THE REPRESENTATION OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES IN SELECTED AFRICAN FICTION

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ABSTRACT

The concept of disability as an entity worthy of study in African literature is hardly ever considered, yet it an engaging issue. Disability means different things to different people at different times and that is what the research work sought.
The four works under study: Aminata Sow Fall’s The Beggars’ Strike, Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine, Cyprian Ekwensi’s The Drummerboy, and Gabriel Okara's The Voice looked at the subject of disability and depicted persons with disabilities in these three dimensions. They achieved this through the use of some key literary devices that served as a medium to efficiently carry out the assignment of depicting persons with disabilities and their experiences.

The research work looked at the following as it discussed the subject of disability in these four texts: how disability is viewed in the selected works; the imagery that is recurrent in these works; how disability is connected to traditional, moral and ethical norms and what disability means for the subject.

This was achieved by doing a Marxist analytical study of some characters with disabilities in the texts in order to show the relationship between the disabled characters and society. This work discovered three ways disability has been portrayed in literature – positive portrayal, negative portrayal and ambivalent portrayal.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page
Abstract
Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of the study
1.2 Definition of Disability
1.3 The History of Disabilities
1.4 Statement of the Problem
1.5 Scope and Limitation of the Study
1.6 Purpose of the Study
1.7 Significance of the Study

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 The Representation of Disability in Literature
2.2 Disability in the Ancient World
2.3 Representation of Disability in African Literature

CHAPTER THREE: THEORITICAL FRAMEWORK AND METHODOLOGY
3.1 Theoretical Framework
3.2 Marxist Literary Criticism
3.3 Research Methodology

CHAPTER FOUR: REPRESENTATION OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITY AND THE MARXIST READING OF THE SELECTED TEXTS
4.1       Positive Image of Persons with Disability in the Texts
4.2       Negative image of disability in the Selected Works
4.3       The Ambivalent Representation of persons with disability in the Novels
4.4       A Marxist Literary Reading of the Selected Texts

CHAPTER FIVE: LITERARY DEVICES IN THE SELECTED WORKS AND CONCLUSION
5.1 Literary Devices in the Four Texts
5.1.2 Imagery in Disability Representation
5.1.3 The Use of Metaphors and Simile in Representing Disability
5.1.4: Disability and Symbols
5.1.5: Narrative Voice/Point of View
5.1.6: Characterisation
5.1.7: Language
5.2: Conclusion
Works Cited


CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study


“Mmebi aha ogaranya ka ogbugbu ya” – An adage

“The ruining of a wealthy man’s name is worse than murdering him” – My translation.

This is a popular saying among the Igbo that expresses the great importance attached to labelling, whether positive or negative. This value however is not confined to the Igbos and by extension Africa but it is a universal principle. In proper translation, it simply denotes that life is not worth living without a good name i.e. reputation.

I would like at this point to explain the expression “wealthy man” as mentioned above. It does not necessarily refer to one who has excess money and other material things of life but rather human dignity. This is evident in this anecdote, “Nwanza bu eze n’akwu ya”, meaning, a sunbird is king in his own nest. This of course, stresses the fact that everyone is deserving of honour and fairness regardless of physical, mental or financial status.


It is not surprising therefore, that the concept of disability is not new in African literature, both the written and the oral contain lots of characters with varying degrees of disabilities. But surprisingly, these characters most of the time are not the actual focal point rather they are minor characters even when seemingly the protagonists. Consequently, not much has critically been done in this regard. So this research will be focusing on this area with particular interest on the representation of persons with disability in African fiction using selected texts. In this research, there is a critical look at the different representations of people with disabilities and analyses of how the different attitudes of the society are created in the selected novels. The work will give attention to issues like:

·       What is regarded as disability in the selected works.

·       The imagery that is recurrent in these works.

·       How these attitudes have been enshrined in the traditional, moral and ethical norms.

·       What disability means for the subject.

The work would also consider the discourses, images, proverbs, metaphors and fantasies through which the selected texts ascribe meanings to experiences of characters with disability. These would be achieved by following a distinctive theoretical perspective on literary disability studies, which is Marxist literary criticism.

It is to be noted that disability is a social phenomenon; that is why words like handicap, deformity, invalidity, etc are interchangeably used in many contexts. This is the reason for the use of the Marxist literary analytical method for the analysis of the texts. The research examines the representation of persons with disabilities in four selected African fiction: namely, Aminata Sow Fall’s The Beggars’ Strike, Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine, Cyprian Ekwensi’s The Drummer Boy, and Gabriel Okara's The Voice.


1.2 Definition of Disability

Disability over the years has been viewed and defined by different peoples and cultures in various ways and this is strictly tied to value system. Generally speaking, it can be defined as a condition whether social, religious, material/financial, physical, mental or sensory that limits one’s expected performance......

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