Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Oral Tradition in Things Fall Apart and Beloved

We all know that oral tradition was extremely important to many cultures, such as the Greek, Roman, Native American, and African cultures. Oral tradition was a means of passing down a message from generation to generation and keeping the history of the culture and the people alive. Both Things Fall Apart and Beloved portray the importance of oral tradition. In Things Fall Apart proverbs are very important to the culture. These proverbs, much like Aesop's Fables, carry a message throughout the community. Mothers tel their children the stories and then the children eventually tell their children the stories. In this way, the history is passed on. In Beloved the oral tradition is in the form of songs. Sethe sings songs to her children, and when looked at closely, these songs carry a lot of meaning. One of these songs is even the reason that Sethe realizes Beloved is the reincarnation of her dead daughter. In both novels, oral tradition is an important part of society, carrying messages and history down the familial line.

4 comments:

Cassidy George said...

I agree that you can see the transgression of the significance of story telling in both cultures. It's amazing to think that any knowledge a slave in American gleaned about their history was passed on by oral tradition. This oral tradition was also extremely important in what little sense of identity slaves maintained during their lifetimes. Without the stories about Africa and their relatives before them, no slave would have any idea about who they are or where they came from, concepts that we consider the most basic and pivotal aspects of our concept of self.

Austin Falk said...
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Austin Falk said...

Oral traditions such as songs also played a huge role in slaves successful escape from slavery through the Underground Railroad. From Mrs. Quinet's powerpoint presentation, we learned that songs such as Swing Low Sweet Chariot and Wade in the Water gave slaves hope as they sang about a dreamed escape. The slaves used songs for many different aspects of life to get them through hard times. They sang about their morals, values, and their dream of one day escaping and being free in the North.

Linz A said...

I think oral tradition is a huge part of any culture, not just the Igbo. The progression of Oral tradition throughout history is fascinating. Since you have Grimm's fairytales which are written down version of oral fairytales, but if you look at other parts of the world, you have overlapping stories with similar stories. It is interesting to see the use to oral tradition in the two book side by side. Oral tradition tends to change with circumstances (EX: fairytale endings change with society's opinions). So the Igbo oral tradition changes as the people move from their African society to the position as slaves, so the oral tradition changes from sayings to songs. The songs fulfilled a message or meaning that related to slavery. So while the oral traditional of the Igbo people remained, necessity of circumstances required a different form of oral communication. If that makes sense. Or maybe not.