What is the theme of The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born"?

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The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born is a soul-searching novel written in response to "the rot which imprisoned everything." The influence of imperialism on the new government of Ghana cannot be overlooked and even though "the sons of the nation" are controlling their beloved country, there are still "palms getting greased" but there is no excuse any more. They cannot or do not want to break free from the capitalist-style system which profits them but leaves others destitute. The novel is a personal account of one, significantly unnamed, man's struggle to fight against this corruption, making corruption, and the institutionalizing of it, a major theme of the book.

The description of the banister as the man ascends the stairs in his office block talks of the "organic" feeling of the wood and yet it leaves him  thinking of all the "diseased skin" that has touched the banister, and so, for him it represents all that represses the human spirit. He accepts that "loneliness" will result as he cannot win. The unnamed man must suffer the humiliation of being compared to his more successful colleague and old school friend Koomson who is idolized by the man's wife and family. As a junior government official, it would be easy for the unnamed man to advance his career but to do so would mean accepting bribes just like Koomson. He experiences isolation and rejection and his family accuse him of being disloyal because he fails to provide adequately for them.

It is a sad fact that" it costs you more money if you go to the police" meaning that to get their co-operation, there will inevitably be more money changing hands which ironically only contributes to and extends the corruption. The result is a "living death" whether caused by poverty or corruption. The man is expected to behave like his counterparts because "if you work in the same office you can eat from the same bowl" he is told and he is the one who is made to feel guilty in his refusal. 

The novel will ultimately reveal how the man's determination is his saving grace and is his salvation (another theme). He will save Koomson and earn his wife's respect but he knows that the cycle of corruption will continue. To the reader, however, he is the "beautyful" one. 

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The theme is salvation.  Check the link below for a detailed explanation of the theme. 


"The theme of salvation is central: The novel is about a man’s soul, and by extension a nation’s soul, in search of a way out of the vicious cycle of birth and decay—in search of the “beautyful.”

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