Summary (Masterplots II: British and Commonwealth Fiction Series)
Except for his entry into the Bush of Ghosts at the beginning and his return to the human world at the end, what happens to the narrator of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts seems haphazard. This impression results from the fact that the story shares with oral storytelling and with dreams a sequence of events controlled by feelings rather than logic. The narrator, for example, passes through various towns in the Bush of Ghosts, but the numbers attached to them give no clue to the order in which they are encountered, for he comes to the seventh town first and the fourth town last.
The story, however, is held together by the transformations that the narrator undergoes. These transformations tend to plot his progress from helplessness to power, both of which are summarized at the end when he reenters the human world.
The narrator’s odyssey begins when he is seven years old. A raiding party attacks his village looking for slaves; separated from his older brother, who leaves him with two pieces of fruit from a tree called the “Future Sign,” he flees into the bush and soon finds himself trapped in a world populated by ghosts and “ghostesses,” who are not the human dead (though, as he eventually discovers, his dead cousin dwells among them) but a humanlike race which often demonstrates magical powers and is impervious to death. The narrator’s first transformation occurs when the Smelling Ghost takes him to the town where he is the king. By means of a juju, the Smelling Ghost transforms him into a camel, into a horse, and back into himself by turns. Having managed to steal the juju, the narrator escapes but turns into a cow. Later, after spending some time among “burglar-ghosts” and marrying the young daughter of a wealthy ghost in the eighth town of ghosts, he continues his quest for the human world. He finds himself confined in a pitcher, his neck and head transformed to an outlandish size. He is placed at a crossroads and worshiped as a...
(The entire section is 807 words.)
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Bibliography (Masterplots II: British and Commonwealth Fiction Series)
Collins, Harold R. Amos Tutuola, 1969.
Collins, Harold R. “Founding a New National Literature: The Ghost Novels of Amos Tutuola,” in Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction. IV (Fall, 1960/Winter, 1961), pp. 17-28.
Lindfors, Bernth. “Amos Tutuola’s Television-handed Ghostess,” in Folklore in Nigerian Literature, 1973.
Lindfors, Bernth, ed. Critical Perspectives on Amos Tutuola, 1975.
Nyang’Aya, Elijah. “The Freakish Tutuola,” in Standpoints on African Literature, 1973.