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In A Long Way Gone, Ishmael referenced many stories from his
Transcript of In A Long Way Gone, Ishmael referenced many stories from his
The use of animals in African Folklore is a profoundly commonly used variable. These tales use animals as symbols for several different purposes, generally aimed to teach people mainly about forces they will have to face outside the story.
By: Amanda Prose
"African Folk Tales: Background Information".
Teachervision. 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 3 June 2014.
Anansi the Spider. “Anansi, the Spider, is one of the major trickster figures in African folktales. This spider can be wise, foolish, amusing, or even lazy- but always there is a lesson to be learned from Anansi”(African Folk Tales).
People can learn important life lessons vicariously through the animals, carrying the theme with them into reality.
In chapter 8 of
A Long Way Gone
, after Ishmael is attacked by a stampede of wild pigs, he recalls the tale is grandmother told him when he was younger about why pigs hate humans so much. This tale provides Ishmael with some insight about his situation. The pigs represent the fellow citizens of Sierra Leone- how everybody is turning on each other, and as long as you risk to fully conform to one "form", then you can avoid being killed.
The use of animals in African folklore can symbolize the type of characters that people should be, hoping to teach people to act the right way in real life.
"The Kind Lion"- "It is the idea that the Lion, King of the Beasts, lets his victims go for one reason or another, and then this good deed is rewarded in the end by the victim saving the life of the lion. It is the 'one good turn deserves another' motif" (African Folk Tales)
A Long Way Gone
, it is very clear that Ishmael was impacted greatly by stories. They were something that he not only cherished as a child, but adopted as a pastime into adulthood, eventually making into his career. In the memoir, Ishmael was familiar with African folklore. These tales stood out to him because fables in African folklore consist of key variables that enable them to be so incredulously influential, connecting their fictional worlds with reality. They are:
the use of animals
Animals can symbolize certain types of people and situations that people can find themselves facing in the future.
Caricature stories: Stories when certain types of groups of people included/represented in the tale are exaggerated by means of often ludicrous distortion for comedic or dramatic effect.
Caricature stories were designed to entertain and discuss society, allowing people to further understand their own society through fictional ones.
They taught people about the roles of classes in African society.
"Caricature stories stereotyped a class of people, often plebeians or lower classes, for entertainment value"(Whittaker).
They also focused on the gender expectations in African society.
"a series of (caricature) folktales from ancient Africa focuses on the social interactions of people. These stories were intended to teach listeners about the roles of the sexes, specifically addressing appropriate behavior" (Whittaker).
This shows how the lower classes of African society, much like many other societies, were the classes most open to ridicule. People who listened to these tales would see how they/others are viewed by their own society.
(ex.-tales with curses)
Aphoristic statements: statements of truth or opinion expressed in a concise and witty manner
Cliches enable people to understand both very common, almost stereotypical, situations and archetypes that they are most likely to stumble upon in their future.
"Aphorisms are other examples of folk literature that have been in use for thousands of years. But, unlike the other types, they do not tell stories. Their purpose is to teach, to instill a moral lesson" (Folklore).
"Do not set the roof on fire and then go to bed"
(African Folk Tales).
Aphorisms in African folklore, such as proverbs and cliches, can directly reflect and provide answers for problems that people face in day-to-day life.
This proverb is meant to be a piece of advice, reminding people to not just cause trouble and then act like it didn't happen. That they need to face what they have done. It is through proverbs that people find a sense of truth in African folklore, allowing them to find a direct reflection between these fictional worlds and their own.
Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy
Soldier. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. Print.
"folklore." Kids Encyclopedia, Britannica, n.d. Web.
6 June 2014.
Whittaker, Anne. "Overview of Ancient African
Folklore." Ancient Africa: Overview of Ancient African Folklore. 2011. Print.
Through the use of animals, people can learn about forces of life that they may soon encounter.
Through stories that contain caracaturization, people can be entertained and learn about several aspects of their own society.
Aphoristic statements such as proverbs and cliches enable people to notice and maybe even find solutions to problems that they face/will face in the future.
These are the variables that are used to make the stories in African folklore so influential, showing that fiction and reality aren't separate, but can coexist within these tales.