I want to know about "The Old Chief Mshlanga".Structuralism, Marxism, and Ideology


Doris Lessing

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Doris Lessing is the author of "The Old Chief Mshlanga", a short story published in her African collection, That Was the Old Chief Country (1951). The story centers on a young white girl and her experience with an African chief which illuminates the differences between colonials and natives. The story reveals that colonialism prevents true friendship and disallows coexistence even though she tries to connect with the land and its native people. The narrator who is born into colonialism, eventually understands that she is an unwelcome stranger.

If one were to look at this story from a Structuralist approach, the structural element  of point of view becomes important. At the beginning of the story, a young girl is introduced, later revealed to be the narrator. As she becomes more independent, her views  rise above those of her white culture. Also the structure of the story is based on a series of meetings between the girl and the natives, but the structure of the story is broken when she learns the Chief and his people have vanished.

If one were to look at this story from a Marxist approach, the ideological view of the story would be emphasized. Think of it as the canvas on which the writer creates or the historical context that influenced her writing. A Marxist approach concentrates on the relationship between people in different classes. Class struggle is a main idea in Marxist ideology.

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