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Tone and Theme in "Cell One" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Transcript of Tone and Theme in "Cell One" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
There are several shifts in tone throughout the story. The tone at the beginning of the story can be described as sardonic and bitter. The tone reflects the narrator's feelings. For example:
*When her brother leaves during Mass, she feels "a little piqued" (Adichie).
*After her parents find out her brother stole her mother's jewelry, her mother is hysterical, causing the narrator to "want to slap her" (Adichie).
*When describing the recent surge in crime, the narrator describes the thieves as "other sons of professors" who "grew up watching Sesame Street and had "polished brown sandals" (Adichie). *Occurs when narrator is describing the "cults" and their criminal activities around campus.
*Shifts to a candid tone (with a sense of normalcy)
*"It became so abnormal that it was normal" (Adichie). *Tone shifts again after Nnamabia goes to jail to
a grave and melancholy tone.
*"Every day two policemen carried a dead man out of Cell One, stopping by Nnamabia’s cell to make sure that the corpse was seen by all" (Adichie).
*Tone does shift back to bitter briefly, when the narrator describes her brother as "enjoying his new role as the sufferer of indignities" (Adichie).
*Also bitter when describing changes in parents: "It was as if by refusing to criticize the police they would somehow make Nnamabia’s freedom more likely" (Adichie). Fourth Shift Tone and Theme *After old man is arrested, the tone shifts back to morose and melancholy.
*Nnamabia describing old man's suffering: "How he could not afford bathing water, how the others made fun of him or accused him of hiding his son, how the chief ignored him, how he looked frightened and so terribly small." (Adichie). Ending *Story ends with a melancholy tone.
*"Nnamabia did not say what had happened to him in Cell One, or what happened at the new site. It would have been so easy for him, my charming brother, to make a sleek drama of his story, but he did not." (Adichie) Most Important Elements *POV
*Setting Theme Political Corruptness *The Nigerian police brutality and the harsh conditions of the jails and holding places as experienced by Nnamabia
*Cell one and all the deaths that occur there, as wells as other prisoners being forced to see the dead, mutilated bodies.
Continued *Police making fun of and torturing the ill old man*Locking up family members of criminals because they can’t locate the criminal Coming of Age *Nnamabia is defiant, wild, and oblivious of the consequences of his actions as well as the effect it his family
*When taken to jail he becomes aware of the brutality, cruelty, and hatred toward an elderly man who is ill
*He grows up some while locked up and his eyes are opened to the repercussions of his actions as well as the corruptness of the Nigerian officials.
Continued *His kindness and sympathy toward the old man and his willingness to be punished and maybe even killed in order to stand up for the man reflects his emotional and intellectual growth
*Nnamabia goes from acing like an adolescent full of angst and not caring about others or punishment, to being knowledgeable about the trouble he can get into especially with the cruelty of the police and Nigeria. He also becomes more aware of the impact his actions and those of his peers have on other people such as the old man and he sympathizes with him.