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Pragmatic Analysis of Chibok Girls. GBAMLOG.COM

Literature is so significant that it can perform a lot of functions. One of such functions definitely has to be the affective function. Literature can be affective when it aims to produce certain effects on the reader. Having established this fact, it is ideal to state that this essay aims to display the affective power of literature by conducting a pragmatic analysis of the text Chibok Girls.

The text in question has its characters and setting drawn from real life; hence, it can be described as a realistic one. It contains the investigations carried out by Helon Habila in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria. The investigation revolves around the history and causes of insecurity in Nigeria. Because of the presence of the writer at strategic places that have been affected by violence instigated by the dreaded sect, Boko Haram, this text can be described as one which contains first-hand information on the prevalent issues plaguing the country.

The title of the text is significant because it captures the most notable and internationally-recognised crime perpetuated by Boko Haram — that is, the abduction of 276 school girls on the 24th April, 2014, by Boko Haram. This title, however, does not constitute the focal point of this report, rather it serves as an instance which illustrates the ruthlessness of the Boko Haram sect.

Insecurity, as highlighted in the text, is as a result of activities such as terrorism, bad governance, corruption, religious-instigated violence etc. All these issues no doubt are bound to have certain didactic or other forms of effects on the reader. Some of these effects include: pity, fear, anger, apathy, and the didactic lesson of early prevention.

Pity is one of the major effects this text has on the reader. This is plausible because ruthless and despicable acts of Boko Haram on harmless civilians will without doubt draw out the pity of the audience. A good example is how the mother of Riskatu, one of the abducted girls, is made to narrate the painful events of the day her daughter was kidnapped. This instance, surely, is significant because it captures the pain and suffering which the parents and the relations of the abducted girls are going through because of their ignorance on the status of their daughters — that is, are they alive or are they dead? Another object of the reader’s pity has to be the abducted girls who will now serve as wives and concubines of terrorists instead of being with their families and completing their education. Unarguably, the pragmatic effect of pity is brought to the fore through the theme of terrorism.

Another pragmatic effect the text will likely have on the audience is that of fear. Human beings are creatures who fear a lot of things, ranging from known and unknown dangers. In the case of this text, the reader’s fear is justified because of several reasons. One of these reasons has to be the reader’s in-depth knowledge of the activities of this sect, and another reason for the reader’s fear, obviously, is the fact that the reader is a Nigerian; hence, he is not completely safe from the violence caused by the nonchalance of the government towards small and large-scale criminal activities and, of course, violence instigated by religious extremism as seen in the way Yusuf, the elder brother of Shekau, was able to spur his followers to commit several atrocities, and also, through the Maitatsine Uprising, as described by Helon Habila in the text. Hence, one can be certain to say that the themes of violence, terrorism, religious extremism etc., are sure to instigate the feeling of great fear in the reader.

When talking about the pragmatic effect this text has on the reader, one is sure to mention anger. The reader is surely going to experience anger at the government because of their nonchalant attitude towards fighting crime and safeguarding the lives and property of Nigerians. This attitude is captured by Habila in the way he narrates the transition of different government and the way they have all handled insecurity with levity. The focus, however, centres on Jonathan’s regime as president because it was during his tenure that the Boko Haram sect committed their most notable atrocity — that is, the abduction of the school girls from Chibok. The security agencies are also not innocent. Habila, through his report, captures instances where soldiers decided to collect bribes instead of arresting offenders. Surely, the callousness of the government officials and military personnel will surely emit the anger of the reader.

Furthermore on the pragmatic effect this novel has on the reader is that of apathy. Apathy in this sense means disinterest. This disinterest encompasses both religious and political participation. Because of the extreme way in which the insurgents attacked churches, many Christians, especially those living in areas in the north, will, of course, find it difficult to feel safe during church service; hence, they will end up avoiding service to God. An example of Boko Haram’s ruthless way of dealing with Christians is captured by Reverend Madu’s story on how his church was attacked. Muslims themselves are not exempted from religious apathy. Habila reports stories of clerics who were killed because they spoke against the tenets of Boko Haram. All these acts of violence against religious institutions will surely make the readers feel discouraged about religion.

Still on apathy as a pragmatic effect, one can, of course, not gainsay the fact that the activities of Boko Haram has caused a lot of people to become apathetic towards politics. This is evident in that there has been no elections in Chibok for years because of the fears of an attack by the terrorists. This political apathy will surely manifest itself in the reader because they will, without doubt, contemplate their safety during elections, and this will ultimately make them sit at home instead of voting. Another cause of political apathy definitely has to be the Nigerian irresponsible government. Helon Habila does not mince words as he reports how the government both at federal and state level have played huge roles in the current malaise of insecurity plaguing the country. Knowledge of this irresponsibility on the part of the government is likely to make the reader brand everyone in politics as birds of a feather; hence, the reader will surely show nonchalance towards politics.

Finally, the didactic lesson that can be learnt from Habila’s report is that early action by the government towards the prevention of crime is the solution to insecurity in the country. Habila draws attention to this by constantly reporting or emphasising how the various governments in Nigeria have ignored the signs of an uprising until it became out of hand as seen in the Maitatsine Uprising and Boko Haram Insurgency. Because history is deemed as a great teacher, it is expected that Nigerians (both the government and the readers) should learn from past mistakes in order to avoid repeating these errors.

In conclusion, the text Chibok Girls is one which captures the realities of people living in Nigeria. It is set in Nigeria; therefore, it may be regarded as one which will have lots of pragmatic effects on Nigerian readers. Some of these effects have been discussed in this essay; thus, proving that the text Chibok Girls is one which can be defined based on its affective powers on the reader.

Ude, Chiedozie Orji.

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Romance Classics : GIFT OF THE MAGI | GBAMLOG.COM 

 

ONE DOLLAR AND EIGHTY-SEVEN CENTS. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheek burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas. There was clearly nothing left to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating. While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it cer tainly had that word on the look-out for the mendicancy squad. In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name ‘Mr. James Dillingham Young.’ The ‘Dillingham’ had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, the letters of ‘Dillingham’ looked blurred, as though they were thinking seri ously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called ‘Jim’ and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good. Delia finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence in a grey backyard. To-morrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Some thing fine and rare and sterling – something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honour of being owned by Jim. There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Per haps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art. Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its colour within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length. Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the Queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy. So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her, rippling and shin ing like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet. On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out of the door and down the stairs to the street. Where she stopped the sign read: ‘Mme. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.’ One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, pant ing. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the ‘Sofronie.’ ‘Will you buy my hair?’ asked Della. ‘I buy hair,’ said Madame. ‘Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it.’ Down rippled the brown cascade. ‘Twenty dollars,’ said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand ‘Give it to me quick,’ said Della. Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present. She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation – as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value – the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain. When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends – a mammoth task. Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, closelying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically. ‘If Jim doesn’t kill me,’ she said to herself, ‘before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do – oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?’ At seven o’clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove, hot and ready to cook the chops. Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit of saying little silent prayers about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: ‘Please God, make him think I am still pretty.’ The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two – and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves. Jim stepped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face. Della wriggled off the table and went for him. ‘Jim, darling,’ she cried, ‘don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold it because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It’ll grow out again – you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say “Merry Christmas!” Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice – what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.’ ‘You’ve cut off your hair?’ asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labour. ‘Cut it off and sold it,’ said Della. ‘Don’t you like me just as well, anyhow? I’m me without my hair, ain’t I?’ Jim looked about the room curiously. ‘You say your hair is gone?’ he said with an air almost of idiocy. ‘You needn’t look for it,’ said Della. ‘It’s sold, I tell you – sold and gone, too. It’s Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,’ she went on with a sudden serious sweetness, ‘but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?’ Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year – what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on. Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table. ‘Don’t make any mistake, Dell,’ he said, ‘about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going awhile at first.’ White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat. For there lay The Combs – the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped for long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoiseshell, with jewelled rims – just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone. But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: ‘My hair grows so fast, Jim!’ And then Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, ‘Oh, oh!’ Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit. ‘Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.’ Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled. ‘Dell,’ said he, ‘let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em awhile. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.’ The magi, as you know, were wise men – wonderfully wise men – who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the unevent ful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days, let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

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