Summary (Masterplots II: British and Commonwealth Fiction Series)
The events of the novel take place between Passion Week in 1965 and February 25, 1966, the day after the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president. On the political level, they describe the failure of a purportedly socialistic government, which is, in fact, as capitalistic as the white colonial regime it replaced. The new black leaders with white souls have, according to Ayi Kwei Armah, used their positions of power for personal gain. The corruption has filtered down to all levels of society, all economic relationships being based on intimidation, bribery, and fraud. What makes the society appear so bleak is that Armah reports it through the eyes of a rare individual who has retained his integrity: the man, an unnamed protagonist, has failed professionally because he has been too soft; he has been unable to play the bribery game. The only heroes in the society—that is, the only ones who succeed—are the hard ones who no longer feel moral or emotional hypocrisy. For the man, who speaks for Armah, the leaders of society are no different from the old African chiefs who sold their people in the slave trade for the trinkets of white society.
The novel divides neatly into two large parts. The first, which moves at an agonizingly slow pace, traces the daily routine of the man through a typical working day, beginning with the usual bus ride to the railway administration building where he is a traffic control clerk. The day is boringly uneventful,...
(The entire section is 923 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!