How does colonization play out in The Dark Child?

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Colonization has a significant effect on the characters in Camara Laye's autobiographical work The Dark Child. Laye grows up in a village in Guinea, where he experiences a blend of traditional African and Muslim customs. Laye's father is a devout Muslim (which shows an outside influence, for Islam was not native to the area), but he also practices elements of traditional African religion. Laye, too, follows the traditional practices of his village, including the circumcision right that inducts him into manhood.

Laye goes to boarding school in Conakry, and here he encounters the colonial influence in a much greater way than in his village. He runs into language barriers and cultural conflicts as he struggles to combine Muslim, French, and African styles of education. He is experiencing a whole new world, and it is sometimes overwhelming. Eventually, Laye flourishes, though. He learns how to incorporate the various influences in his life, including the colonial, and he graduates at the top of his class.

Laye then receives an opportunity to continue his education in France. His parents, especially his mother, are hesitant. They know that this experience will change their son forever. His father decides to be encouraging, but his mother weeps and rages and rails against the European influence that is taking her son away from her and changing their country so much. Eventually, though, she agrees to let Laye go, and he embarks on a new adventure, one that he would probably never have had without the colonization of his country.

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