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Close-Reading Xala - Essay Example

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“Xala” is an intriguing short story written by Ousmane Sembene. The author utilizes the story and the characters to reveal the happenings in Africa after the end of the French colonization…
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Close-Reading Xala
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Sembene has used his life to reveal the period of transition in Africa shedding light upon the corruption and greed that persisted in the African society. The story commences from the success of El Hadji and ends at the note where he is humiliated owing to his own acts and wrongdoings. El Hadji lived a life of pride and attained financial successes even through wrong means to fulfill his greed. He lived a lavish life and had two wives named Adja Awa Astou and Oumi N’Doye respectively. But he decided to marry a third woman, N'Gone and this was a matter of pride for him as he believed this symbolized his manhood and his capability of fulfilling the demands of three wives both physically and financially. His first two wives are not very happy with this decision but to uphold the African traditions of submissiveness for women, they obey his command and attend his wedding ceremony. El Hadji is very happy with his marriage but his marriage proves to be the commencement of his downfall. He is unable to consummate his marriage owing to the loss of potency on the first of his marriage. On the path of attaining the cure for his problem, he loses his wealth and he is deserted by his wives as well except for Awa. He is looked down upon by his colleagues who also leave him and continue with their financial projects. It is later that El Hadji finds out that he lost his potency owing to “xala” which was a curse of impotency that was spelled on him by a beggar as he had been unfair and had unjustly taken over the piece of land of the beggar. The only way that remained for him to regain his manhood was by taking off his clothes and by being spit by all the beggars. The author has interwoven the happenings in the life of El Hadji to reflect upon the wrongdoings in the African society. El Hadjis first wife is a traditional African woman who sticks by him till the end. She is submissive and follows the commands of her husband. Her character reveals the strength of an African woman who is patient and loyal. She converses with her husband in Wolof revealing that she wills to uphold the tradition of the African society. Their daughter Rama is used by the writer to portray the new generation of Africa who knew that they had fought their way out of colonialism and had to work towards upholding their culture and traditions. She was a strong character who argued with his father against his wrongdoings and atrocities. She also talked with her father in Wolof and did not wish to utilize the French traditions and products until and unless needed. It is seen that despite of her disapproval for her father’s acts, she still loved her father which is revealed when she stands by him and converses with the police officer when the beggars at their house for the ritual of spitting El Hadji for regaining his manhood. She also cries on seeing her father being disgraced. Africa was in a transitional phase and Oumi who is El Hadji’s second wife symbolizes as a character that is stuck between the French and the African traditions. Oumi is not patient and devoted like Awa. She highly disapproves of El Hadji’s third marriage. She was not completely over the French period of colonialism and preferred using their language and dressing. She adopted a more western style and her character denoted the existence of the French remnants in the African society. Oumi is materialistic and leaves El Hadji during his period of downfall and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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