From THE FOREST PEOPLE by Colin M. Turnbull: a)   How do the eventual resolutions of disputes between Cephu and Kelemoke instruct the reader further in the pygmy worldview found in the chapter,...

From THE FOREST PEOPLE by Colin M. Turnbull:

a)   How do the eventual resolutions of disputes between Cephu and Kelemoke instruct the reader further in the pygmy worldview found in the chapter, "The Giver of the Law”?

b)   What passage in chapters 8 and 9 gives an example of a lesson that Turnbull may be trying to impart on his readers. Does he succeed in teaching his readers the message?

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jayneaire eNotes educator| Certified Educator

a)   How do the eventual resolutions of disputes between Cephu and Kelemoke instruct the read further in the pygmy worldview found in the chapter, "The Giver of the Law”?

Kelemoke’s incestuous act is clearly seen as a serious breach of trust within the pygmy community. Although they do not have written laws, they do have a high sense of morality and what constitutes societal rights and wrongs. After initial anger and threats of violence, the pygmies essentially wait to see if Kelemoke is able to learn from his own mistakes. The elders leave it up to him when to return from his forest exile and the community members decide in their own way when and how to accept Kelemoke back into the fold. The pygmies understand that Kelemoke’s role as a hunter is indispensable, but he also seems to realize that he needs to learn from his transgressions in order to regain the trust and compassion he seems to crave. The pygmies seem to display a deep knowledge of individual accountability and trust each other to live within the bounds of their societal expectations. If an individual momentarily loses sight of his or her responsibilities, then there is trust within the community that he or she will find the way to become a highly functioning member of society once again.

b)   What passage in chapters 8 and 9 gives an example of a lesson that Turnbull may be trying to impart on his readers. Does he succeed in teaching his readers the message?

A passage that strikes me as containing a significant lesson about independence appears in Chapter 8: The Dance of Death:

…[S]inging that night was perhaps the best it had ever been. The molimo sang the most wistful songs, and the men answered it with love. When some of the youngsters began to dance Moke shook his head and told them to leave that for the village. Tonight was for singing. And just before dawn, when the molimo was about to leave the fireside, it sang to each of us in turn. It caressed the melody with love, and passed over our heads, one by one. As it left, Moke came around the group and stood a moment in front of each of us. His hands fluttered lightly around our bodies, occasionally touching us as gently as the breeze. When he had finished he stood by the fire and sang to the forest by himself, with the molimo answering from a great distance, getting fainter and fainter. Finally they were both singing so quietly that I could hardly distinguish their music from the music of the crickets and the frogs and the birds of the night. Somewhere a hyrax gave its throaty, rasping call of despair, and an owl hooted. Moke sat down, and nobody spoke, and nobody sang. Something wonderful had come into our lives and filled them with the magic of love and trust, and though we still possessed that love and trust, we regretted the going of the power that had brought it.

Turnbull implies that he learns a lesson of significant importance in witnessing the pygmies’ access their higher power. Turnbull uses imagery appealing to a sense of hearing as he describes the quiet, wild power of the forest. Turnbull seems to believe that this moment is evidence that the pygmies have harnessed the spirituality of the forest. Turnbull comments that this “wonderful” moment is filled with regret in knowing that the outside villagers are slowly draining the pygmies’ spiritual roots.

The lesson I take away from this passage is that the pygmies, despite their lack of technology and modern civilization, have a much more powerful force than the technological advancements in their midst. However, the wonder and magic of their traditions will soon be wiped away and forgotten in this rapidly advancing world that seems to value currency more than fulfilling connections to nature. In my opinion, Turnbull does succeed in teaching this message to his readers because his diction allows the reader to slow their thinking and contemplate the value of the pygmy ceremonies.