During the period of Modernism, many authors often use literature to explore the transformations in culture, belief, lifestyle and human experience to the readers. In the story, “Chick’s School Days” written by Chinua Achebe, tells us the background of an African Child’s family in the beginning. This is where the author explores the first transformation about the traditional belief of an African family. The father, Amos insists to marry a woman Osu, who was considered to be the lowest caste in the Igbo class system. According to the passage “In the past an Osu could not raise his shaggy head in the presence of the free-born. He was a slave…to be despised and almost spat on” (828) we see how low the African society valued Osu as a slave. Amos’s mother is a character representing this traditional belief, who strongly opposes their marriage as it would degrade her son. But Chike’s father influenced by the Christian, Mr. Brown, and transformed into a more modernistic person, who doesn’t care about the caste and willing to marry her. Similarly in today’s modern society, people don’t really care about spouse’s last name as a factor of marriage.
Another transformation happens to Chike, as a child of a family of five daughters “Chike was brought up in the ways of the while man, which meant to opposite of traditional” (827). Since he got raised differently than the other traditional African kid, he refuses to eat heathen food. Chike was not even fluent in English but he is sent to a Christian school to receive Christian education. The teacher, environment and school greatly influence him in the interest of acquiring the new language. “He liked particularly the sound of English words, even when they conveyed no meaning at all” (830) this detail shows how much he loves English. Therefore, he is not a close-minded African child, he has transformed into an open-minded child who is willing to learn and sing.
The theme transformation also shows up in many other readings that we’ve read in the class. For examples, Lu Xun, “Diary of a Madman”, the madman was surrounded and raised in a feudal society, where he was able to transform himself into a moral person and differs than the cannibalism around him. The period of Enlightenment is also a transformation in human knowledge, it transforms a person from being ignorant and lack of reason to an intellectual and rational person.
Can you relate the theme transformation to any other readings that we have read?