In the Shadow of War

by Ben Okri

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What are the strong and weak points of "In the Shadow of War"?

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Ben Okri's story “In the Shadow of War” contains far more strong points than weak points, but let's look at a few of each.

In terms of strong points, the story is packed with symbolism. The plot is easy to follow, but it serves as a vehicle for deeper meanings that make readers think about the horrors of war in new ways. The author includes plenty of vivid details that bring the story's setting to life in readers' minds. Further, the choice of a boy as the protagonist lends an innocence to the story's perspective that an adult character would have lacked. The boy Omovo is not muddled by as many presuppositions as adults have, so his view is clearer. Other characters, too, are fascinating. Omovo's father is a strange blend of traditional and modern, and the woman with the veil is mysterious yet strong and tragic.

When we turn our attention to weak points in the story, we might notice the lack of background context that can leave readers somewhat baffled. We know that there is a war going on, but we don't know the details, and this is confusing. Perhaps the story is supposed to be, for Omovo himself is confused, and we are seeing through his perspective. Still, we would like to know more. Further, the story breaks off without resolution. This is likely intentional, but it leaves readers with unresolved questions about what Omovo really saw and who is really the evil party. Again, these questions are deliberate, but they can also be a frustrating end to a traditional story.

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