How would you sum up Jonathan's attitude toward life?

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troutmiller's profile pic

troutmiller | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Jonathan has a great outlook on life.  He is 100% optimistic.  He and his family have survived the war.  Most of his house still stands, and he is able to use his bike to make some money as a taxi.  Once he finds that he lost his job as a miner, he turns his house into a bar and does well with that.  He is even robbed by thieves, and yet he looks at the bright side.  The money he lost wasn't ever really figured into his savings anyway.  It was unexpected, so he gets up the next day to work as if it's any other day.  All of these negative experiences could have broken him down.  Instead, he is a man of integrity and optimism.

kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Jonathan Iwegbu's attitude toward life can be summed up with very cheerful and optimistic words. He is spiritually attuned. He is trusting. He is grateful and thankful for small mercies, like the reclamation of his bike, and large mercies, like the survival of his "family's five heads." He recognizes that no matter how wonderful all other blessings are, like the continued existence of his old house, there is nothing greater than the survival of his wife and children. He speaks lovingly and reverently of the family's "five heads" even though he and his wife had lost their youngest son.

He had come out of the war with five inestimable blessings—his head, his wife Maria's head and the heads of three out of four children.

A person's attitude is their way of thinking about life and living that is reflected in their behavior. Part of Jonathan's behavior, a part that is critical to understanding him and his attitude, is that he feels that he may be puzzled—and indeed overwhelmed with fear as on the night of "Na-tief-man and him people"—but he is convinced that "Nothing puzzles God." He makes this statement four times with variations. The lines are like a poetic refrain to a poem of Jonathan's life:

Nothing puzzles God.
Indeed nothing puzzles God!
But nothing puzzles God.
Nothing puzzles God.

He puts small things, blessings or terrors, in perspective against large. His attitude reflects his belief in a God who is greater and wiser than he himself. He knows when to let go and see the loss with a wise perspective.

I say, let egg-rasher perish in the flames! Let it go where everything else has gone. Nothing puzzles God.

teachsuccess's profile pic

teachsuccess | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Jonathan is not only an optimist but also a courageous entrepreneur: even in the midst of uncertainty, he looks for opportunities at every step of the way to ensure the continued survival of his family. He is stubbornly enterprising in the midst of hopelessness and refuses to give in to despair.

With the one hundred and fifteen Biafran pounds he makes from "ferrying camp officials and their families across the four-mile stretch to the nearest tarred road," he pays an impoverished carpenter fifty Biafran pounds to put his little house back to move-in condition after the Nigerian Civil War. For material, he gets up earlier than any of the usual foragers and manages to rustle up some "old zinc and wood and soggy sheets of cardboard." When the windows, doors and roof are all fixed using these materials, he, his wife, Maria, and their three children move in joyfully.

While he is enterprising, he is also a pragmatist. Knowing that difficult times bring out an almost ferocious survival instinct in his fellow humans, he is especially careful to hide any money he earns from the eyes of his fellow survivors. He notes that days earlier, a man was robbed of twenty pounds by "some heartless ruffian."

Even though he loses the egg rasher money (twenty pounds) he earned from turning in rebel Igbo money to the Nigerian government (The Igbo tried to secede from Nigeria to start the Republic of Biafra but lost the battle for this right in the Nigerian War 1967-1970), Jonathan refuses to live like a victim. His personal adage is "nothing puzzles God." This personal faith is his courage to live life the way he does everyday.


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