THEMES IN “FACELESS ” BY INSTRUCTOR TOLU AKINTADE.
1. CHILD ABUSE This is a crime of harming a child, physically, sexually or emotionally. The first instance of child abuse in the novel is Poison’s attempted rape of Fofo. Fofo, a fourteen-year old girl, decides to sleep in an open shade at Agbogbloshie Market in order to wake up early for her job of washing carrots. Poison tries to rape her there. Another manifestations of child abuse is what Nii Kpakpo and Onko do to Baby. Nii Kpakpo fondles Baby’s private parts while Onko rapes her.When Fofo catches her stepfather fondling Baby T, she confides in Onko. Onko takes advantage of what Nii Kpakpo does to Baby and rapes the girl. To cap it all, child abuse lays the foundation for the tragedy in the novel. It is child abuse that lays the foundation for the death of Baby T. As we can see, the rape of Baby by Onko makes her mother to send her to Mama Abidjan; from Mama Abidjan to another madame, Maami Broni. It is in Maami Broni’s hand that Baby becomes a prostitute. Baby falls into a wicked hand of Poison who becomes her pimp. Baby T’s child abuse ends in death. When Baby refuses to sleep with Onko, Poison becomes furious. Baby finally dies from the merciless beating she receives from Poison. Also, child abuse makes Poison become a bully and an aggressive person. Through flashback, we are told that Poison used to live in one room with his stepfather, mother and five siblings. Poison suffers torture in his stepfather’s hands; the man is constantly beating him. When the torture becomes unbearable for Poison, he runs away from home at eight years. He becomes a street boy, surviving in the street. He grows up to become a street lord and villain.
2. POVERTY. Poverty is the state of being poor. Poverty is portrayed in the novel using Maa Tsuru. Maa Tsuru and her children suffer poverty. This poverty is as a result of the abandonment she suffers from her two successive husbands.Through flashback, we get to know how Maa Tsuru’s first husband, Kwei, abandons her after fathering four children with her. He runs away because he superstitiously believes that Maa Tsuru’s generational curse is responsible for his woes. Another man, Nii Kpakpo deceives her, comes into her life, fathers two children with her and abandons her. Besides, we see Maa Tsuru’s poverty level in the accommodation she lives in. We see that when Nii Kpakpo deceives her, she brings him into her one room. Therefore, Maa Tsuru, her six children and Nii are now overcrowded in one room. The inconvenience of this overcrowding makes Maa Tsuru’s two teen sons to leave home; to survive in the street. It equally makes Baby and Fofo to leave home.
Moreover, it poverty that makes other children to see the street as a means of survival. In the novel, we see them in Sodom and Gomorrah; others run errands at Agbogbloshie; etc. Those children are there because of poverty. In conclusion, poverty plays significant role in the development of the novel. For instance, it is poverty that makes people live in the slum of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is also poverty that leads to the suffering of Fofo and her siblings. It is this poverty that leads to Baby T’s death.
3. GENERATIONAL GAP. Generational gap is the difference in attitude or behaviour between younger and older people; such difference causes misunderstanding between them. Generational gap exists between Kabria and her children. Kabria represents the older generation while her children represent the younger generation. For instance, in Kabria’s time, sex is not discussed among children. The parents see that as a taboo. However, Kabria is surprised to see her first daughter, Obea, with a pamphlet discussing sex education. This generational gap is also seen in the entertainment industry. Kabria’s children are surprised because their mother does not know about Lord Kenya, the King of hip life. In Kabria’s time, they know about Rolling Stones, The Beetles, etc. Moreover, Naa Yomo, through attitude towards the street child phenomenon, shows generational gap. She explains that in her time, parents don’t send children to the street; they try to feed and take care of them no matter how they are poor . In conclusion, generational gap plays a significant role in the development of the novel. It brings about contrast between those characters concerned.
4. ABANDONMENT. Abandonment is an act of leaving somebody with no intention of returning to them. We see abandonment first in the novel when Maa Tsuru’s father abandons her mother. Maa Tsuru’s mother suffers gestation and parturition alone. But before she dies, she curses Maa Tsuru’s generations. Besides, we see Maa Tsuru’s own abandonment. Her two successive husbands (Kwei and Nii Kpakpo) abandon her. The two men superstitiously believe that Maa Tsuru is under a curse. Moreover, fathers and mothers abandon their children in the novel. Those children are forced to survive on the streets. For instance, after Kwei abandons her, Maa Tsuru’s four children join the street as a means of survival from hunger. Her two boys first leave; she has to send Baby T
into prostitution; Fofo leaves when home is no longer safe for with her stepfather, Nii Kpakpo, around. In conclusion, abandonment lays the foundation of the tragedy in the novel. It is the abandonment of Maa Tsuru’s mother by her father that brings about the curse; Maa Tsuru’s mother curses her father’s generations. Hence the curse follows her. It is this curse that leads to Maa Tsuru’s marital misfortunes. Hence her children take to the street. Baby T dies in the street. Fofo suffers psychological defeat in the street; the whereabouts of the two boys are unknown.
5. SUPERSTITION. Superstitions are shared irrational beliefs that govern a people. Those beliefs are not verifiable by science or universal truth; the people use them to explain some occurrences. In the novel, people believe that the time of a person’s birth can influence their behavior. Hence, Kabria thinks that Essie is extravagant because she is born at midnight. To nullify this jinx such children have to undergo a ritual of touching their feet three times for three days after their birth. Essie, Kabria’s second child, was born at midnight night but Kabria ignores the superstition. However, as Essie begins to grow up with her unceasing demand of money, Kabria begins to think that the superstition is connected to this. Also, the people believe that people can suffer out of generational curse. In the novel, everybody believes that Maa Tsuru’s misfortunes are as a result of a curse which her late mother places on her father’s generation. Through Naa Yomo, we get to know that MaaTsuru’s father impregnated her mother and abandons her; during labour this woman curses the man’s generation and dies after giving birth to Maa Tsuru. Besides, the people superstitiously believe that when persons don’t die natural death, they are rejected by both God and the devil. As they don’t have money to bribe their way into God’s kingdom or the devil’s, their spirits continue to hover among the living. Some people express this view in the wake of Baby T’s death. Also, during Onko’s suicide, his senior apprentice expresses the same view. In conclusion, superstitious beliefs play significant role in the development of the plot. For instance, everybody believes that Maa Tsuru is suffering because of the generational curse which her late mother has placed on her father’s generation. It is superstition that leads to Baby’s tragic death. This is because Onko believes that his economic woe is as a result of his incest with a cursed child, Baby T. His attempt to appease the gods leads to Poison who beats Baby mercilessly thereby killing her.
In conclusion, the above themes are in line with function of literature as a mirror of society. The novelist captures those themes to reflect things happening in her society.
THEMES IN “FACELESS ” BY ARMAH DARKO.
THEMES IN “FACELESS ” BY INSTRUCTOR TOLU AKINTADE.