Chris Abani’s novel, GraceLand begins by introducing us to the kola nut and its importance, “The Igbo hold the kola nut to be sacred, offering it at every gathering and to every visitor, as a blessing, as ref […]
I agree with when you say “Apparently, you can’t even escape this annoyance in the slums of Nigeria.” Because it’s true, this is a story about Nigeria so no matter what is looked at we will be reminded of it. I also believe that the author does this purposely to connect Elvis more to his roots rather than pushing him away from it. I don’t think that Elvis is becoming “materialistic”, I feel more as if he is definitely following his roots. He shows that he admires Elvis Presley where it says “His fascination with movies and Elvis Presley aside, he wasn’t really sure he liked America. Now that the people he cared about were going there, he felt more ambivalent than ever.” (56) However, just because he is fascinated by Elvis Presley, he still doesn’t want anything to do with America or a new tradition instead he feels uncertain knowing that his people were going there.
Ah I see what you did there with your title. I like that. When I read the novel, I didn’t think it would have any undertones relating to religion. In fact I couldn’t make an assumption on what this novel would be about at all from just reading the blurb. I honestly thought it would just be a story about the culture in Nigeria, but this story kind of reminds me of “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. The culture that is strong and then it is being taken over by the white man and the culture is lost. It’s a stretch, but it reminds me of it. The way I see the spiritual tones playing out is that the characters will come to understand themselves on an emotional level through the help of spirituality.
This point that you make in your first paragraph where you say, “-describing the writing as a “psalm” turns the journal into a kind of holy book for Elvis”. You hit the nail on the head; this is his “holy book”. As a religious person has a certain attachment to their bible, he has an attachment to this journal. Which I love that you connected the writing in the journal with your title.
“In one such flashback Oye tells young Elvis how the wild trees in their village are the result of criminals being killed by driving flowering stakes through their skulls.-” There should be a comma here, not really sure where, sorry.
I see what you mean by the novel pointing towards religion as being an aide to the main character’s life. It’s definitely prominent in the way that his best friend is Redemption. It’s as though it is another chance for this character.
Great close reading and digging for the connections to religion.
This New York Times review by Anita Gates, takes a look at a Hartfort, Connecticut production of A Raisin in the Sun from 2004. The review makes mention of Sidney Poitier in the role of Walter in both the ori […]
Kelley presents a very optimistic view of how social change can and should occur, a view he recognizes is not shared by all, “I did not write this book for those traditional leftists who have traded in their […]
To answer your first question, I do think that young people are fighting against ideas. In regards to politics, there are many “ideas” that have been already created, whether they are morally right or wrong. Young people of this generation are fighting for these ideas to be not in affect. Going back to your post I definitely agree with you when you say, “it seems we must fight against wrongs we see being committed”. Some of the same issues that people were fighting about 50 years ago, seems like we still have to fight for today.
Although I found the preface and first chapter to be really well written at times it I found myself drifting because it tended to get overly wordy, or Kelly’s points lingered on when it could’ve been condensed. Regardless the message was still poignant in that the overall reminder of todays political and intellectual landscape and the lack of real assertion by younger peoples to create the type of social movement that pulls on the heart strings on humanity. I perceived his writing and message firstly of interiority, to look inward at myself and ask of myself the same questions and concerns he prosed. I felt challenged when to really analyze, when Kelly and in your blog asked “What are today’s young activist dreaming about? We know what they are fighting against, but what are they fighting for?” (Kelly, pg 7-8). Then he continued his thoughts when also asking why the youth like to differentiate activism with intellectual work and why there can not be or why there is a lack of cohesion between the ideals that encompasses both groups. Again, I thought to myself I’ve definitely been apart of both groups in terms of constantly having an inward battle in trying to figure out the appropriate channels to implement real change. School, or real world experiences? Does it have to either or? Can it be both? Anyway when you ask are young people fighting against or for ideas, I think its best to define what those ideas are. I know as a young(er) person I am appalled by the current political climate, political parties (both left and right) and the constant necessary dialogue of issues of race and identity. Kelly speaks of self transformation/actualization and references Askia M. Toure’s ideology, an idea I most definitely fight for “changing the way we think, live, love and handle pain…” (Kelly, pg. 11). I also appreciate Kelly’s attitude in “calling out” the liberal left, as not so “liberal” and I agree with his sentiments whole heatedly. As liberals (and I feel this mostly with the older generation) they are stuck in the past, what was radical thinking then has evolved into more complex issues and their positions haven’t changed and their ideals are rooted in their experiences from twenty or thirty years ago instead of whats happening now. They are capitalist (to a fault) and are just as materialistic as conservatives and out of touch when it comes to implementing the kind of change necessary to uplift and enlighten a generation that feels abandoned and underserved.
Pushing back, keeping clear, and fighting against ideas seems to be the norm of the world today-that is, the land in which we are currently occupying. Although speaking for the masses may feel a bit unnatural and awkward I am merely voicing one opinion. When considering Kelly’s banishment of the “traditional leftists”, I cannot help but come to the conclusion that this act will force-as you stated-a new form of division. But perhaps this was done intentionally, to grab a readers attention and guide that reader to a different vantage point and see themselves in a new light. But as far as change goes, I see no change in the near or distant future. I guess that I can place myself within the “hopeless” bunch. I wish that I envisioned it differently-perhaps some day I will-but the utopian ideal is an ideal that stands-to me, at least for now-as the unattainable.