The Use of satirical techniques in Ferdinand Oyono's novels: 'House boy' and 'The old man an the medal'
This study investigates the use of satire in Ferdinand Oyono's novels: Houseboy and The Old Man and the Medal. It is enhanced through the author's social vision, themes and character portrayal. The objective of the research is to appreciate the author's use of satirical techniques to depict the plight of characters in a colonial situation. Both the oppressor and the oppressed are active participants in this dualism. Ferdinand Oyono emerges as a socially responsive writer who responds to the colonial discourse which has made Cameroon to be referred to as a post colonial state just like most third world countries. His concern is over a society ridiculed by the encounter between Africa and Europe, which spelt disaster for the Africans. The encounter necessitated the circumstances under which the western world crossed the African historical path. The hypothesis of the study will therefore, be to investigate colonialism as an intrusion, a dual activity in which both the colonizer and the colonized were willing participants. This resulted in a change in the realities of African life, and hence the need for decolonization. Since Oyono's fiction is concerned with anti-colonial discourse, postcolonial theory will be relevant in our interrogation of colonialism in Cameroon. Colonial and postcolonial eras have had a strong impact on the African experience which has not only been felt physically, but also psychologically. Alongside postcolonial theoretical approach, the study wishes to use stylistics literary criticism. This theoretical approach will be useful in investigating Oyono' s use of satire as a literary technique. He uses satire to create consciousness in the Africans and thereby awaken the French towards the realization that an African will always be an African and no amount of assimilation will succeed in absorbing him into the world of the other: the world of the French. It is worth noting that Oyono has written three novels: Houseboy, The Old Man and The Medal and Road to Euro. They are all satirical. However, Houseboy and The Old Man and The Medal have something in common in that they are both set in Africa against the background of the French assimilation policy whose purpose was to integrate the Africans into the French World. The policy, nevertheless, proved futile. The novels also share the same style of expression: satire. However, it is worth noting that in Houseboy, Oyono employs laughter, the tragic laughter of satire, more articulately than in The Old Man and The Medal where laughter is a little bit camouflaged. The laughter in The Old Man and The Medal is a bit subtle. In spite of the manner in which satire has been employed in both novels, Oyono has used satire with exemplary success. It is in this regard therefore, that the project seeks to identify and evaluate the satirical techniques used in the novels to create foibles for both the oppressor and the oppressed. Oyono uses satire to give us an insight into the complexities and relationships as well as giving depth to the colonial realities in his works. He achieves this by ridiculing colonialism and thereby giving us an insight into the psychology of his characters. He exploits satiric style to consciously and successfully present colonial milieu forcefully, artistically and imaginatively. Colonialism in Cameroon is depicted as being synonymous with brutalization, oppression, exploitation and dehumanization. The study appreciates satire as a style that is appropriate to the study of Oyono's novels since he has executed satire in a manner that gives his works that special quality: humour. Underlying this humour, there is a serious message about the evils of colonialism. Through satire, he successfully detaches the works from his emotional and ideological self. In so doing, Oyono reconstructs the collective colonial experience of his people using a carefully selected style, satire, to entertain, instruct and to move the readers.
University of Nairobi, CEES, Kenya
SubjectCriticism and interpretation
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