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Human Universalities

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Transcript of Human Universalities

Human Universalities
By Parker Hansen
Examining human emotion represents a defining feature of literature. Clearly, the expansiveness and worldliness of literature demonstrates its arousing capability. Translated texts evidently hold universal appeal because they typify human emotion, tension, and juxtaposition. The common struggle-of-life constitutes accessible and relatable subject material; humans respect and appreciate values that hold influence among all societies and cultures.

Catharsis, emotional release, is obtained by analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating artistic works. Great literature, among other art, represents an imprint of humanity and its progress. Literature facilitates social comprehension, knowledge, for the betterment of mankind. This multi-media analysis of World Literature interprets literary knowledge as proof of human universalities; transcendent truths manifest within universally empowering literature.
Introduction: Literature and the World
The short stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, James Joyce, and Guy de Maupassant develop the irony of upward mobility: appreciating the here and now, that is, within the context of this literature unit. These authors reveal transcendent truth by emphasizing an appreciation of human life and circumstance. The desire for social progression, fulfillment, constitutes an accepted and appreciated universal truth.
Unit One: The Irony of Upward Mobility
James Joyce's short story “Eveline” conveys the irony of upward mobility by highlighting the internal conflict of the female protagonist. Eveline struggles with her personal notion of upward mobility; therefore, motivating the ironic conclusion. Eveline desires love and a life away from her conventional family. Joyce writes: “[Eveline] was about to explore another life with Frank… [s]he was to go away with him by the night-boat to be his wife and to live with him in Buenos Aires where he had a home waiting for her” (14). The situation concludes differently than expected, i.e., she remains paralyzed and unable to join her lover.

“Eveline” demonstrates Joyce’s sympathetic understanding of humanity—significant life choices are cosmically permanent. Eveline, and her self-identity crisis, relates to a post-modern audience. She struggles with giving up her comfortable and familiar lifestyle, that is, to hopefully live happily-ever-after. Her inability to relinquish her manner-of-living is because her repetitive lifestyle is overwhelmingly comfortable. Eveline attempts to avoid her mother’s life: “that life of commonplace sacrifices closing in final craziness” (14). However, she remains incapable of relinquishing her profitable position. Eveline remains prisoner to her seemingly gainful situation. In the end, “Eveline” represents human appreciation. Ironically, her comfortable life-position hampers her social progression, thusly, she accepts her mundane and repetitive existence. People must create a self-identity that facilities upward social progression; avoid the paralysis of the unknown.

"The Necklace"
The short story “Balthazar’s Marvelous Afternoon” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez epitomizes the notion that upward mobility is seemingly ironic. Balthazar, a simple carpenter, possesses genius for crafting birdcages. Marquez writes: “[h]e did not even know that for some people the cage he had just made was the most beautiful one in the world” (7). Balthazar’s focus on crafting transcends monetary value; Dr. Octavio Giraldo attempts to persuade Balthazar to sell his cage, but the protagonist refuses. His birdcage is made especially for the son of Mr. Chepe Montiel. Balthazar demonstrates virtue by declining the sale of his committed cage.

When arriving at the Montiel residence, situational irony imminently becomes apparent. Mrs. Montiel, when looking at the birdcage, exclaims: “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life” (8). This cage symbolizes the virtue absent from upward-mobile people. Mr. Montiel never ordered the birdcage, and his son lacks the means to purchase it. Jose Montiel, a hairy and obese social-elite, venomously denies payment for Balthazar’s services. The child, Pepe, violently contorts and spasms because he is not allowed the birdcage. Balthazar forsakes financial gain, and gives Pepe the birdcage—representing virtue and human appreciation. Jose Montiel and Balthazar juxtapose one another as foils. Ironically, Balthazar possesses greater upward mobility because he possesses social virtue. Jose Montiel typifies human rudeness, and lacks upward mobility despite his higher economic position. Virtue is valued by all cultures; Balthazar’s marvelous afternoon constitutes the fostering of his own transcendent truth—upward social mobility proves possible.

"Balthazar's Marvelous Afternoon"

b. 1928- d. 2014 (Jonathan Kendall).

According to
World Literature II
, perhaps, Columbia’s most respected and acclaimed writer (7).

Marquez’s masterpiece constitutes the novel
One Hundred Years of Solitud
e; he utilizes magic realism exemplifying the pinnacle of Latin American “‘boom’ [period]” literature (7).

Worldly significance and recognition: awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982 (7).

Marquez supports the ideal “‘[p]ower to the imagination’” (7).

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Note of Finality
Works Cited
Achebe, Chinua. "Girls at War." World Literature II. Edmond: University of Central Oklahoma, 2014. 24-28. Print.

Atwood, Margaret. "Dancing Girls." World Literature II. Edmond: U of Central Oklahoma, 2014. 49-54. Print.

Camus, Albert. "The Guest." World Literature II. Edmond: U of Central Oklahoma, 2014. 29-34. Print.

Hevesi, Dennis. "Arnost Lustig, Who Wrote Tales of Holocaust, Dies at 84." The New York Times 5th Mar. 2011: n. pag. Print.

Joyce, James. "Eveline." World Literature II. Edmond: U of Central Oklahoma, 2014. 13-15. Print.

Kandell, Jonathan. "Chinua Achebe, African Literary Titan, Dies at 82." The New York Times 22 Mar. 2013: n. pag. Print.

Kandell, Jonathan. "Gabriel García Márquez, Conjurer of Literary Magic, Dies at 87." The New York Times 18 Apr. 2014: n. pag. Print.

Lustig, Arnost. "The Lemon." World Literature II. Edmond: U of Central Oklahoma, 2014. 38-44. Print.

Marquez, Gabriel G. "Balthazar's Marvelous Afternoon." World Literature II. Edmond: U of Central Oklahoma, 2014. 7-9. Print.

Maupassant, Guy De. "The Necklace." World Literature II. Edmond: U of Central Oklahoma, 2014. 16-19. Print.

Narayn, R.K. "A Horse and Two Goats." World Literature II. Edmond: U of Central Oklahoma, 2014. 63-68. Print.

Thiong'o, Ngugi Wa. "A Meeting in the Dark." World Literature II. Edmond: U of Central Oklahoma, 2014. 69-73. Print.

Thiong'o, Ngugi Wa. "Biography." Ngugi Wa Thiong'o. Ed. Julia R. Lupton. Barbara Caldwell, n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2014.

b. 1882- d. 1941

According to
World Literature II
, a greatly influential twentieth-century writer, Joyce typifies modernism in his narrative and form (13).

He grew up in a suburb of Dublin, Ireland—central to his literature.

Joyce sates: “‘I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal’” (13).

His masterpiece is the stream-of-consciousness novel

James Joyce
Guy de Maupassant’s short story “The Necklace” validates the irony associated with upward mobility. This story utilizes “…one of those pretty and charming girls who are sometimes, as if by a mistake of destiny, born in a family of clerks… [the protagonist] suffered ceaselessly, feeling herself born for all the delicacies and all the luxuries” (16). “The Necklace” highlights disenfranchisement with conventional existence. The central, female, character holds illusions of grandeur as a means of accepting her common lifestyle. Her husband surprises her with an auspicious invitation to a dinner-ball; after procuring appropriate dress and jewels, she is ready to attend the formal party. Borrowing the seemingly affluent jewelry of her friend, gives the protagonist the courage to attempt upward mobility. However, she loses the dazzling diamond necklace. To rectify her wrongdoing, she and her husband purchase a replacement diamond necklace with burrowed funds. Therefore, the protagonist and her husband diligently work for ten years to repay their debts. Maupassant writes: “Mme. Loisel looked old now. She had become the woman of impoverished households—strong and hard and rough” (18). The once precious creature, as a result of her upward mobile illusions, becomes mundane and ordinary. She works away her beauty because she must fulfill her debt.

Situational irony manifests within the conclusion. After ten years of hard labor, the protagonist runs into her former friend. The prosperous friend fails to even recognize the protagonist—she is altered by her hard lifestyle. The protagonist confesses that she is changed because of the consequences of her misplacement. Mme Forester replies: “‘[o]h, my poor Mathilde! Why, my necklace was paste. It was worth at most five hundred francs!’” (19). Ironically, attempting to exemplify upward mobility caused her social digression; moreover, sometimes aristocracy constitutes a façade. To foster a beneficial life one must accept limitations and appreciate humanity; thankfulness is paramount.
Guy de Maupassant
b.1850- d. 1893

According to
World Literature II
, Maupassant’s literature typifies an acute sense of social observation, sympathetic detachment, and a “controlled use of irony” (16).

An acclaimed French writer from a middle-class family, i.e., Rouen, Normandy; he received mentorship and assistance by established French writers Flaubert and Emile Zola.

Regarded as a notable contributor to the modern short story form; meaning, “he pared the form to its essential elements, a technical strategy that significantly influenced most of its successors” (16).

Unit Two: Perseverance Despite Hardship

The short stories by Chinua Achebe, Albert Camus, and Arnost Lustig exemplify: destruction—the face-of-adversity—and accepting life, regardless of misfortune. Human trials and tribulations cultivate emotional and social intelligence. The writers above ardently demonstrate the human-spirit by highlighting a dangerous, as well as unforgiving setting. The presence of peril accentuates the emotive appeal of these particular stories—transcendent truth is revealed through the human struggle. Grappling with an unknown and relentless force proves possible, i.e., by dogged determination. Prevailing notwithstanding calamity is achievable; therefore, human universality manifests.

b.1930- d. 2013 (Jonathan Kandell)

A modern Nigerian writer showcasing an African perspective.

His masterpiece is the novel
Things Fall Apart
, an acclaimed and widely read African-literary-work.

Western Literature II
states: “[Chinua Achebe] became Africa’s most deservedly beloved writer” (24). He emphasizes adherence to heritage and Nigerian culture within his works.

A literary and political beacon who presented an authentic representation of African tradition by emphasizing its richness, value, and social scope.

Chinua Achebe
"Girls At War"

Chinua Achebe’s short story “Girls at War” underscores the misfortunes of war, destruction, as something to be overcome. The protagonist, Reginald Nwanko, Ministry of Justice, demonstrates that the process of living requires determination to succeed—highlighting the will to survive.

Willpower surmounts social injustice as a means of survival. Achebe writes: “[b]y nature such singular good fortune in the midst of a general desolation was certain to embarrass [Reginald Nwanko]. But what could a man do? He had a wife and four children living in the remote village of Ogbu and completely dependent on what relief he could find and send them” (25). To survive and thrive within a war-torn country, the high-ranking public official uses his clout and influence to procure rations for his family. The willpower to survive voids all social injustice; Reginald Nwanko feels little remorse for his impoverished subjects. Nwanko’s survival accepts the death of others as inevitable. To provide for his family, Nwanko procures rations that others very well need. One must accept life, regardless of misfortune, to survive.

Survival sex as a means of procuring sanctuary manifests within “Girls at War.” Achebe writes: “‘[y]ou want to shell?’ she [Gladys] asked. And without waiting for an answer said, ‘[g]o ahead but don’t pour in troops!” (27) The central female character Gladys willingly offers sex for shelter. This harsh situation highlights the bleak reality of femininity within a hostile environment; war breeds destruction and resilience. To survive in a masculine-tumultuous society, Gladys offers her womanliness as a means of empowerment. This adaptation and will-to-survive demonstrates accepting life despite its bleakness. People continue to exist despite adversity; human tenacity reveals transcendent truth. In the face-of-destruction resilience manifests as vital for survival.

b. 1913- d. 1960

According to
World Literature II
, “[Albert Camus is] one of the most famous French existentialists” (29).

Albert Camus identified himself as “as an ‘Algerian Frenchman’” (29).

His liminal perspective recognizes both an Algerian and French tradition within his literature. Example given, “[t]he ‘wartime’ referred to early in ‘The Guest’ is the French/Algerian war, which lasted from 1954 to 1962” (29).

Recognition: awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957 (29).

Albert Camus
“The Guest”

Albert Camus’ short story “The Guest” utilizes internal conflict to underscore meaning. The protagonist, Daru, is a schoolmaster and an Algerian-born Frenchman. Camus writes: “[b]ut Daru had been born here [Algeria]. Everywhere else, he felt exiled” (30). Daru, a dynamic character, is charged with the safekeeping of a criminal, i.e., an ambiguous Arab character. Daru during wartime is given orders to deliver a prisoner by a military official. Despite not being a qualified solider, Daru is expected to deliver his prisoner. In the face-of-adversity, Daru accepts his responsibility, a human universality. He signs the papers that provide him with liability of the prisoner.

The climax is reached when Daru, internally and externally, allows the Arab prisoner his choice of freedom. Daru states: "[take it.] '[t]here are dates, bread, and sugar. You can hold out for two days. Here are a thousand francs too'" (33). Daru highlights the universality of human sentimentality; he gives the prisoner two choices, and then leaves him to his own decision-making. In the face-of-destruction, Daru decides to permit autonomy. Camus writes: "[a]nd in that slight haze, Daru, with a heavy heart, made out the Arab walking slowly on the road to prison" (33). Given the choice of freedom, the prisoner chooses judgment. Seemingly, this accentuates the notion that life and all its misfortunes are to be accepted and internalized. The Arab prisoner accepts his outcome, regardless of personal misfortune. Accepting and appreciating life clearly constitutes a transcendent truth.

b. 1926- d. 2011 (Dennis Hevesi).

Lustig grew up in Prague, Czechoslovakia—he lived through World War II (37).

Lustig attended three concentration camps Theresienstadt, Buchenwald, and Auschwitz; he is a Holocaust writer (37).

Recognition: his novel
A Prayer for Katerina Horovitzova
won the Gottwald State Prize in 1967, and the English version was nominated for a National Book Award.

Arnost Lustig
“The Lemon”

Arnost Lustig’s short story “The Lemon” highlights the plight of one Jewish family to expound transcendent truth. The protagonist, Ervin, must deal with travesty and hardship in order to survive. His horrific experiences typify accepting life—regardless of adversity and destruction.

Ervin sells his dead father’s pants, and gold tooth, to provide nourishment for his family. Lustig writes: “[Ervin] picked up a sharp stone. He had a sticky feeling as though he were robbing somebody. He tried to decide which was the best way to knock it out… [h]e was glad nobody had seen him. Into the palm of his hand he scooped what he’d been seeking” (43). To adapt and thrive, Ervin must accept his life and unfortunate circumstance.

Ervin pilfers his father’s corpse because it is necessary for survival; he looks at the face-of-adversity, and adapts. Ervin states: “I ought to be like a rock… [e]ven harder than a rock. And he wept, quietly and without tears, in some little crevice which was inside” (44). Persisting, regardless of depravity and destruction, demonstrates progress. In the direst of situations, humans survive by dogged-determination; Ervin represents human steadfastness by enduring despite overwhelming turmoil.

Unit Three: The Callowness of the Unfamiliar, Naiveté
Comprehending the scope of human ignorance facilitates the betterment of mankind. The short stories of Margaret Atwood, R.K. Narayan, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o heighten the identification and development of human universalities, transcendent truths. People often lack knowledge, sensitivity, and sentimentality in accordance with differing perspectives and worldviews.

The half-knowledge associated with ignorance impedes social progression and feasibility; heed juxtaposition as essential for appreciating human existence. The authors above keenly express their social and emotional intelligence by utilizing conflict to stress human universality; meaning, a collective human-core is established. To remain significant and evolved—humans must accept divergence, dissimilarity, and distinction. The admittance of socially diverse traditions allows transcendent knowledge of the global world: the callowness of the unfamiliar—naiveté—proliferates within humanity. It must be appreciated for ignorance breeds disharmony. The globalization of the post-modern world illuminates ignorance to be exhausted within the minds-of-man.

Humanity is intrinsically coupled with conflicting and contradicting perspectives and ideologies. This combination of generally-applicable literature enables social and emotional comprehension, in turn, validating human universalitites. Transcendent truth is revealed within the human-spirit by means of interrelated and quintessential world literature.

Experiencing English, and its studies, constitutes an ardent and enduring journey; thusly, perennial literature underscores the struggles of the human-spirit by means of universal application. Transcendent truth manifests to illuminate the worldliness of humanity. These kernels of unanimous knowledge provide catharsis and resolution, that is, through accessible and relatable subject material. The globally-humanistic tenets of appreciative-thankfulness (unit one), diligent-perseverance (unit two), and the bewilderment of half-knowledge (unit three) showcase mankind as interconnected and unified by common universalities. World literature fosters common meaning to expound life as a product of humanity; therefore, transcendent truth accentuates the globalization of the post-modern world.

b. 1939—raised in a rural area within northern Canada, i.e., the provinces of Ontario and Quebec (49).

An acclaimed, artistic, witty, and contemporary Canadian fiction and poetry writer; she is a prolific working in several different genres. (49).

Western Literature II
states: “[within Atwood’s literature] [s]everal ideas and themes do recur, however, including explorations of the meaning of ‘survival’” (49).

Described as a wry and sardonic author she identifies as a “‘pessimistic pantheist,’ meaning that ‘God is everywhere, but losing’” (49).

Recognition: several of her works “have been honored with Canada’s prestigious Governor-General Award” (49).

Margaret Atwood
“Dancing Girls”

Margaret Atwood’s short story utilizes a female protagonist to explicate and convey meaning. Ann, the central character, scrutinizes prejudice within a Caucasian worldview, i.e., despite not being American. She witnesses the banishment of a similar foreign and financially unstable Arab student. The ambiguous Arab lodger is seemingly reserved and quiet, Ann never sees him. One night, he has a party—this jubilation juxtaposes the festivity’s insensitive conclusion. Mrs. Nolan exiles her Arab tenet because she is ignorant of his customs and traditions. One act of merriment can be interpreted vastly differently. “Dancing Girls” accentuates cultural perception as a vital component for social realities.

Ann, a finically insecure architect student, beholds ignorance and its tumultuous outcome. Atwood writes: “‘I’m glad it was you took the room,’ she’d [Mrs. Nolan] said to Ann. ‘I can talk to you. You’re not, like, foreign. Not like most of them. It was his idea, getting this big house to rent out. Not that he has to do the work or put up with them. You never know what they’ll do’” (50). Ironically, Ann’s Canadian ancestry and identity validates her foreign status, therefore, this contradicts her landlord’s insensitivity. The thoughtlessness of people is a universal hurdle—cultivating and maintaining respect remains significant among all cultures.

Prejudice enables cultural intolerance. Mrs. Nolan states: “[e]xcept I don’t like the way he [ambiguous Arab tenet] comes down, so quiet like, right into my house. With Fred away so much” (51). This passage highlights the presence of narrow-mindedness and bigotry that conventional humans possess. Ironically, the ambiguous Arab character, a tenet, is not allowed in Mrs. Nolan’s house despite renting a room. Seemingly, she is threatened by his differing culture, scars, and customs. Her social realities differ from an Arabian perspective yielding insightful juxtaposition and enlightenment. People fear the unknown and have trouble incorporating differing traditions.

b. 1907- d. 2001 (63).

Born into the Brahmin social caste; his father served as headmaster for a secondary school in Madras, India (63).

According to
World Literature II
, “he is one of the most widely read and loved writers of the Indian sub-continent, Narayan… traces the struggles of his sensitive and often doubting characters… to find moral equilibrium and spiritual peace within the framework of personal life” (63).

Narayan’s crafted fictional universe is called Malgudi; it is similar to William Faulkner’s fictional Yoknapatawpha County (63).

Narayan asserts: “[o]ur normal view [of human personality] is limited to a physical perception in a condition restricted in time, like the flashing of a torchlight on a spot, the rest of the area being in darkness” (63). Ostensibly, adherence regarding a cyclical worldview becomes apparent.

R.K. Narayan
“A Horse and Two Goats”

R.K. Narayan’s short story “A Horse and Two Goats” is a poignant and powerful reminder of how communication affects all facets of life. The ability to verbally exchange information proves vital for social success. The central character, an old man, constitutes a pariah; he reminisces about life and his once prosperous flock. Muni states: “I am the poorest fellow in our caste and no wonder that they spurn me, but I won’t look at them either” (65). Muni is unable to relate to his village-peers due to his impoverished state. On the outskirts of town, Muni is able to lift up his head. Narayan writes: “[h]e [Muni] sat on its pedestal [the horse statue on the village outskirts] for the rest of the day. The advantage of this was that he could watch the highway and see the lorries and buses pass through to the hills, and it gave him a sense of belonging to a larger world” (65). As a result of Muni’s ostracization, the protagonist finds solace in his natural surroundings.

While sitting on the pedestal of the horse statue, “a red-faced foreigner” appears as his car runs out of gasoline. The native New Yorker epitomizes human ignorance and insensitivity. Astonished by the artistic creativity of the horse statue; Narayan writes: “[t]he stranger almost pinioned Muni’ back to the statue and asked, ‘Isn’t this statue yours? Why don’t you sell it to me?’” (66). Despite not understanding Muni’s speech the man continuously attempts to procure the historic horse statue. The ambiguous foreigner states: “‘[y]our language sounds wonderful. I get a kick out of every word you utter, here’—he indicated his ears—‘but you don’t have to waste your breath in sales talk. I appreciate the article [horse statue]’” (66). The difference in culture, and worldly perception, between Muni and the American is insightfully educative.

Muni believes to have sold his stock to the native New Yorker. He states: “I have sold our goats to a red-faced man. He was absolutely crazy to have them, gave me all this money and carried them off in his motor car!” (68). In reality this is not the case, for the goats quickly return home. The ignorant foreigner desired the horse statue and did his best to obtain it. Never validly agreeing to the terms of sale, the New Yorker reveals his insensitivity. He takes the horse statue without comprehending its ownership or its significance to Muni and his village. People remain unaware and inconsiderate, selfish tendencies proliferate. The foreigner’s want for materialistic possession overrides Muni’s adherence to Indian culture, thusly, ignorance manifests.

b. 1938 in Kenya, Africa.

According to World Literature II, “[Thiong’o] is East Africa’s most accomplisher writer” (69).

He writes about the Kenyan struggle for independence, as well as neocolonialism (69).

He was imprisoned by the Kenyan government for a year, and then sent into exile.
Detained: A Writer’s Diary
published in 1981 highlights the experience of his incarceration (69).

Presently, Thiong’o presides as a professor of comparative literature for California University at Irvine (Ngugi Wa Thiong'o).

Ngugi wa Thiong’o
“A Meeting in the Dark”

Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s short story “A Meeting in the Dark” highlights ignorance as a causal of destruction. The central character John, a college-bound student, exemplifies his community as a religious and cultural beacon. Conflict arises by means of John’s Christian identity and dogma, i.e., his tumultuous relationship with his father. Thiong’o writes: “[f]ather will know. They will know. He [John] did not know what he feared most; the action his father would take when he knew, or the loss of the little faith the simple villagers had placed in him, when they knew” (70). John’s emotional, physical, and cognitive turmoil arises from his promiscuity. Ironically—the sins of the father are repeated through John, a child born out of wedlock.

Like his father, John blames his fall on his female partner. Wamhu, though circumcised, is pregnant with John’s son. Her father states: “‘[t]hose coated with the white clay of the white man’s ways are the worst. They have nothing inside’” (71). John’s internal conflict is in direct relation to his elevated social position. As a clergyman’s son, Jon is educated and college-bound. This identity is compromised by Wamhu, “[a]nd when it came to thinking of a way out, only fantastic and impossible ways of escape came into his [John’s] head” (73). To flee condemnation and his father’s wrath constitutes John’s driving, motivational, force.

John meets Wamhu to pay her off; he conveys that marriage is impossible. Having a child out of wedlock is a sin that John cannot accept. Wamhu attempts to deny John’s request, but she never finishes her sentence. Starting from two hundred shillings, John’s offer grows to twenty-thousand shillings. Thiong’o writes: “[John] runs after her and holds her, calling her by all sorts of endearing words. But he is shaking her, shake, shake, her, her—he tries to hug her by the neck, presses…She lets out one horrible scream and then falls to the ground” (73). Seemingly, John killing Wamhu highlights human ignorance. John appears to be wholesome and respectable, but this is dense. As a result of his Christian upbringing, John lacks social awareness. He is ignorant of social consequences and attempts to cover his mistakes. Wamhu, conversely, perishes as a result of her lack-of-knowledge concerning John; he manifests as a lion in sheep’s clothing. Comprehending varying worldviews and perceptions enables humanity to thrive and develop consciousness.
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