareness from the lenses of portrait and the style in which the literary artist consciously and artistically draws upon the collective social psyche, invests these materials with literary life and creates a new consciousness which can help in exposing social ills in a given social setting. In effect, therefore, the research seeks to study the inter-connectedness of the short story and exposure or portrait in the works of the greatest and skilled practitioners of the act of the short story genre of prose fiction – Zayol Terfa and Chinua Achebe.

OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

Portraying these ills and sensitizing members of the society to the presence there of has for ages been recognized as one of the primary roles of literature or the short story. As an art form that strives to encapsulate the collective consciousness of a people or society, the short story records, artistically, and transmits the historical and cultural traditions besides generating lessons for the society and humanity in general. This draws us to the question of the role of the literary artist or short story writer. No matter the persuasion or form the artist adopts as a medium, one thing is sure – the literary artist is a voice that seeks to deliver a massage, propagates an ideology or exposes an ill for the benefit and consumption and the good of the general society.

 

THE SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The scope of this research shall be limited to textual analysis of the six selected short stories: three chosen from Zayol Terfa’s The Local Champion…and three from Chinua Achebe’s Girls at War…These short stories- “The Local Champion”, “The mysterious Cortina”, and “Appeasement”; “The Madman”, “The Voter” and “Civil Peace”, serve as primary sources for this study.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

Over the years, human beings have been faced with the uncertainty of what goes on in the minds of other human beings. The fear and the idea that people are mysteriously impenetrable, cruel, insincere, disguise their true feelings skillfully, forms the basis of writing in the most specialized genre of prose fiction – the short story, whose significance is to: educate, entertain, inform, enlighten, and create conscious effect to expose human ills which have for ages agitated the mind of man in the society. This work is a contribution to the growing number of essays and commentaries on the works of the world’s renowned authors and short story – Girls At War and The Local Champion, The Mysterious Cortina, and Appeasement, grapple with exposure or portrait of evils in the society and how this can go a long way in sensitizing their readers and the general society to the importance or relevance of the short story in society. The fact that no one, known to me, has, either exactly written or alluded to these short stories by these authors on this similar topic, hones the indispensible significance of this study. What’s more, the short stories under review, chosen in relation to exposing social ills, like the ocean’s tide, ebb and flow so fastidiously powerful that no one on their path evince or escape their pulsating pull against them. It is the researcher’s profound wish that the study will add value to other generation of writer’s already accumulated store of knowledge about the dynamics of the short story as a tool for exposing ills in the society.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

This study dwells on socialist Realism: Realism is a literary theory that took over from Romanticism in the nineteenth century. As Peter Widdowson observers, (73), the theory addressed certain major questions about the evolution of literature, its reflection of class relations and it function in society. He further opines that the modernist rejection of traditional realism paradoxically left socialist realism as the leading custodian of bourgeois aesthetics.

Realism employs serious realistic means of responding to the society. The objectives are first of all the subject matter that realism should adopt, and secondary, how the writings of realism ought to be. Realism wants characters to respond to the proper status and the ages within which those literary works are set to reflect the period while the technique adopted reflects concrete realism. Realism was a response to the industrial revolution which had polarized society by creating social classes in which, while the rich owned economic forces of capital, land, and machinery, the lot of the masses was in poverty.

In literary criticism, the ideas of Marx are summed up in what is called socialist Realism. The most familiar type of ‘motivation’, according to Widdowson, is what we usually call ‘Realism’. No matter how formally constructed a work may be, we still often expect it to give us the illusion of the ‘real’. We expect literature to be ‘life-like’, and may be irritated by characters or descriptions which fail to match our common sense expectations of what the real world is like. Complementing this view, Widdowson posits that ‘A man in love wouldn’t behave like that’ and ‘people of that class wouldn’t talk like that’ are the kind of remarks we might make when we notice a failure of realistic motivation, hence the idea of socialist realism (35).

Social Realism is a style of realistic art that was developed in the Soviet Union and became a dominant style in other socialist countries. It is a teleological-oriented style having as its purpose the furtherance of the goal of socialism and communism, often glorifies the roles of the meek and working class and the struggle for its emancipation. The term also holds that the masses demand of an artist honesty, truthfulness, and a revolutionary representation of the proletarian revolution. This concept emphasis the following: The Judgment of a text from the point of class relations usually on the side of the working class; the concept also underscores the idea of accessibility, that is, a work of art should be simple enough to be understood by the masses; the text should promote unity among the people.

DEFINITION OF TERMS

A Short Story: To echo the words of Asoo, the Short Story is a specialized form of prose fiction which requires specialized skills. It is a profound statement about man, society, and about the conditions of humanity in general. Erich Averbach, Louis Althusser, Pierre macherey, Raymond Williams, and Brecht observe that the short story is a story with a fully developed theme but significantly shorter and less elaborate than a novel. Brecht further posits that to capture the living force of reality, the writer must be willing to make use of every conceivable formal device, old and new in his rendition of the short story genre. The free Encyclopedia defines a short story “[as] a brief work of literature, usually written in narrative prose”. There exists a consensus that determining what exactly separates a short story from longer fictional formats is problematic. Albeit, a classical definition of a short is that one should be able to read it in a sitting, a point most notably made in Edgar Allan Poe’s Essay “Thomas le Moniteau (le Moile) (124). The contention behind the standard interpretation nowadays is problematic, since the expected length of “one sitting” may now be briefer than it was in Poe’ era. Other definitions place the maximum word count of the short story as anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000. In contemporary usage, the term short story most often refers to a work of fiction no shorter than 1,000 and no longer than 20,000 words or five to twenty pages. This explains why stories, as Asoo observes, of fewer than 1,000 words are sometimes called or referred to as “short short stories” and those far more than that are sometimes referred to as “long short stories. (Unpublished lecture series)

Tool: - The free Encyclopedia defines a tool as “[a]ny physical item that can be used to achieve a goal, especially if the item is not consumed in the process”.

Exposing social ills: - Can be broadly defined in a manner that is applicable to all historical periods as an act of giving a detailed account of somebody or something, revealing a truth that has been hidden about them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

Preamble

This chapter deals with critics’ views on Zayol Meshach Terfa’s The Local Champion and Other Short Stories, and Chinua Achebe’s Girls at War and Other Stories. The review shall base on the critics’ views in relation to the concept of realism, social realism to be specific.

The Local Champion and Other Short Stories by Zayol Meshach Terfa

This collection of short stories is written by a young and up-coming literary writer of the contemporary time whose work reflects the country, Nigeria with its attendants’ social ill of everyday life. This is because, at independence and in the post independence, the realities of human condition and, or contemporary realities are the basis for African literature, be it poetry, drama or prose. As Balogun puts it: “African literature explores the realities of human condition in Africa in totality and it speculates what is and what is not to be. In so doing, the minds of the people are sharpened and sensitized towards qualitative change” (13).

Commenting on Terfa’s The Local Champion and Other Short Stories; Joshua Agbo posits that “this collection of short stories is a cicatrix, the coming of age of Terfa in the literary world as the stories are all-time good. They draw the reader to themselves like the light attracting the moth to itself” (qtd in Terfa, ix). Agbo’s assertion is correct hence the main purpose of this trend of writers is to awake the required consciousness in fellow Africans for positive changes, which will keep the continent alive. It is not too surprising therefore that the sociological approach to literature is the most appropriate platform since it also accommodates a bland of other related approaches such as anthropological approach, psychological or moralist approach among norms and values to keep the society in-tact. Because of the in-relocking relationship between literature and society, it is evident that the society needs literature for its continuing existence and development as zayol Terfa has demonstrated in his work.

According to Bivan Amos, “Terfa is not only a disinterested explicator of nature, but its legislator...” (qtd in Terfa, ix). Queen Adagu concurs this when she says “Terfa’s intriguing craft marks him out as an author with a solid grounding in modes of writing which satisfies the significantly elevated high level of critical expectation raised by professional expectation raised by professionally experimental writing” (ix).

 In her comment about Terfa, and his work Maria Ajima views it as:

… a fresh voice that captures the mood sand swing of an authentic rural community vibrating in its raw humanity carrying a deep and maturing insight into life that can with other souls across the globe. There is biting satire in these ever engaging stories that not only tickles the reader’s humorous senses but also offers insights into true human nature. There is no doubt that Terfa’s voice bears a great promise. (qtd in Terfa, vii)

Ajima’s position is correct hence a realist writer especially socialist realist always identifies with his community and is concerned with portraying the truthfulness of the issues of the everyday human life in his literary work. This is because; in the view point of a social realist, life is best discussed based on reality; in fact, he tries to expose those evils in the human life or society and brings ways in which it should be done. This is to say that they see life in the view point of George Lukas who views that”…any meaningful discussion of the concept must be in line with a defined sympathy with the down trodden” (6).

Talking about The Local Champion and Other Short Stories as a social realist work, Tyokase as quoted in Terfa says that;

Zayol Meshach Terfa’s collection presents a variety of craft that recognizes and succeeds in stimulating the voices the African continent. These aesthetically rich collections of stories explore socially relevant themes of conflict and peace-building, afterlife, marriage, wisdom, greed… He is a voice to listen to (ix).

Another scholar who has commented on Terfa’s work is Wada Ibrahim. To him, Terfa is a writer that gives a deep insight into the complexities of human motives, existence actions and behaviour under stressful circumstances.

He writes: “Terfa’s collection is a compelling pack of narrative on life threatening issues. His greatest asset is seen in his words which detain the reader hung on his every word; hence, once started, the reader is gripped to follow his mind in a thrill of suspense, action besides ultimately unresolved future” (x).  

In view of the above, it can be seen that Ibrahim’s words on Terfa is highly appreciable because of his in-depth examination of realism in his work, The Local Champion and Other Short Stories.

With the use of their works, African writers like Terfa condemn the follies and the vices in their societies. They frown at corruption, bad governance, repressive policies woman oppression, moral decadence and societal disturbances such as religious intolerant, with a view to making positive changes, which might accelerate human and material development in Africa and the world at large. It is in view of this that Sikiru Adeyemi asserts that “The primary aim of these committed African writers is the genuine struggle for cultural and socio-political revolution using literary activities as a platform” (17). This is so because the different peoples of the world are made to understand the African world view through writing both now and before independence.

According to Fashamo Denis, “This piece is an absolute artistic creation of the secondary world from the primary seasoned with tangible realities highly structured with the Tiv world- view through the art of storytelling” (qtd in Terfa, xi).

Fashamo’s assertion is quite true since Tiv people and every tribe in Africa give the art of story-telling a priority.

In scholarly studies over the years, the inter-relationship between literature and society has been strongly attested. The writer or artist is an individual subject to emotions and feelings and he/she is a product of certain social make-ups in which literary work is potentially a response. Sartre observes thus, “The writer has no means of escape, we want him to embrace his time closely, and it is his lot: it is made for it” (18).

Moses Gande also has his views on Terfa’s masterpiece. To him, “…a very sensitive reader and master of creativity, Terfa is trustworthiness personified as his gripping phrases condense the reader into a pleasure gloom brooding motionless start from the first page to the last” (qtd in Terfa, x1). While concurring to Gande’s view, Anita Tor also says “Terfa weaves a consistently amusing and intellectually stimulating narrative that generates phobia for rib-clutching as though one were hosted on Night-of-a- Thousand Laugh comedy show”(x).

Looking at the work in a different direction, Theophilus T.T views that; “Zayol Meshach Terfa is an innovative Awards-winning writer and critic who has effectively deployed flashback and condensed diction to illuminate the symbolic use of the past as the foundation of the present which wins the ticket for successfully wading through the steal of the future” . In George Becker’s submission, there are three qualifying words which a realist writer must consider to construct his theme; the subject must be popular social, and modern. And this is exactly what Terfa has done in The Local Champion and Other Short Stories. In this narrative, Terfa goes deep into the society and brings out those themes that affect in day-to-day life in the modern world. By way of consolidating on the point, Becker cites Harper whose view rhymes with his as follows; “no living theme is excluded from fiction by modern realism. The reality is in the writer’s vision rather than in the selection of this or that particular theme. He must see plainly without coloured glasses or magnifying lenses or without national distortion” (48). Realist literature therefore, always reflects the contemporary societal ills as can be seen in the comments by other scholars on the author in question.

Chinua Achebe’s Girls at War and Other stories

 The work deals with some critics’ view on the work in question, though this review is not extensively done hence the researcher finds only a few existing literature on the work. This is so because, all the focus and attention went to Achebe’s novels leaving out his short stories which are interesting to study especially that they represent different points of time in Achebe’s life as a writer.

The researcher chooses this work based on the fact that its author (Achebe) has long being recognized for his skill in combining western social and political ideologies with Igbo proverbs and other issues in Nigeria and Africa. From Things Fall Apart (1958); No longer at Ease, to other works of literary creation, he always writes about societal issues, and Girls at War and Other stories is not an exception.

Written between 1952 and 1972, this short story fiction covers late British colonization and the disintegration of old tribal customs to the political turmoil of the Biafran war in Nigeria.

According to Uzoechi Nwagbara:

Girls at War and Other Stories reveals the essence of life in Nigeria and traces twenty years in literary career of one of the twentieth century’s most acclaimed writers. In this collection of stories, which display an astonishing range of experience, Chinua Achebe takes us inside the ideals which must be complete with the simple struggle to survive. Hailed by critics everywhere, Achebe’s fiction re-creates with energy and authenticity the major issues of daily life in Africa (22).

It is possible to use art as a weapon or an instrument to fight against repressive policies, blind cultural practices and other societal vices so as to develop the society which paves the way for its creation and eventual production. Ogundokun S.A confirms this when he says; “Art is a weapon for fighting oppressive ideologies such as capitalism, fascism and other totalitarian hegemonic structures” (6).

In his view on Achebe’s Girls at War and Other Stories, Morrison, J. says that:

As a country enters a secular era, the populace has the sensation that the spirits of the past disappear. They become academic topics rather than sources of spiritual enlightenment. The work of Chinua Achebe, however, does not share this view point. The stories are set in the immediate aftermath of the struggle for Nigerian independence, around 1960, but the character is still beholden to the gods of old (21).

 Another reviewer, Ojinmah, U. describes Girls at War and Other Stories as a collection that “provides an interesting cross –section of Achebe’s work and the development of his key themes and distinctive style” against the significant historical and political backdrop of Africa in the decades between 1952 1972” (17). To support this view, Sougou, O. posits that “Achebe illuminated the path for writers around the world seeking new words and forms for realities and societies” (12).

Commenting on Girls at War and Other Stories, Udummukwu, Okonkwo has this to say:

This is another fruit of his literary brilliance. It’s a collection of short stories. Set in Nigeria Igbo culture. The stories run through the Biafran war. Before, during; and after…The narrative is economical and muscular-concise sentence that hold more words than are written. The characters are colourful and different, giving a deeper look into their lives than one would  expect from stories only a few pages long…(17).

Achebe is widely known for his appropriation of precursory artistic elements in his art. Thus, he is able to retrieve fascinating antecedent works to espouse his philosophical outlook, i.e., his belief in the cyclical theory of history. In the view point of kehinde Aloko, “This narrative is...[a] characteristic of the coleridgean ‘suspension of disbelief’ underwrites a writer to inject what Coleridge calls “human interest and a semblance of truth” into a piece of fiction thereby making a reader to suspend judgment concerning implausibility”(30).

In his view on the work under study, Jago Morrison further states that:

[…] Chinua Achebe is also known to recast the motion of “commitment” so often associated his writing…a writer’s willingness to hold firm to the personal and the aesthetic-a writer’s willingness to hold firm to the truth of his vision, the authenticity of his language to his own artistic integrity (137).

In this same train of thought, Nwachukwu-Agbadi’s statement corroborates the nature of Achebe’s fiction: “Achebe’s reflection… paves the way to understand his [Girls at War and Other Stories] as opening up the authentic grounds for social and political re-storying and reinvention in the post colonial context”(195).

 Perhaps, Nelson Mandela, while recalling his time as a political prisoner, once referred to Chinua Achebe as “a writer in whose company the prison walls fell down”. This line of description is echoed by the South African writer Nadine Gordimer who confirms that “Achebe has achieved what one of his characters brilliantly defines as the writer’s purpose: a new-found utterance for the capture of life’s complexity” (qtd in Oyegoke, 32). The description of Achebe by Schowatter earlier mentioned is similarly rendered by Robert Gibson as he says: “the Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe is now reversed as master by the young generation of African writer and it is to him they regularly turn for counsel and inspiration” (qtd in Udumukwu, 22).

 

Realism Reviewed

Realism is a concept that deals with the attitudinal factors in day-to-day life. One of its features is the environment which serves an integral element for the development of the theory. The theory realism tends to describe life without any form of idealism or romantic subjectivity. Therefore, it opposed those theories such as classicism, and romanticism as it accuses them of not being concerned with the real world but focusing on fallacies of art. Realism is precisely what it sounds like. It is attention to detail, an effort to replicate the true nature of reality in a way that novelists had never attempted. According to writers like William Harmon, and Hugh Holman, “Where romanticists plumb the actual or the superficial to find the scientific law  that controls its actions, realists center their attention to a more remarkable degree on the immediate, the here and now, the specific action and the verifiable consequence” (425).

Realist writers however, are concerned with portraying the truthfulness of the issues of the everyday human life in their works. This is because, in their view point, life is best discussed based on reality, in fact, they try to expose those evils in the human life or in the society and bring ways in which it should be done. This is to say that the see life in the view point of George Lukas who views that “… any meaningful discussion of the concept must be in line with a defined sympathy with the down trodden” (6).

Realism in effect, seeks to disguise its own status as artifice, and tries to force language into transparency through an appeal to our ideological constructed sense of the real, thus, leaving us to be addressed in such a way that we begin to say “yes, that is how it really is”.

Still, in talking about realism, David Huck has it that “everything in that story can conceivably have happened to real people living in our natural physical world. Contemporary realism focuses on the problems of living today” (Quoted in Asoo, 20). This in essence means that realism focuses on day-to-day happenings around humans in the physical world that we find around us. Thus, realism can best be described as the watch dog of the people, since it expresses whatever it comes into contact with, both positive and negative, and directly or indirectly.

Realism coincided with Victorianism, yet was distinct collection of aesthetic principles in its own right. The realist prose was heavily informed by journalistic techniques, such as objectivity and fidelity to the facts of the matter. It is not a coincidence that many of the better known writers of the time had concurrent occupations in the publishing industry. The Victorian period saw a growing concern with the plight of the less fortunate in society, and the realist work likewise turned its attention on subjects that forehand would not have warranted notice. The balancing act that the upwardly mobile middle class had to perform in order to retain their position in the world was a typical subject for realistic works. There arose a sub-genre or realism called social realism, which in hindsight can be interpreted as Marxist and socialist ideals set forth in literature. This genre of realism deals or exposes the ills of everyday life in the society with a sense of proffering solutions to them.

The prevalence of African writers to deal with societal vices such as bribery, and corruption in their works encourages them to drop the doctrine of art for art’s sake in their works. This is because, in the view point of Africans, art is not only for its sake; because the practical problems of life are always the first concern. A writer’s inspiration comes from society itself.

Terfa, and Achebe are regarded as realist writers and their collection The Local Champion and Other Short Stories, and Girls at War and Other Stories have been as a perfection of African landscape of their time. These short works select facts and details from ordinary life. They create an illusion of reality which creates a picture of a world that is closely resemblance of our own. The research makes use of realism because realism is the best tool for analyzing human behaviour.  These two collections can be seen as principle literary vehicles for analyzing the life in Africa as they evoke the ways and attributes of people and how the total life of an individual is attracted by the condition in which he lives.

CRITICAL REALISM

Going by Asso’s assertion, “critical realism is one of the many forms of realism which includes socialist realism, surrealism, Marxist realism among others. The historical development of critical realism, can be traced to the 1850s, but it did not gain prominence until the 19th century” (17). The basics of critical realism at its inception were to show profound sympathy for the common people. It portrayed the greed and hypocrisy of the upper classes in contrast with the honesty and good-heartedness of the obscure “simple people” of the lower classes. As a result humor was often used to stress the fine qualities of their positive characters.

Critical realism according to Margaret Archer “is the theory which attempts to capture the reality of the society without subjectivity” (17). In relation to Archer’s assertion Luckas sees critical realism as to “point to a new kind of socially conscious post colonial subjectivity, one based on professional expertise rather than revolutionary vision” (75). This is to say that for a critical realist, their works do not point to revolution but rather evolution or reformism. This is what makes critical realism different from socialist realism.

Critical realist often start with a powerful exposure of the ugliness of the bourgeois world in their work,  but such usually have happy endings or an impotent compromise at the end which can be said to  be said to be the strength and weakness of critical realism.

Socialist realism

Closely related to critical realism is socialist realism. Often times to understand socialist realism better, it is necessary if it is contrasted with critical realism.

Socialist realism differs from critical realism, not only in being based on a concrete socialist perspective, but also in using this perspective to describe the forces working towards socialism from the inside. Socialist society is seen as an independent entity, not simply as a foil to capitalist society, or as a refuge from its dilemmas, as with those critical realists who have come closest to embracing socialism. Even more important is the treatment of those social forces leading toward socialism. Socialism further aims to locate those forces scientifically, just as socialist realism is concerned to locate those human qualities which make for creation of a new social order.

Furthermore, a socialist realism is created with the opportunity to see the society and history for what they are. According to George Lukas “socialist realism is a possibility rather than an actually” (82). This is tom say that socialist realism unlike critical realism does more than just represent or describe reality; it goes a step further to present possibilities for a better society.

Socialist realism is also characterized by revolutionary tendency. It seeks to carry out the task of ideological transformation. Like Maxwell Adereth puts it “… committed realism necessarily implies that literature does more than simply mirror the world; it actively intervenes in other to change it” (22).to change the world is the primary aim of socialist realism.

A socialist realist also believes that the masses are the agents of change and his aim is to educate the masses to act. Adereth further states that “… for socialist realism, the truthful depiction of the world is not end itself… it is but the masses by which the artist instills in his readers the will to act” (23). This is to say that socialist realism does not limit itself to basically the representation of reality like critical realism does but it goes further to encourage the populace to act.

REPRESENTATIONAL REALISM

Representational realism was developed by John Locke. According to Locke, “there is a typically employed distinction between real and that which represent the real as it’s sign or symbol” (98). This branch was developed from his idea of perception. To him the world can be perceived in two qualities which are primary and secondary qualities. The shape, sign and location of an object would all be considered as some of its primary qualities. These qualities are objective because they are perceived as the same to everyone. Secondary qualities are the attributes that the perceiver brings to the other hand are subjective because not everyone has the same taste or sense of smell. It is upon these ideas that Locke built his idea of representational realism. He believes that instead of actually experiencing the world first hand we indirectly experience it through representation.

The aim of representational realism is to mirror reality, that does not necessary mean that the picture portrayed is fully accurate to what is really in existence, but the aim is to capture reality as close as possible to how it is perceived or can be perceived, which also has more to do with different perspectives of different individuals on how they perceive the reality around them.

IMAGINATIVE REALISM

The imaginative realism is an aspect of realism that explores the powers of the individuals that is drawn from the exploration of his creative source. It is the social framework for knowing and expressing the self. The power to be able to express the ‘unsayable’ as according to Schostak “as soon as the ‘unsayable’ is represented in words, the power to0 express, be heard and engage with others is brought to life” (82). This is to say that imagination can be only what it is but once expressed, it is given a form of existence.

Realism obtained through different subject’s position always begins from an idea or a thought which gradually makes up for the creative capability of an individual. The power of an individual’s imagination is what is capable of bringing to life the forms of realism.

 From the foregoing, it is observed that for Nigerian writers, writing does not exist in a vacuum; every piece of fiction refracts truthfully the situation and realities in Nigeria as can be seen in Achebe’s work under study by other scholars. This “veracious artistic faithfulness is what Wellek and Warren call “The reflection of reality” (239).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 CHAPTER THREE

TEXTUAL ANALYSIS

Preamble

This chapter is an analysis of the two primary texts of the study, Girls at War and Other Stories by Chinua Achebe and Zayol Meshach Terfa’s The Local Champion and Other Short Stories. In Achebe’s work, the researcher will analyze “The Madman, “The Voter” and “Civil Peace”, while in Terfa’s “The Local Champion”, “The Mysterious Cortina” and “Appeasement” will be analyzed. The analysis of these short stories will be based on the authors’ use of realism in the works.

Biography of Chinua Achebe

Achebe was born in the town of Ogidi in eastern Nigeria on November 16, 1930, the fifth child of Isaiah Okafor Achebe and Janet Iloegbunam Achebe. His father was an instructor in Christian catechism for the Church Missionary Society. Nigeria was a British colony during Achebe’s early years and educated English-speaking families like the Achebe’s occupied a privileged position in the Nigerian power structure. His parents even named him Albert, after Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria of Great Britain.

 

Chinua Achebe is considered by many critics and teachers to be the most influential African writer of his generation. His writings including the novel Things Fall Apart, has introduced readers throughout the world to the creative use of language, as well as to factual internal account of pre-colonial African life and history. Not only through his literary contributions but also through his championing of bold objectives for Nigeria and Africa, Achebe has helped reshape the perception of African history, culture, and place in world affairs. Achebe’s first novel, Things Fall Apart, is recognized as a literary classic and is taught and read everywhere in the English-speaking world. The novel has been translated into at least forty-five languages and has sold several million copies. A year after publication, the book won the Margaret Wong Memorial Prize, a major literary award.

In addition to his writing career, Achebe maintained an active teaching career. In 1972, he was appointed to a three-year visiting professorship at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and, in 1975, to a one-year visiting professorship at the University of Connecticut. In 1976, with calm restored in Nigeria, he returned as a Professor of English to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. In 1990, he became the Charles P. Stevenson, Jr., professor of literature at Bard College, Annandale, New York.

Achebe received many awards from academic and cultural institutions around the world. In 1959, he won the Margaret Wong Memorial Prize for Things fall Apart. The following year, after the publication of its sequel, No Longer At Ease, he was awarded the Nigerian National Trophy for Literature. His book of poetry, ‘Christmas in Biafra’’, written during the Nigerian civil war, won the first Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1972. Achebe was awarded honorary degrees by more than twenty universities in Great Britain, Canada, Nigeria, and the United States. He died on March 21, 2013. At the ripe age of 82.

Content Analysis

  “The Madman”

Every literary work is a product of a particular period in a writer’s life. This is because a writer is inspired by the experience of his or her society. In Achebe’s “The Madman”, he discusses the prevalent issue of colonialism. How the colonizers came as mad people and dispossessed Africa of her resources in the name of colonialism.

Thus, “The Madman” is a political satire which condemns the post-independence condition of affairs in African States. Nwibe, the major character symbolizes Africa possibly Nigeria. In the story, Nwibe is being pursued by a madman who represents the colonialists. This is just the way colonialist pursued Africans in their own countries in the name of colonialism. To build up his message Achebe brings in the issue of violence among Africans themselves as was the case during colonial times. In the story Nwebi’s family involves in a quarrel just because of a dog and this reflects the true nature of the life of African who always quarrel for one minor reason or the other especially in a polygamous family. This quarrel involves Mgboye, a first wife to Nwibe with a junior wife, Udenkwo as the narrative voice says:

That very morning Udenkwo had accused her of spite and all kinds of wickedness on account of a little dog.

‘What has a little dog done to you? She screamed loud enough for half the village to hear ‘I ask you Mgboye, is that he put his- shit mouth into my soup pot.’

‘And  then?’

 ‘And then I smacked him.’

‘You smacked him! Why don’t you cover a pot? Is it easier to hit a dog than cover a pot? Is a small puppy to have more sense than a woman who leaves her soup-pot about…? (4)

In order for a work of art to have a strong response from the receptors, it has to have a strong element of reality. Achebe in “The Madman” shows the picture of the African man who does not care for the success of his fellow man. Achebe views his thematic concerns above the stylistic concerns. He therefore does not put himself under any kind of pressure to follow any kind of ideology.

“The Voter”

In today’s world, it is thought that money can buy everything and can give one anything desired, because, contemporary world has become too much materialistic, people are always concerned about how much money to earn, how much ‘world’ they can buy among other things.

Portraying this contemporary belief in his work, Achebe talks about a wealthy man, Rufus, a politician who gets to the social ladder when he is involved in politics:

The villagers had had five years in which to see how quickly and plentifully politics brought wealth, Chieftaincy titles, doctorate degrees and other honours some of which, like the last, had still to be explained satisfactorily to them; for in their naivety they still expected doctor to be able to heal the sick. (12)

Our leaders now go into politics because they want to amass wealth as soon as possible since politics is a fast means to richness. In the story, the narrating voice also portrays this belief when it says:

Their point was that only the other day Marcus Ibe was not too successful mission school teacher. Then politics had come to their village and he had wisely joined up, some said just in time to avoid imminent dismissal arising from a female teacher’s pregnancy. Today he was chief the Honourable; he had two long cars and had just built himself the biggest house anyone had seen in these parts. (12)

The coalescence of literature and truth cannot be glossed over; the quotidian deployment of art by writers to refract truth in our society is a case in point. Nigerian writers have appropriated literature to give expression to the socio-historical malaise that buffets the nation as well as harnessed it to give man a platform to know what is happening around his world in order to move in such world. This is quite pronounced in the Nigerian literary works, which chronicle social facts in the polity.

The activities of our politicians today to win elections at all cost have contributed to the high level immunity ensuring in the political arena. This is seen when Roof talks to the elders of Umuofia as he says: “Go cast your paper for enemy if you like!” (15). Like our politicians today, the enemy Roof had referred to is the Progress Organization Party (POP) which had been formed by the tribes down the coast to save themselves, as the founders of the party proclaimed, from ‘total political, cultural, social and religious annihilation. Although it is clear “the party had no chance here it had plunged, with typical foolishness, into a straight fight with PAP, providing cars and loud-speakers to a few local rascals and thugs to go around and make a lot of noise” (15). Members of thugs are predominantly youths (male and females). If youths who are the leaders of tomorrow are deeply entrenched in violence and intimidation by unpopular and selfish politicians to gain access into power, political instability may become the order of the day. It is because of this that Achebe in his work exposes this menace for the society to amend.

“Civil Peace”

Nigeria is caught by the web of social ills such as bribery, corruption, bad leadership, political violence, armed robbery, to mention but a few. This has made Nigerian writers reflect these ills in their works in order for the society to see and change for the better. That is why Balogun stresses that: “… the realities of human condition and, or contemporary realities are the basis for African literature be it poetry, drama or prose. African literature explores the reality of human condition in Africa in totality and it speculates what is and what is not to be. In so doing, the minds of the people are sharpened and sensitized towards qualitative change” (qtd in Sikiru, 14).

In “Civil Peace,” Achebe talks about the human suffering in the society. In doing this, he creates the character of Jonathan who in the story is portrayed as a very poor man. Achebe in this story talks about the experiences of the war time which the victims, Jonathan as one of the victims is affected by this war as “He had come out of the war with five inestimable blessings-his head, his wife Maria’s and the head and the heads of three out of their four children” (82).

The issue of insecurity is also accounted to by the activities of armed robbers who connive with the security agents to torment the populace is also portrayed in this story. The thieves who attacked Jonathan’s house are left uncaught as the police who are supposed to protect the lives and property of the citizens do not respond even as Jonathan and his wife call. In fact, this is a true reflection of the society we live in.

Form Analysis

Setting

Setting according to Okoye is “the historical time, place, social circumstances, the general locale, background or the particular location s in which the events in a drama,[short story], or  novel takes place” (29). In Girls at War and Other Stories, the geographical setting is traced to the eastern part of Nigeria in a village of Omoufia. Talking about the social setting, the stories are traced to 1967-1970 when Nigeria engaged in a civil war.

Point of View

This technique in literature means the way a story gets told- the mode or perspective established by the author by means of whom the reader is presented with the characters, actions, setting, and events which constitute the narrative in a work of fiction. In Girls at War and Other Stories, Achebe employs the use of Third person narrative point of view to pass his message to his audience. In doing this, he uses such pronouns like she, he, they e.t.c. that is to say in other words that his narrator is all -knowing, therefore he narrates the story for every character.

A Brief Biography of ZAYOL, MESHACH TERFA

Zayol, Meshach Terfa was born on the 25th of December, 1990 into a peasant family and was educated at Ute primary school and Government Secondary School Torkula. He immediately, after the secondary education gained admission into the prestigious Benue State University, Makurdi and graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts B.A English. In 2011-2012, he served at Federal Government College, Daura as a National Youth Service Corps member. During his one year service, he was the President/Editor-In-Chief, Editorial Board, C.D.S, N.Y.S.C, Katina, and Editor-In-Chief, National Association of Catholic Corpers, Katsina State chapter. A one-time Television presenter and Editorial consultant, besides External Editor, Writers’ League, Benue State University, Makurdi, Terfa has won many Awards of literary Excellence as The Best Graduating Novelist 2010 and Best critic 2010 respectively. He is a quintessential erudite Award-winning poet whose Essays, Poems, articles are widely anthologized in world’s master pieces, journals, magazines, and newspapers. He has contributed generously to the world of literary readership and criticism through commentary, Zayol Terfa is the author of Teaching and understanding made Easy, The super Hero, The Local Champion and Other Short Stories, even as his play entitled Suspension of Disbelief” is currently undergoing publication. His unpublished works includes: “The Heart is A Lonely Hunter”, “Bagu Vaa imiura”, “The Grammatical concoction”, and “The intellectual Saviour”. As a song-writer and Lyricist, Terfa has been videoed in many Oratory and poetry readings, debates and Quiz competitions as moderator and Judge. He combines comedy and rap music and excels as a master of ceremony. He has a Masters Degree in English (M.A English) at Nasarawa State University, Keffi, with a stupendous bias morpho-syntax. His collection of short stories entitled The Local Champion and Other Shorts Stories (2012) is, in addition to Achebe’s Girls At War and Other Stories (1972), the primary sources of this study or research.

 

 

Content Analysis

“The Local Champion”

As a realist who always identifies with the down-trodden, “The Local Champion” deals with village life. The issues discussed in this piece of work are the issues of day-to-day life.

The Tiv life of drinking alcohol is portrayed in this short story. Like the Igbo, whose pride is given to palm wine, some Tiv people especially in the villages give so much of their time in beer parlours. When they get drunk and come back to their homes most of them engage in fight which put their homes in disorder. Akaakaa in this story is portrayed as such, as this is seen when Ngusuun, his daughter confirms; “... that’s how you always come home drunk and start saying things that don’t exist” (3).

Many problems are facing the  Nigerian society today, a situation which has given rise to the various ills such as bribery, corruption, fraud, exploitation, thuggery and armed robbery to mention but a few. This has exposed humanity to a lot of difficulties ranging from brutality, hard-heartedness, distrust of one another and violence. Yet other writers of literary works instead of reflecting on the true nature of these issues and proffering some possible solutions to them engage themselves in the practice of writing about pleasurable and fantastic things. Thus, it is his ability to capture these societal ills that we see Terfa as a realist.

The issue of distrust is being portrayed in the story. In old days, a girl child who is not married is not given a free chance to move out freely in Tiv land. But in recent times, the society has changed as they are being given such time but with a closer supervision as compared to that of a male child. When Selina is sent to buy some spices by her mother and delays, her mother complains;

Selina has been away for hours and it is almost getting too late for her to bring back the spices that are needed to garnish the paper-soup for the concert tonight, imagine this silly girl! Well, the dog that must get lost will no longer hear its master’s whistle, isn’t it so?... I don’t know what is wrong with young girls these days eh! You send them on a small errand that isn’t supposed to take them long and they end up at some corner with a young man or some small boy, that’s if you are lucky that they don’t end up in a room or some secluded place, learning how to have sex. (7)

Like in the story, the rate at which our girls today engage in one bad thing or the other calls for a societal change. Girls of today always talk about going out for night parties which before now has not been the case and this has contributed to societal imbalance.

  “The Mysterious Cortina”

Terfa’s experiences of the society he belongs have successfully shaped the content of his creative act. This is obtainable in his short story, “The Mysterious Cortina”. As the story is set in the village which has children as its characters, the story looks like the actions are taking place at the present as the reader reads through.

Considering the structure of the story, Terfa employs a unique structure that is unlike the classical tradition that adheres to the conventional use of a few characters in the arrangement of short story. As a realist, the use of language in Terfa’s story is also appropriate. This is because his choice of words or diction is very simple. This simplicity is reflected in the sentence construction and diction employment and this is what every realist writer aim in his work. To him, a work of art should be simple and accessible to all kinds of readers. This is because the work of art is not an object for the elites only. It should be read and understood by all levels of society.

His appropriate use of language is reflected in his characters. Every character speaks a language that is identified with his or her personality. This fact can be seen in an interaction between Mne and Ma: “Eh heh! This Anayan’s daughter, when is your mother going to the benni-seed market again? One of the women in the rear paused briefly to ask. Mne answered “Me I don’t know O” (48).

 The way Terfa creates his characters also reflects his ideology, realism. This is because, it is clear that the story uses individual names of characters which forms the topic of each message, bringing out the very circumstance under which that particular character operates. The reality of this story is reinforced with the use of realistic names such as Mne, Ray, Shimashima, Elizabeth etc which are Nigerian names. These names completely eliminate the use of either first or third Person narrative, making each character to give account of himself or herself instead.

“Appeasement”

Like Terfa’s other stories, the point of view used for this story is a third person point of view. Point of view according to Gabriel Okoye; “Simply signifies the way a story gets told-the mode or perspective established by the author by means of which the reader is presented with the characters, actions, setting, and events which constitute the narrative in a work of fiction” (18).

In Terfa’s “Appeasement” the use of third person pronouns like he, she, they are used by the narrator to narrate the story hence he knows all about the story thereby telling on behalf of characters. Individual names are also used by the author in this story. The use of individual names for character such as Ruka, Akaghaa, Asahar, Asuma, etc. which are originated from the Tiv people of the North Central part of the country are employed just to reinforce  the writers quest for reality, hence any reader especially of Tiv origin will agree that “yes” this is a real story.

The recognition a Tiv man accorded to a priest or king as reflected in this story. A Tiv man especially before the contemporary times, a contemporary time when Chiefs (Kings) are involved in politics, had respect for his or her king. In the olden days, when a king arrives in a gathering, his arrival would be announced and all that gathered will stand to accord his respect as can be seen when the narrator announces the arrival of king Ukanaka in the story:

King Ukanaka! The fieriest; the swiftest; the conquering, the feared of the most vicious among pythons, the largest among the Elephants, the most ferocious among the lions and tigers… may the tear cause the earth on which you walk to continually tremble beneath your terrible fact… the largest of the king’s countries announced as the priest came, leading Ruka into the king’s presence. (117)

Further in the story, the strong belief by Africans in spirits is stressed. To an African man the spirit can do anything whether good or bad so they must be appeased. Thus, the narrating voice says while announcing the arrival of king Ukanaka;

And what is the meaning of this wretched-looking fellow? Tell me wise eyes and ears of the spirits.

This is the one to take the appeasement to the spirits, king of the fiercest warriors.

It is required that the desecration of the sacred river by blood, shed in retribution and not by effort of some lanky old fellow! What did the spirits say, O wise one? (117-118)

A realist work must reflect the ills in the society in which a writer writes because he/she is supposed to be a teacher in his society directing and redirect his/her society on how things could be done. Thus, Terfa is a realist, social realist since his works understudy reflect the real issues in the contemporary society as can be seen above in the analysis.

Form Analysis

Point of View

Terfa’s style of writing informs the nature of his ideology, stance and vision. This includes the different forms of techniques he employs. As a realist literary writer, Terfa’s style of writing is in line with his kind of literature which deviates from the conventional purpose of entertainment to more serious issues of contemporary realities. His vision and style of writing is in line with writers such as Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Simeon Chibiko, Adamu Usman Kyuka etc. Terfa’s style of writing is reflected in the setting, plot and general structure of his story which is different from other forms of short stories.

Cinematic Description of Events

This technique implies the use of words especially adjectives to qualify, modify, and describe events, places or situations in any work of art. In The Local Champion and Other short Stories, there is a use of this technique to make the work real. In this collection, Terfa mirror the society in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular to the extent that every reader reads and gets acquainted with the issues discussed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

Summary

This research work studied how Chinua Achebe and Zayol Meshach Terfa employed the concept of realism in their works Girl At War and Other Short Stories and, The Local Champion and Other Short Stories to effect a positive change in the society. It is no gain saying that both texts studied here attempt to expose the ills that are prevalent in the Nigerian society in particular and in Africa at large. Thus, those texts unravel ideas like corruption, oppression, exploitation, brutalities, bribery and the gullibility of the African society. These therefore, account for the reflection of realism in these works.

Over the years, human beings have been faced with the uncertainty of what goes on in the minds of other human beings. The fear and the idea that people are mysteriously impenetrable, cruel, insincere, and disguise their true feelings, forms the basis of writing in the most specialized genre of prose fiction-the short story, whose significance is to: educate, entertain, inform, enlighten, and create conscious effect to expose human ills which have for ages agitated the minds of men in the society. It is at this backdrop that this work adopted the theory of social realism.

 The short story is a short form of prose narrative.  According to Asoo; “the short story is a specialized form of prose that requires specialized skills. The greatest practitioners of the art include names such as Edgar Alan Poe, Fitz Gerald and Ernest Fisher. The most prominent feature of this genre includes fewness of characters, singleness of effect and theme and a general uniqueness of purpose and structure.

The first chapter of this project dealt with realism under theoretical framework, in trying to establish the relationship between short story and realism, we discussed the concept of short story under background of the study. In discussing the concept, we are able to point out the preponderance of the concept in literary field as well as those who adopt it in their writings.  The chapter also encompasses those things like statement of the problem, scope of the study, significance of the study, and limitation of the study as well as research methodology.

In chapter two of this study concentration was drawn on social realism. In a bid to know what this concept means, other types of realism such as critical, socialist, representational, and imaginational were also discussed. Furthermore, in chapter two, we have been able to look at other critics’ views on Chinua Achebe’s Girls At War and Other Stories, and Zayol Meshach Terfa’s The Local Champion and Other Short Stories situating them within the ambiance of realism and we were able to view critics’ like Maria Ajima, Bivan Amos, Queen Adagu, Fashamo Denis e.t.c. who actually attest that indeed Girls At War and Other Stories, and The Local Champion and Other Short Stories though fictitious works, they have in one way or the other portrayed some aspects of the society bearing in mind the notion that every literature is an argument for its own reality.

Chapter three covered a textual analysis of Achebe’s Girls At War and other Stories, and Terfa’s The Local Champion and Other Short Stories covering the various aspects that account for the record of everyday life. Through a textual analysis of Girls Ast War and Other Stories, we are able to see how Achebe uses his work through content and form to reflect life in everyday living.

 The textual analysis of The Local Champion and Other Short Stories explores the critical realities of life in the village, and also, by the vivid description given by each character, one can actually perceive the truth behind this fictitious work. Through the use of setting, character, subject matter, and language use, the writer has been able to represent the nature of the happenings in village where distrust, corruption, and victimization is the order of the day.

In both texts, though short stories, the writers have been able to utilize their characters and each character has a special role to play as the stories unfold presenting us with incidents that affected our society and still are affecting presently which call for a change.

Conclusion

The short story has been one of the major elements with which many Nigerian writers have chosen to pass their message to the large masses, for a possible revolution either in Nigeria in Africa as a whole. They weave their ideas around their life experience and these include the writers whose works have been studied in this research. In terms of themes, the writers have shown the readiness to cause revolution in society as their stories have fully demonstrated. These writers recreate their society by portraying the attitudinal factors of everyday life like wickedness, exploitation of the people, corruption e.t.c. thus, to uphold the dignity of the common man in the society, these writers have decided to fight against the ills confronting the attainment of national unity and equality: qualities that cannot be undermined in the society.

 Girls At War and Other Stories and The Local Champion and Other Short Stories have therefore brought out social contemporary ills which exist in day-to-day life, and in essence both authors are trying to create change using their literature as a tool to create their way of life which can enhance positive change in the society.

Works Cited

Primary Sources

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Benjamin Walter. Illuminations. New York: Schocken press, 1973.print.

 

Eagleton Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1983. Print.

 

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Williams Raymond. Writing in Society. London: Verso press, 1984. Print.

 

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Okoye, C. Okoye. Total Study Edition Series for WAEC, GCE, and Related Examinations (covering 2006-2010). Onitsa: Gabson Educational Pubs, 2005. Print.

Terfa, Meshach Zayol. The Local Champion and Other Short Stories. Kaduna: Raph Printing Productions, 2012. Print.

Balogun, P.O. “Sociological Imperative and Aesthetic Vision in Sembene Ousmane’s Gods Bits of Wood and Xala”. Niger English Students Association,2010. Print.

Adeyemi, Sikiru. “Two Interlocking Entities: Literature and Society in the Creative Writing of Motunrayo Adegbilero”. Peak Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities. Osun: Department of Languages and linguistics,2013. Print.

Becker, George. Documents of Modern Literary Realism. New Jersey: Princeton Up, 1963. Print.

Nwagbara, Uzeoechi. “Intertextuality and the “Truth” of Achebe’s Fiction: Militarised Nigerian Postcolony in Anthills of the Savannah” The African Symposium .United Kingdom: University of Wales,2011. Print.

Asoo, Iorbee. Ferdinand. The African Novel and the Realist Tradition. Makurdi: Aboki Pubs, 2006. Print.

Lukacs, George. Realism in Our Time. New York: Harper, 1991. Print.

Maxwell, Adereth. Commitment in Modern French Literature. New York: Victor Gollancz, 1967. Print.

Archer, Margaret. Realist Social Theory: The Morphogenic Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Print.

Schostak, J.E. Explorations in Methodology, Studies in Educational Ethnography. Stanford: Jai Press, 1999. Print.

Apronti, E.O. “The Writer in our society”. Literature and West African Culture. Ed N Woga, D.I. Benin: Ethiope, 1978. Print.

 


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