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Custom Arrow of God Folklore Analysis Essay

Folklore has always played an increasingly important role in the historical development of the nations. Having analyzed the pieces of both artifacts and oral expressions of the traditional folklore of different nations, it becomes visible that folklore should be regarded as an encapsulation of the most important historical events. For instance, military marches of the American Indians reflect their everlasting struggle against the white invaders, the hostile tribes and hunting scenes. Indisputably, folklore has a complex composite structure. In particular, it consists of legends, fairy tales, cultural beliefs, jokes, stories and narrations, fables and other pieces of the oral art.

Usually folklore is regarded as a separate section of literature, but very often the authors composing their works of the art consider them to belong to a literature section. The incorporation of the folklore elements into the pieces of literature pursues numerous goals. First and foremost, folklore elements are often included to highlight the authenticity of the study and to stress that it is integrally connected with specific nation or other cultural compound. Another goal which is sometimes pursued by the author includes the intent of the author to support his or her personal opinion or to justify specific actions committed by the main characters of the story.                                             

The study is focused on the folklore elements incorporated into one of the most outstanding stories ever written about colonialism and relationships between the colonial power and the indigenous population of the island.  The aim of folklore accentuation in the book is caused by the willingness of the author to highlight the ardor of the African national movement against the white British invaders and the way they exploit the black population of the island.

The Historical Background of the Story

First and foremost, it is necessary to highlight the fact that even the title of the story derives from the traditional African faiths and beliefs.  This phrase signifies the “godsend” or the “gift of the God”.  That is a traditional folklore element and has nothing to do with the contemporary English literature.                                                                                   

The main event of the story is developing around the Igbo people, which were part of the British Nigeria in 1920. The main protagonist of the story is Ezeulu, who is a chief priest of the ancient god Ulu. The skirmish with the adverse tribe is suddenly interrupted by the invasion of the Britain troops under the command of the Winterbottom. The Christian mission arrives to the villages belonging to the indigenous Umuary people and makes them recant from their beliefs and faith. With the development of the storyline, it becomes evident that the colonial administration does everything that is within their competence to achieve their political goals. In particular, the chief protagonist of the story is even invited to work with the local administration, and after his refusal he is declared a criminal and sent to prison. Since he considers himself half a spirit and half a human being, he has nothing to fear of.        

Ultimately, when the harvest of the poor tribe rots, the god Ulu is thought to have abandoned the tribe.  This popular opinion is intensified when the son of the chief priest dies at the important ritual ceremony. The culmination of the story is the total conversion of the Christianity by the population of the villages.                                                                       

The Associated Words and Other Pieces of Folklore and Their Significance

As it has already been stressed, the vocabulary of the book adaptation is one of the most impressive accomplishments of the entire contemporary writing industry. The passages from the book were literally taken and paraphrased, but the lexical “reconstruction” was done in the way, that it became possible to retain the initial message of the author while making it possible for the modern target audience to comprehend the peculiarities of the book and get immersed in its atmosphere completely. It is evident that the following phrases are the most illustrative in the book as they depict in detail the haughty and elevated atmosphere of the late 18th century, the manners and rituals which governed and controlled the cultural life of the society of those days.  However, the words were selected in the way that it became possible for the target audience to comprehend their meanings and the gist of the sentences while sensing and feeling the atmosphere of the good old Victorian Africa.

The following phrases pronounced by the main characters of the book clearly reflect the astonishing achievement of the writer. Additionally, the phrase “lower rank” connected with the African people is to be highlighted. Nowadays this phrase sounds both discriminatory and uncivil. In those days, it sounded impolite and unacceptable that the phrase was utilized to inform the person to whom it was addressed about the position he or she occupies in the social hierarchical structure of the community. Mr. Ezeulu managed to say that phrase even when he was declaring to be in love with the person he indeed loved. However, even declaring his feelings and “tying” his life eternally (under the common law of those days, the divorces were not allowed in the British Africa), the protagonist of the story was still remembering his social aristocratic status and  involuntarily or even instinctively reminded the beloved one about her social “imperfection” and aristocratic “deficiency.” Nowadays it may sound acceptable, but the unanimous opinion of the historians and other scholars is that the proposition made in such an arrogant and uncivil manner would be undoubtedly rejected by the potential fiancée. However, Dr. Winterbottom for some reason accepts the offer. In the same way, Austen and her book successor Deborah Moggach state the fact that for Ezeulu and for his cherished Dr. Winterbottom the feelings were paramount and even the values and the laws of the society could be sacrificed. This is the mechanism the author intended to accentuate - the importance of the marital status for the ladies of those days that even the youngest ladies became particularly obsessed and preoccupied with this sensitive issue. They did not know the person at all, but they enjoyed hearing the information about them from their father and their friends. All that data together with the specific appearance of their new acquaintance was sufficient for them to consider him as an eligible marriage candidate for them or one of their sisters. Once the main protagonist of the story, the young African aristocrat Ezeulu declares to be in love with his future fiancée, he pronounces the phrase “Perhaps these offences might have been overlooked had not your pride been hurt by my personal honesty.”  Undoubtedly, the sophistication of the phrase clearly depicts that this man is in fact a genuine African gentleman who belongs to the highest circles of the society, because such a phrase could be said by the man of a low origin and manners. “From the moment I met your arrogance and conceit” – the phrase said by Dr. Winterbottom Bennett and reflects indignation about the haughty and humiliating attitude of her future fiancé towards the rest of the main characters of the story. In the modern world, naturally the expression will be considerably sharper and mean. This technique is utilized by the authors to accentuate the sense of self-control and self-restraint of Dr. Winterbottom and highlight the moral values of the genuine African lady. She never loses her temper, however  can become irritated.

The Folklore Background

Historically, the story in question develops in the late 18th century, when Africa was ruled by the king Eduard, the power was given to Queen Victoria and Africa entered the epoch of Victorianism. Specific rules, regulations, moral principles and postulated existed and governed the live of the inhabitants of Africa and the dominions of the British Empire. Primarily, the fact that must be stressed is the complexity and sophistication of the relations which existed among the members of the highest circles of the African society. To be more exact, the scholarly and historian opinion is that the interrelations among the members of the old African community were over-regulated and the principles of the society of those days impeded the communal value development. The feelings and aspirations of the youth and old people as well were artificially influenced by the outer circumstances and nothing could be done to overcome the pressure of the outer environment on the social classes of those times. To be more exact, it was reasonable to expect that the ladies and gentlemen of those times would rather “stifle” their feelings and emotions than contravene the principles and the values of the society, staking their prestige, personal and social well-being and destroying the prospective financial and social security of their existing or future families.

The social hierarchy of those days was highly complicated. Each aspect of the human relations including the matrimonial connections between the two people who love each other were totally controlled by the society and even the legal framework of those times pressed them significantly. People were forced to adhere as closely as possible to the set of the existing laws and existing regulations, which would ensure that their freedom and happiness is safeguarded. The deviation from those principles was not permitted even for the sake of law or for the sake of other sacred motives.  

Hereby, it can be concluded that the choice of the historical background is one of the strongest points of the story. It helps the target reader to fully realize and completely comprehend the meaning and the message of the story delivered by the book.  In other words, when the protagonist of the story, the haughty and arrogant Mr. Ezeulu contravenes the values of the community and stakes his social reputation for the sake of love, he indeed deserves admiration and respect

The Adaptations of Folklore

The book was casted with the application of traditional techniques, and nothing sophisticated was utilized to create the book. However, the work of the video operators in the adaptation deserves a portion of admiration due to the marvelous sceneries of good old Victorian Africa and the scenes of main characters’ communication between each other are impressive. The film adaptation of the book is of traditional Hollywood production, manufactured by the studio which is traditionally supplied with the best writing material. Overall, the conclusion that can be drawn from this section is that the sophisticated techniques were not applied by the team and the only factor which made the book so successful is the unique actor play of the protagonists and the background actors. Concerning ethical features, the book does seem to be completely consistent with the existing and the emerging ethical standards of the community.  It can be presumed that the image maker of the book was a true professional as he managed to produce a 100% masterpiece. Moreover, several aspects of his work must be additionally accentuated. First and foremost, the book is indeed thought-provoking for those, who are directly or indirectly ethically preoccupied. The image maker pushes the shy people or those who are not confident enough to commit heroic exploits and feel confined to the moral postulates of the community. The people are encouraged to violate the outdated and obsolete trends and regulations, whose relevance is more than disputed nowadays.       

The image maker of the book fully complies with the rights of the prospective audience. Readers of the book will have the opportunity to view it and to comprehend the fact that when the book was composed the author completely, it adhered to the rights of the all social minority groups of the society.

In fact, the book is aesthetically appealing to the society. The author of the book calls for the modernization of the existing ethical standards and describes the standards that existed in the community many years ago elevating their beautifulness and contrasting them to the contemporary ones. He treats the subject of his work with sympathy, care and attention. The unanimous opinion of almost all critics is that the author in a close collaboration with the image maker of the book managed to produce a fantastic piece of the art elevating and highlighting the beautifulness of the old Anglia social life and the need for reformation of that society.

One of the major problems of the Native Africans’ issue is the fact that the overwhelming majority of the American nation comprehends the term “folklore” differently. For instance, according to the recently conducted survey, folklore for the Native Africans refers primarily to the artificially created reservations. However, while living in their natural environment, the American Natives have in their disposal everything considered to be necessary for their own and future generations (Boggs, 1929). Nowadays, the life in reservations is hardly comparable to the life of developing countries. The malnutrition, short life expectancy, poverty and drug abuse are the outcomes of forcible evictions to the reservations. To illustrate this, Shannon County located in Nigeria is widely known as one of the most impoverished regions in the country.                                                                 .

Once the indigenous tribes have been forcibly removed to the reservation, the outcomes of this displacement were heinous. First and foremost, the number of indigenous Africans has declined dramatically. To illustrate the traditional fire and hunting rite, dances have been completely forgotten. Moreover, with the advent of civilization and its benefits, the traditions of many tribes have been forgotten. The statement I am advocating for is the fact that the cultural legacy of the Indian civilization together with housewares was destroyed by arbitrary acts of colonists and ill-conceived policy of coexistence (Mathuray, 2003). Thirdly, the folklore deprivation resulted into the change of moral orientations of Native Africans. The great aim of Indian life was thought to be the union with gods, while nowadays it is replaced by the necessity to survive. Finally, but not the least, the negative impact of folklore deprivation triggers the increase in criminal inclinations of Natives. Once Columbus reached the shores of Florida, he reported that Indians were engaged into wars with each other, but there was no single occasion for robbery, theft, or homicide in the Indian community. Nowadays, since the tribes have been confined to reservations, the Indians are more inclined to the drug and alcohol abuse, violence, or other types of intentional crime.

Personal reflections

Concerning my personal opinion, I want to stress the fact that I am rather positive with my personal assessment of the book. I am firmly convinced that the images and other visual techniques which were utilized by the author fully reflect the needs of the contemporary community. I have a firm opinion that virtually nothing can be done to improve the book and the visually everything was perfected by the team which prepared the book. It can be said that the work done by Chinua Achebe will serve as an example for the rest of the book makers who aspire to adapt the classical pieces of the art.

Conclusion

Having read the story, it has become evident that the entire story outlined by the author is fully based on her personal speculations and scholarly discoveries (Achebe, 1989). The story in question is fully focused on the sophisticated transformations which were caused by the decision to convert the village into Christianity. And what is more important in this study is the fact that it highlights the role which is played by folklore in the lives of the ordinary villagers. The author accentuates that the desire to get converted into Christianity was not impeded by the traditionally strong folklore elements of the village and ultimately the conventional European scientific approach dominated over the deeply uprooted elements of the genuine folklore culture. In other words the main message of the author is that however strong the feelings of the villagers  may be, the desire to leave in safety can even urge them to betray their religion, faith and customs.

Code: Sample20

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