Place is a simple term as pronounced and written. However, it can never be overlooked in any artwork because it carries a lot of meaning. The writer informs readers what he/she thinks is right based on the place.
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It starts with having an experience of a certain place and observing it carefully. Just as the writer, the reader cannot be left behind when the topic is brought on board. Any writer aims at influencing the reader to accept his/her ideas.
The place therefore defines clearly the setting of the artwork. It enables the reader to have a better understanding because there can be a direct relationship between the written material and the place.
When well considered, place improves the quality of written work as it enables the writer to bring out characters and themes clearly. This mesmerizes readers since it evokes their feelings. The novel coming to Birth by Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye can exemplify this.
The novel revolves around Paullina Okello as the main character. She appears in different places that clearly shows her character. The novel starts by showing the relationship between Paullina and her husband Martin Were.
The setting is in Kenya as the names Okello and Weri suggest. In the novel, the writer shows that place shapes the life of an individual. Paullina visits Nairobi, which is a different place with different characters.
The urban setting is completely different from the rural setting because Paullina does not have a good understanding the place (Oludhe 34). Through place, the writer portrays Paullina as naïve since she could not behave according to the expectations of the city.
Paullina could run away from vehicles because she was not used to busy and congested places. The setting shows Martin as a caring husband because he had to go by foot to pick his wife from the bus station.
Martin lives in a slum area where human conditions are appalling. The place portrays the social class of martin. The reader is tempted to sympathize with Martin because of the tribulations he faces.
Rooms are described to be too small and congested and the toilets are very messy, which brings out the theme of poverty. Place becomes very important because it discloses other tenets of human live.
Paullina cannot withstand the environment that ends up causing health complications resulting to a miscarriage. The situation brings out Martin’s violent character after beating up his wife ruthlessly.
This leaves the reader wondering whether it was Paullina to blame or Martin. Furthermore, the reader can attribute Martin’s violent behavior to the place. Slum dwellers are known to be violent and ruthless.
This is because of hard life experienced in slums. Paullina can tolerate Martin’s bad behavior because she is used to cultural norms.
Marjorie tries to capture the feelings of the reader by describing the awful condition in which this couple lives, if one would actually have any help to offer, he or she would do it without hesitation.
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As time goes, Paullina starts attending classes where she finds a different class of people. The environment challenges her to an extent of wanting to know how to read and write, of which she manages with time.
This marks an outstanding turning point in her life. With education, she becomes a respected woman. She becomes very assertive to demand divorce from Martin.
A woman who could not feed herself becomes well up to a point of being a breadwinner in her family as well as Martins family in the upcountry. This clearly brings out the theme of change. She actually decides to leaves her to Mr. and Mrs. M in the modern estate.
Mrs. M is more learned compared to Paullina because she is a nurse and her husband is a Member of Parliament. Mr. M has cash that he uses during campaigns to earn votes from citizens.
The writer uses place to bring out the theme of contrast. This comes out when the life of Mr. M is compared to that of Martin and Paullina. Martin could not afford even his own fare when he went to pick Paullina at the bus station.
Mr. M can feed a whole congregation. In this environment, Paullina is portrayed as someone who knows politics. She could encourage women to fight for their rights.
Marjorie tries to bring out the theme of politics and the subject of corruption. She elucidates that politics and corruption are tied in the third world.Mr. M responds to the wishes of citizens during campaigns but immediately forgets their interests after he is elected. He is no longer there for citizens because he is in power.
Marjorie uses different places to bring out her reasoning. Marjorie uses place to show how events change with time. The novel starts by depicting the lives of Africans during colonial period and moves on sequentially to the postcolonial era.
At the start, we see how the colonial regime erected curfews that restricted people from moving at night. This was witnessed mostly in towns, especially in slum areas.
Place brings out the theme of fear and insecurity. The small group that is allowed to move at night has to speak loudly so that police officers may hear what they say. Operational anvil that denies people their freedoms characterizes the period.
Oludhe, Marjorie. Coming to Birth: Women writing Africa series. Nairobi: Feminist Press, 2000.