What does the title of "Stars of the New Curfew" mean?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is a deliberate play on words in this title of this short story, that brilliantly captures the essence of modern Africa in all of its violence, rage and sadness. Let us remember that a curfew is a rule imposed normally by military regimes during times of hardship or rebellion that necessitates citizens being in their houses at a certain hour and does not allow them to venture out past this time. There is a deliberate irony, therefore, in pointing to the "stars" of such a time, or the heroes that preside over such periods of unrest and rebellion.

However, at the same time, in the middle of the violence and casual acts of random cruelty, there is a sense in which the title draws our attention to the "stars" in the night sky that illumine and are a sign of beauty. Such a title therefore draws our attention to the strange coexistence of beauty alongside tragedy, and the story of the salesman who becomes increasingly troubled by the obviously false nature of the product he is ordered to sell so vigorously could be viewed as one of the "stars," or the pinpricks of light in an otherwise bleak and unyielding setting of tragedy and sadness.

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