(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

The narrator lives contentedly as the son of a rich man who retains a palm-wine tapster for his son’s exclusive use. Each day, the tapster draws enormous amounts of palm-wine for the narrator, who drinks it with his friends. One day, after the narrator’s father has died, the tapster falls from a palm tree and is killed. The narrator misses his supply of palm-wine, and his friends no longer visit him, so he decides to go to Deads’ Town to find his tapster.

The narrator’s journey leads him from his town to various parts of the bush—that place outside civilization that is the habitation of all sorts of inhuman creatures. He has many adventures. For instance, he stays with a man who promises to give directions to Deads’ Town if the narrator will find Death and bring him to the town. The narrator tricks Death into coming along to the town. After that, Death cannot return to his former home, and so Death enters the world. The narrator asks again for directions to Deads’ Town, but his host says that he must first rescue his daughter, who had been attracted to a handsome gentleman and followed him into the bush. The gentleman is really a curious creature of the bush. He had returned to the bush and, as he entered, given back each bodily part that he had rented from a human being, until he was nothing but a skull; he then held the young woman captive. The narrator searches for the host’s daughter, finds her, and the two escape the bush.

The two marry and stay in her town until the day a child is born from her thumb, and is instantly able to speak, move, and eat and drink everything in sight. Driven from town because of this insatiable child, they wander into the bush, where they meet three persons named Drum, Dance, and Song. The child is so attracted by their music that he follows them. Released from their terrible companion, the narrator and his wife wander until they get to Wraith-Island. The beautiful creatures who live here have nothing to do but plant...

(The entire section is 814 words.)