Homework Help

How far does The Famished Road furnish the reader with a vision that is universal?

user profile pic

florine | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted May 4, 2013 at 11:22 AM via web

dislike 1 like

How far does The Famished Road furnish the reader with a vision that is universal?

3 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 4, 2013 at 11:49 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

There is much in Okri's work that can help to furnish the reader with a vision that is universal.  One example of this is the material struggles that Azaro's family undergoes.  Azaro's father sacrifices mightily for the family, experiencing physical abuse in the form of boxing for the benefit of his family.  Azaro's mother sacrifices her own comfort in order for her family to be better off.  In this, one sees the universality of how financial conditions and material reality fundamentally challenges individuals.  This challenge is tempered by the affection and love that family members feel for one another.  In this, one sees a universal vision in that families struggle with the reality of material conditions.

The allegorical feel of the novel helps to enhance its universal reach.  Consider the description that Okri offers about a condition of "hunger" that pervades the novel and its characters:  “In the beginning there was a river. The river became a road and the road branched out to the whole world. And because the road was once a river it was always hungry.”  This condition of being as one in which there is a perpetual state of hunger helps to enhance the universal reach of the novel.  The condition of human beings as being creatures that find consciousness a state in which hunger is to be satiated is a part of this being.  It is in this where the novel goes very far in being able to enhance its reach as universal.

Sources:

user profile pic

florine | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted May 4, 2013 at 1:43 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

There is much in Okri's work that can help to furnish the reader with a vision that is universal.  One example of this is the material struggles that Azaro's family undergoes.  Azaro's father sacrifices mightily for the family, experiencing physical abuse in the form of boxing for the benefit of his family.  Azaro's mother sacrifices her own comfort in order for her family to be better off.  In this, one sees the universality of how financial conditions and material reality fundamentally challenges individuals.  This challenge is tempered by the affection and love that family members feel for one another.  In this, one sees a universal vision in that families struggle with the reality of material conditions.

The allegorical feel of the novel helps to enhance its universal reach.  Consider the description that Okri offers about a condition of "hunger" that pervades the novel and its characters:  “In the beginning there was a river. The river became a road and the road branched out to the whole world. And because the road was once a river it was always hungry.”  This condition of being as one in which there is a perpetual state of hunger helps to enhance the universal reach of the novel.  The condition of human beings as being creatures that find consciousness a state in which hunger is to be satiated is a part of this being.  It is in this where the novel goes very far in being able to enhance its reach as universal.

 

        Thank you very much. After all, the book is entitled the Famished Road! What about magic realism and the supernatural in the novel? How does it function for readers in Western societies? How can they have a better understanding of it? 

user profile pic

florine | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted May 10, 2013 at 6:05 PM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

        I think Okri insistently used the phrase "re-dream the world" in his writings, including The Famished Road, in order to establish a link between the supernatural world of spirits and the real world with its economic, political and social dimensions.

        However, one of the main issues, at least one of the themes broached by a Nigerian poet like Osundare, was the fact that postcolonial literature was still to be judged by the "centre" and that a "mentality of the margin" as regards the greatest African novelists was still prevalent at the time. 

      All in all,  I think Okri's intellectual and cultural background made it possible for  his novels to  have this universal dimension that is so attractive, before he moved toward writings even more rooted in mythopetics and allegory. The Famished Road could undoubtedly be considered to be "literature at the crossroads".

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes