TOPIC 4(a) : LITERATURE(NOVEL) – HOUSE BOY – english notes form three pdf download
By Ferdinand Oyono
Houseboy is a novel in the form of a diary written by Ferdinand Oyono, first published in 1956 by in French as Une vie de boy, and translated into English in 1966 by John Reed for Heinemann’s African Writers Series.
The novel starts in Spanish Guinea with a Frenchman on vacation, who finds a man named Toundi, who has been injured and soon dies. The Frenchman finds his diary, which is called an “exercise book” by Toundi. The rest of the story consists of the diary (exercise book) that the Frenchman is supposedly reading. There is no further discussion of the Frenchman after this point.
Title, Setting & Style of the Novel
The title of the novel is reflective of the character of the novel, Houseboy, or Toundi Ondoua, who works as a houseboy of different European houses. It is symbolic as it reflects the brutality and tortures that are undergone by the person who works under such influence. The experience of the ‘houseboy’ in the novel reflects the experiences of houseboys or housekeepers all over the world. The writer addresses how these people work hard for their bosses and how they are lowly paid. However, they are mistreated by their masters as if they are not part and parcel of masters’ wellbeing.
The novel is set in Africa during colonial rule especially an African colony under French Assimilation policy. The setting also shows how Africans were brutally regarded by the French in those days. This is the relevant setting to most African counties that were under French colonial rule. The novel also goes beyond and explores how people are racially segregated in various parts of the world nowadays.
Diary style, the author of this novel has chosen to present the events of the book in diary style. In the novel, we see this unique style when the main character narrates his life experiences through his diaries (in the novel they are known as ‘exercise books’) that are read by another person.
HOUSEBOY: THE PLOT
The plot of the novel is divided into two exercises (diaries). The novel’s plot can also be sub-divided into eight (9) important events which are named as follows:
(1) Toundi is found at Spanish guinea.
The story starts in Spanish Guinea with a Frenchman on vacation, who finds a man named Toundi. The man will soon die. The Frenchman finds Toundi’s diary, which is called an “exercise book”. At this Spanish Guinea, an island in Atlantic Ocean, Toundi, and a Frenchman from Cameroon is ill. He is found ill at the jungle village of M’foula. He cannot live to see tomorrow because his condition is bad. He has been badly injured and blood is covering his clothes. His hosts, Anton and his wife attend him. The drums beat and the people gather. The suffering man talks to his countrymen about how white men have mistreated him, and then he dies. He leaves one khaki bag, a comb, tooth brush, and two exercise books that he were using to keep his records as diaries. The rest of the story is of the diary (exercise book) that the Frenchman is supposedly reading. There is no further discussion of the Frenchman after this point.
The following is the whole story from his two exercise books (diaries).
FIRST EXERCISE BOOK
(2) His story begins at his father’s home.
The first “exercise book” starts with Toundi living with his family. His father beats him constantly, and one day he runs away from his home. He runs to the rescue of Father Gilbert, a priest who lives nearby. His father comes back for him, telling Toundi that everything will be alright if he comes back. He denies his father’s offer and after this point he no longer acknowledges his birth parents. It is also said that Toundi decides to run away from home when his greed led to a quarrel between his father and his friend’s father. It was this greed for simple things like a lump of sugar that led him to seek shelter at Father Gilbert’s residence and later the Commandant.
Toundi’s mother even predicts that his greed will lead him to his death.
“My mother always used to say what my greediness would bring me to in the end...” (Page 4).
Toundi still defies his parents and leaves to work as a domestic male servant, a houseboy, for the white men in his village. From one household to another he narrated his experience in form of a diary.
In fact, he is fascinated by the European way of life.
(3) Toundi’s life with Fr. Filbert.
Toundi treats Father Gilbert as his new father. Father Gilbert teaches Toundi to read and write, and he teaches Toundi about Catholicism. Toundi believes in Catholicism, but as the story progresses he drifts from his beliefs until the end, when he does not believe in God.
Gradually, he came to realize that all that glitters was not gold. He saw how the white men patronized and dehumanize his fellow villagers. As a result, he started finding fault with the principles of the “so called” Europeans. This, unambiguously, led to his downfall.
“Everybody told his own little African story to refute him and demonstrate that the African is a child or a fool…..”
(4) Fr. Filbert dies. Toundi comes under Commandant.
Father Gilbert dies in a motorcycle accident a few months after meeting Toundi. Fr. Vandermayer takes Fr. Gilbert’s position. Toundi lives with Fr. Vandermayer for a short period of time. He tortures him and finally hands him to another white man.
Toundi is eventually taken to live with the Commandant, the man in charge of the surrounding colony. He serves as the houseboy for the Commandant, and later Madame, the Commandant’s wife. It becomes very clear that the events that go on in the house are more important to Toundi than his own life.
(5) The arrival of Commandant’s wife.
After about six months since Toundi comes to live with the Commandant, Madame, the Commandant’s wife arrives from France. Commandant goes to Yaoundé and takes Madame Suzy, his wife from France. She initially is a warm and caring woman, who is very beautiful. She catches the eye of almost every man in town, much to the Commandant’s dismay.
Soon after Madame arrives the Commandant leaves to go on tour again. Toundi is left with Madame to take care of the house. As time goes on, Madame becomes more and more hostile and disrespectful towards Toundi. When the Commandant returns, she is portrayed as a ruthless woman. While the Commandant was still on tour, it becomes obvious that she is bored with her life. She begins to have an affair with M. Moreau, the man in charge of the prison. M. Moreau is perceived to be ruthless against the Africans. One of Toundi’s first experiences with M. Moreau had him whipping two other Africans nearly to death.
The rumour that Madame and M. Moreau are in love spread like a fire. All people in Dangan now know their affair. Toundi who is always sent by Madame to Prison Director, M. Moreau, is accused of spreading the rumours. The relationship between Toundi and Madame is becoming worse now after the rumours. Madame starts deteriorating Toundi and Toundi becomes more irrespectuful to her as well.
SECOND EXERCISE BOOK
(6) Commandant returns from tour
The Second Exercise book begins.
The Commandant returns from touring, and it is later discovered that he knew about his wife’s affair and returns because of it. The Commandant has a terrible argument with her, but after a few days they are getting along again.
Madame becomes very disrespectful towards Toundi, partly because she does not like being there anymore, but mostly because she knows that he knew about her affair.
(7) Toundi is arrested.
One day, Sophie, an Agricultural Engineer’s house girl and Toundi’s girlfriend, steals the money from his boss’ safe. Sophie, the lover of the water engineer is accused of stealing his workers’ salaries with the help of Toundi. He is taken to prison where he is tortured in order to confess a crime he had not committed.
She escapes to Spanish Guinea. In Dangan, Toundi is arrested by the police because they believe he is Sophie’s lover. Toundi is held in a hut near the police headquarters. Fortunately he has a friend who works there named Mendim, who is described as a very muscular man. He is feared by most other people but he soon comes to be known as Toundi’s ally. M. Moreau orders Mendim to beat up Toundi, but Mendim throws ox’s blood on him to make it look like he is injured. They spend the rest of the day playing cards.
Toundi becomes sick and Mendim takes Toundi to the hospital. They have to wait a very long time to see a doctor because the black doctor is the only doctor there; the other white doctor was promoted to captain. The doctor finds out that Toundi’s ribs are broken and have punctured his bronchi.
While still at the hospital, while Toundi is in a dazed state, M. Moreau returns with the white doctor. He talks about punishing Toundi some more. The relation between Toundi and Commandant has become worse, so Commandant allows Gullet, the Police Chief to arrest and torture Toundi.
(8) Toundi is put into police custody.
While Toundi is in Police Custody, his residence is raided and searched by the police. He is also punished badly and severely injured on the left lung where he was hit by a rifle butt. Mendim takes Toundi to the hospital where he later escapes to Spanish Guinea.
(9) The escape to Spanish guinea.
At this point, after M. Moreau has left, Toundi escapes the hospital, and heads to Spanish Guinea, which is where he was first introduced in the beginning of the novel.
Toundi has escaped from Cameroon where he was wanted for an alleged crime – a crime he did not commit but has been framed up for his part of spreading the amorous and sexual encounters between his master’s – the local Commandant – wife and the giant Prison Officer, M. Moreau. As a Houseboy, Toundi saw a lot in the house of his master especially when his master’s wife came to the household. And as innocent as he was couldn’t keep his mouth shut on such issues but went ahead to ask questions pertaining to what he sees and it was these that put him into trouble with his master’s wife and which later led to his death after escaping to Spanish Guinea. For instance, after discovering a condom under the bed of his master’s wife, after she had asked to him to clean the place, the master’s wife got angry and threw him out of the room. This got Toundi shocked. He doesn’t know why a common rubber should make the master’s wife angry so he set out to ask the other workers in the household, who told him,
“Toundi, will you never learn what a houseboy’s job is? One of these days you’ll be the cause of real trouble. When will you grasp that for the whites, you are only alive to do their work and for no other reason. I am the cook. The white man does not see me except with his stomach”. (Page 87)
Innocent as Toundi was and fascinated by the ways of the whites, he kept on asking questions even when Kalisia had told him to leave the household because
“… they will never forgive you for that. How can they go on strutting about with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth in front of you – when you know”. (Page 100)
So, the prophesy has been fulfilled. Being outspoken, Toundi prepared the way to his own death. At Spanish Guinea, he is badly injured by the beatings from the police and when he was in the process of escaping the white men.
Characterization is the writer’s process of creating characters in the story. In literary works, characters are often imaginary who are created out of author’s imagination. It also involves identifying the characters in a story and analyzing their physical, emotional, and psychological traits.
In the novel, Houseboy, the author has successfully created the following characters:
- He is the main character.
- He is named Joseph after being baptized.
- His family is poor that is why he runs away.
- He serves as male house servant, houseboy, to several white men; Fr. Gilbert and Commandant.
- He is fascinated by European ways of life at first, but later he realizes that the white men are hypocrites.
- He keeps diaries which are later narrated by other Cameroonian.
- He reflects child who are overworked in child labor.
- He is poor African man.
- He is disappointed by the way Toundi acts, especially by running away to Fr. Gilbert.
- He represents Africans who are oppressed, exploited, and humiliated by the white men.
- He is portrayed as a very harsh and brutal man especially when he beats Toundi regularly and his wife as well
- He likes to use abusive language.
- He lives by trapping porcupine for food.
- She is Agricultural Engineers house girl.
- She sleeps with both her Boss and Toundi. Thus she is also Toundis girlfriend.
- She steals money from her Boss and run away to Spanish Guinea.
- He lives in Spanish Guinea.
- He is very kind.
- He is also a superstitious man.
- He is one of the host of Toundi at Spanish Guinea. He hosts him with a help from his wife.
- He is a Catholic priest/padre.
- He lives in a missionary center.
- He is portrayed as an oppressor, exploiter who humiliates his people despite the fact that he is a religious man.
- He represents all leaders who are hypocrites, that is, who preach what they dont act.
- People like him are famously called those who preach water, but drink wine.
- He dies in a motorcycle accident and the other white men call him a martyr because he has died in foreign land.
- He is an assistant to Fr. Gilbert.
- He is also portrayed as a racist, exploiter and oppressor.
- He is also hypocrite like other white men and other leaders.
- When Fr. Gilbert dies, he takes his position.
- He becomes worse than Fr. Gilbert to Toundi.
- He introduces Toundi to Commandant and warn him about the boy by saying that he is lazy and should be punished and harassed as well.
GULLET (CHIEF OF THE POLICE)
- He is the white Chief of Police Force.
- He is harsh and very brutal to Africans.
- He often allows his police to torture even kill Africans innocently.
- He raids Toundis place twice and orders Toundi to be severly beaten when he is taken into jail.
MENDIM ME TIT
- He is assistant Dangan Police Chief.
- He comes from Gabon as a mercenary.
- He likes Toundi and helps him escape the jail.
MADAME SUZY. (Madame Deccazy)
- She is the Commandants wife. She is also beautiful.
- She has an extra marital affair with the Prison Director, M. Moreau.
- She seems to like the Commandant Residence employees, but later she changes the attitude towards them.
- She treats Toundi unfairly.
- He is a White man who is a Prison Director.
- He is portrayed as a cruel, very harsh, promiscuous, and oppressive man.
- He has bad morals. This is revealed when he begin an affair with Madame Suzy, Commandants wife.
- He hates Toundi because he thinks that he knows and has spread the information about his affair with Madame.
- He is the most handsome man in Dangan.
- He also makes love with his house girl, Sophie.
- He warns Toundi not to sleep with Sophie during the village trip.
- He a wealthy Greek man who owns the European club.
- He was saved from being eaten in equatorial forests by wild animals.
- He hates Africans so much that he let dogs at them tot away from th European club.
- He is an old cook of the Commandant. He has served him for about 30 years.
- He is portrayed as a very competent in his work of cooking even Madame congratulates him for keeping the kitchen well.
- He is the laundry man of Madame.
- He detects that Madame sleeps with Prison Director.
- He is a gentlemen who lives in the commandant residence
- He notices Prison Director leaving Commandants residence late in the evening.
- He is portrayed as lazy and likes sleeping all the time.
- She is Madame’s new chamber maid who used to live as a prostitute at the Coast.
- She arrives at Commandants Residence bare foot.
- She advises Toundi to leave the Commandants Residence because the commandant was planning to kill him.
Traditionally, language is the form of human communication in a certain community. It is also the media of communication between author and the audience. Generally, it is the way in which the writer uses words to create literature. It stems from choice of words, how these words are structured or arranged, and writer’s point of view to the application of figurative language.
In Houseboy, the author has applied the following elements of language:
USE OF OBSCENITIES
Obscene means offensive or disgusting by accepted standards of morality and decency. I think that Oyono uses obscenities in the novel to show particular aspects of both the African and the European culture that were disgusting that were hidden behind false promises like the French assimilation policy. By using obscenities in the novel the author Oyono strips them of this cover up and ridicules this disgusting part of both cultures in a satirical way in order to educate the reader to avoid making the same mistake. For example Toundi no longer fears the commandant because he is not circumcised. He seemed more naked than my fellow Africans who strips unconcerned and wash…It killed something in me…..I knew that I should never be frightened of the commandant again. Here Oyono has shown that the Europeans were not to be feared. They were no better if not worse off than the Europeans. This is ridiculing the Europeans in a humorous way. The readers also understand that the Africans have power which they seem to have suppressed simply because they ignorantly believe that the white man is superior without question.
The novel is full of obscenities due to the fact that the author wants to portray the extent to which the Europeans abused the locals. The fathers preaching obscenities signified that even the most pure people of this Earth were impure in the White society. Through the use of obscenities, the author demonstrated the behaviour of the Whites and he ridiculed the Whites through these obscenities. Toundi’s diary is full of obscenities for two reasons: one that the author wants to portray the extent to which the Europeans abused the locals and the second reason being that the author wanted to contrast the cultures. For instance, in the black society, being circumcised meant that the person was a man and this was the reason why Toundi lost his respect towards the Commandant. He talks about this when he says, “A great chief like the Commandant uncircumcised. He had seemed to me more naked than my fellow Africans who strip unconcerned and wash at the water channel in the market place…I should never be frightened of the Commandant again.”
Thus, it is apparent that Oyono used obscenities in order to bring out to light the impurities of the Whites and the contrast of culture between the Black and White societies.
FIGURES OF SPEECH
The author has as applied the following figures of speech:
The condom signfy the concealment of the whites immorality. they think doing immoral activities behind closed door makes people unaware of the happenings, the blacks somehow discover all the immoral activities by the whites, from sleeping around to uncircumcised and many more… Toundi is also a symbol of African representative. At one incident Kalisis tells Toundi, “At the Residence you are something like I dont know what to call it something like the representative of the rest of us.” Toundi here is referred by others as an eye of the community because people see the life at the European quarters through him.
The author has used a lot of images in the novel. He has shown images of destruction when Toundi’s residence is searched and vandalized. And even one African sergeant laments, poor Toundiand all of us. Another image is shown on page 60; “If I talk it is because I have a mouth. If I see, it is because I have eyes. The eye goes farther and faster than the mouth, nothing stops it…” On page 87, Toundi calls the cook; a gorilla approaching a tree.
The author satirises the evangelists that advocate Christianity that entice young children to their religion with lumps of sugar.
The perception of Europeans was also made clear from Toundi’s keen observation. “We see how each European tries to tell a ‘better’ story that shows how much the ‘African is a child or a fool’. They lamented ‘the Martyr’ as they called Father Gilbert because he died on African soil”. Page 53. “I am the cook. The white man does not see me except with his stomach.” Page 87. Also Toundi refers to himself as The dog of the king is the king of dogs, when mentioning what it feels to be Commandants boy on page 20. In page 81, Baklu, the laundry man refers to the white men as he says; “They are corpses. Do corpses feel shame?”. Sophie calls M. janopulous that old toad. Agricultural Engineer calls Sophie, My cabbage, my chicken. Madame refers to the African cook as an old baboon.
“Life, he says, is like the chameleon, changing colour all the time.” (36).
Other similes are: “Chief Akoma who chuckles like a hen. Like chickens who have sighted the shadow of a vulture“, this refers to the school children who disperse in panic. “His hair is like the beard on a maize cob.”, referring to Fr. Gilberts beard.
“The elephant does not rot in a secret place,
Sophie”, Page 41.
“The river does not go back to its spring.”
“Since when does the pot rub itself against the hammer?” Page 62.
“It is the voice of wisdom … outside his hole the mouse does not defy the cat”. Page 87.
“Our ancestors used to say you must escape when the water is still only up to the knees”.
The author has also used personification. For example, The branches of a willow tree weeping over the ape-like shadow of the dying mans head.
Theme is the main idea or ideas in a story. This is also a statement or the basic idea expressed by a work of literature. The theme develops from interplay of characters and plots. A theme may be broken up into several themes of ideas.
Every work of art has one theme which is expressed in one sentence or a short paragraph. This is called a main or dominant theme. However, this theme can be broken into various issues as result of actions of characters in the story.
The Houseboy’s dominant theme is the Hypocrisy and Segregation Policy of the French colonialists towards the Africans. However, the novel can be broken into the following issues/themes:
DESTRUCTION OF MORAL VALUES/IMMORALITY
The whites in the book are shown as not having any self-values and self-esteem. Oyono shows this cultural contrast when Madame says, “You don’t know? Contraceptives: contraceptives. Go on, tell everybody. What a subject for all the houseboys in Dangan to talk about. Go on. Get out.'” Through this we can see that even the usually hidden sexually relationship is being made public and Madame does not have any self-values when she lets Toundi know what the rubber bags” are.
In general, the major thread of the novel is the evil of imperialism or foreign administration and the exploitation of Africans by whites.
Like Meka in The Old Man and the Medal, Toundi watches the development of events with his eyes gradually opening to the realities of French imperialism.
The novel reflects Africans in Cameroon are under colonial domination. First, they were under German domination and later under French colonization in which Assimilation Policy was introduced.
The nature of most colonialists is to exploit the indigenous. The Cameroonians are also being exploited by the French colonialists. Toundi, his father, and other Africans are intensively exploited by the French colonialists. For example, Toundi wakes up early at 5 oclock daily and works until midnight but he is not paid and is badly fed.
The author shows that Africans are oppressed and dehumanized. They are tortured and treated like animals. For example, Fr. Gilbert kicks Toundi so often and strokes his ear as if he is a pet animal. All the blacks seem the same to the white men. Sophia says, We dont mean anything to them. All French Africans are assimilated and treated the same. This is the hypocrisy of the white French men.
The Africans are humiliated. Father Gilbert gives Toundi old clothes. That is the way he is to him; just a thing to dump used and old things to him. Toundi and other Africans are humiliated and treated by the white men with no respect of human dignity.
Father Gilbert and Father Vandermayer are the Catholic priests who preach water but drink wine. This means that they preach good things from the Holy Bible but what they do is different. They preach love and equality but they still treat Africans as the same and animals to them.
Worst of all, Christianity was their perfect weapon to indoctrinate Africans. The same Madam asked Toundi to start forming a family since they were paying him enough. He replied.
“Perhaps, Madame, but my wife and children will never be able to eat and dress like Madame or like white children”
“Oh dear, you are getting big ideas. You must be serious. Everyone has their position in life. You are a houseboy, my husband is Commandant… nothing can be done about it. You are a Christian, aren’t you”
Africans have been shown by the author as the people who observe their traditions. These are the social values and customs that are part of their experiences. The novelist has portrayed traditions like:
– Hospitality and Kindness;
– Traditional foods such as cassava, fish and porcupine;
– Village leadership like presence of Chief Akoma, the king of kings and Manguema in Dangan;
– Initiation ceremony as a qualification to adulthood;
– Extended family and other African traditions.
For example, Toundi lives with his sister and his brother-in-law. Toundi also is shown when he escapes to live Fr. Gilbert and leaves the initiation ceremony that is used to prepare the young people into adulthood. Toundi runs away from home on the eve of the initiation day when he should have met the famous serpent who watches over the men of my race, thus symbolically turning his back on the traditional life of his ancestors.
Instead of returning the child to his family, the white man accommodates him as some kind of Good Samaritan but in actual fact he is tearing him away from the bloodline of family relationships.
POSITION OF WOMAN
In this novel, the author has portrayed women in the following manners:
Housekeepers. Author has portrayed women in this novel as housekeepers. For example, Sophie is Agricultural Engineer’s house girl.
Caretaker of the family. In the novel, Toundi’s and Anton’s wife are portrayed as the mothers who take care of the family. They always make sure that the family is well fed and taken care of.
Kindness. Women have also been shown as kind people. In the novel, Anton is helped by his wife to host Toundi.
Infidelity in marriage. This is the condition of having an affair with another man or woman outside the marriage line. Madame Suzy has an extra marital affair with the Prison Director, M. Moreau.
Harshness. Some women in the novel have been labelled as harsh people because of what they do. For instance, Madame Suzy treats Toundi unfairly when she finds out the Toundi is the one who leaks information about her affair with M. Moreau.
Prostitution. The author of the book has also portrayed the issue of prostitution. For example, Kalisia, who is Madame’s new chamber maid, used to live as a prostitute at the Coast.
Counsellor. The women in this novel are shown as ones who advise people. For instance, Kalisia is the one who advises Toundi to leave the Commandant’s Residence because the commandant is planning to kill him.
The betrayal in this novel can be seen in two ways. First, French white men have betrayed Africans for treating them differently from what religious and human values should be. Secondly, some Africans also like Toundi and others who have been assimilated into French Africans have betrayed their fellow Africans and their African traditions.
Africans especially who become aware of the evils, hypocrisy and malpractice of white men, begin to protest against them. For example, Toundi who has become aware of their ignorance, begins to disrespect them and protest against what they believe and do.
TORTURE AND BRUTALITY
The Africans are tortured by the French colonialists. Africans are whipped by the whites. For example Father Vandermayer who derives pleasure from whipping the black Christians while they are naked.
The French white men abuses Africans because of their color or because they are Africans. When the novel first introduces Father Vandermayer we are told that He loves to beat the Christians who have committed adultery native Christians of course.He makes them undress in his office (page 15) From this quote we can note that, the priest is firstly beating instead of forgiving, and secondly he is being racist by only beating the natives that commit adultery.
White Frenchmen are hypocrites.
“It was terrible. I thought of all the priests, all the pastors, all the white men, who came to save our souls and preach love of our neighbours. Is the white man’s neighbour only the white men? Who can go on believing the stuff we are served up in the churches when things happen like I saw today…”
White men are irresponsible of moral values. They also represent African leaders who are irresponsible for preaching the things they do not do.
INFIDELITY IN MARRIAGE
This is also common in the novel. The author shows that people do not respect their marriage. For example, Commandants wife makes love with M. Moreau when her husband is on tour.
Most Africans are portrayed as unaware of the hypocrisy of the white men. They are treated the same and like animals but they fail to realize at first. However, some Africans like Toundi becomes aware after realizing the evils and hypocrisy of the white men.
WHITE MEN’S TRUE IDENTITY
The author’s portrayal of Toundi’s naive reactions towards the obscenities spoken by the whites is used to show the perception towards the whites by the blacks. Churchmen are supposed to be suave and serene, however when they speak Ndjem while giving sermons, they sound obscene. This is used to show that however highly Toundi thinks of the whites, they will still be the ignorant whites who colonized Africa and made blacks their slaves. If this is the main message of the author, then why has he made the persona such that the persona has no negative attitude towards his colonials? This is so, because Oyono wanted to give the reason why the blacks were easily deceived and colonized; the fact that they believed that they were inferior and tried to be like the whites or as close as possible, “I am now the dog of the king”.
Furthermore, these naive reactions can be contrasted to the “insulting” obscenities spoken by toundi’s father, “you can take your mother to bed.”
This obscenity truly insult Toundi and he replies back saying that he can’t do such a thing. When this is compared to the shouts he got from the Commandant for being careless, we realize that the reactions are contrasting each other. For the latter, the reaction is just accepting the fact that one cannot argue back with a white master (however, you can with your real father).
The sexual innuendos are used to further ridicule the whites by satirizing their lustful nature. This degrades their superior nature and shows that anyone can reach the level of a dog, including the whites, and the blacks can climb the power hierarchy.
Africans are disillusioned or disappointed with the unfaithfulness and false promises. In the novel, The Commandants wife brings out the unfaithful nature of the Europeans, on the other hand. Her sexual relations with Mr. Morreau and her infidelity, gives the reader the impression that the Europeans are generally not trustworthy. They are not faithful to their own people, so why would they be faithful to the natives. This reflects what truly occurred during the colonial period in Cameroon because the French Assimilation Policy was nothing but a sham, the poor Cameroonians were deceived, due to their naivety, into believing that they would be treated as equals regardless of their colonization, and clearly the novel shows that the Frenchmen made false-promises.
Conflict in this novel happens when character disagrees on something just as in other literary works. In this novel, the following conflicts can be seen:
- Toundi vs His Father.
- Toundi vs Fr. Gilbert.
- Toundi vs Fr. Vandermeyer.
- Toundi vs Madame Suzy.
- Toundi vs Commandant.
- Toundi vs M. Moreau.
- Toundi vs Gullet, Police Chief.
- Toundi vs Agricultural Engineer.
- Toundi vs himself.
- Madame Suzy vs Commandant.
- Commandant vs M. Moreau.
- Africultural Engineer vs Sophie.
The novel portrays the hypocrisy of French colonialists during the period they introduced Assimilation policy in their African colonies like Cameroon. The novel is an example of how modern leaders are hypocritical because they do not practice what they preach about.
The novel teaches us that hypocrisy is not good. It is better to practice sincerity. The novel also teaches the modern leaders in our societies that they should practice what they say through actions, not only through words of their mouths.
The belief and the viewpoint of the writer is that he believes that a good society can exist only if everyone practices sincerity and avoid any kind of segregation. The author also believes that leaders can be popular if they practice what they say and meet the demands of the common people.
RELEVANCE OF THE NOVEL
The novel is relevant to the society we live. There are leaders in our society who fail to set good examples for young generation to copy. These leaders are like the characters in the novel whom despite their high social status they still behave irresponsibly to the people they lead. Young people like Toundi should learn from elders like Fr. Gilbert , Fr. Vandemayer, and Commandant but these people are the ones who lead them into evils. The novel is also relevant to the society that entertain racism.