Themes and Meanings
Characterization in Ambiguous Adventure is so pointedly typed that characters represent variations on the central philosophical tension in the novel: The values of the modern West force a movement from the values of traditional Islamic West Africa toward a universal destiny of oppositions united in nothingness. Science, progress, external evidence, materialism, and light oppose belief, stability, internal devotion, spirituality, and darkness. On the one hand, Islam, from the point of view in the West, is a “fascination of nothingness for those who have nothing. Their nothingness—they call it the absolute.” On the other hand, the West, from the Islamic West African point of view, “is the triumph of evidence, a proliferation of the surface,” which creates “masters of the external,” exiling those masters to a superficial world. For Europeans, truth is revealed day by day. For West African Muslims, truth comes from the belief “in the end of the world” and “takes its place at the end of history.” To the chief, Western values contract and constrain truth to increasingly relativistic, narrow, egoistic concerns. To Lacroix, the Diallobe pursue a cosmic drama that befits a defeated people who revel in absurd fears. Their common ground is only that both “shall have, strictly, the same future” of “the crucible in which the world is being fused.”
That future is the torn conscience of Samba, in which the converging destinies of...
(The entire section is 499 words.)