Table of Content
Statement of Problem
Objective of the Study
A Comparative Analysis of the Stylistic Features
Summary and Conclusion
Stylistics, a combination of style and literature is a discipline which has been approached in different ways by different scholars both in linguistic studies and literary studies; it is a borderline discipline between linguistics and literature thus its definition varies based on the theory adopted. For better understanding, there is the need to explain what style is before defining the term stylistics.
Style is got from the Latin word “Stilus” which means “a pointed instrument for writing on waxed tablets and has, in modern times, been associated with a way or manner of writing or speaking” (Otagburuagu et al 35). Style has also been defined as the description and analysis of the variability forms of linguistic items in actual language use. It is the manner or mode of expressing one’s thought in language. A creative artist expresses his feeling, thought, ideas and vision through language and his unique way of using language to convey his feelings is what is called style (E.J. Otagburuagu et al 2014:35). Leech and Michael in E.J. Otagburuagu et al 2014 define style as “the linguistic characteristics of a particular text”. According to Otagburuagu et al, Katie in her book, A Dictionary of Stylistics (1989) classifies style into the following: style as personal idiosyncrasy, style as a technique of expression and style as the highest achievement of literature.
Stylistics has been defined as a study of the different styles that are present in either a given utterance or a written text or document. Stylistics is derived from the word style and it concerns itself with the study of the techniques and manner in which people express their thought both in speech and writing. Stylistics deals with a wide range of language varieties and styles that that are possible in creating different texts, whether spoken or written, monologue or dialogue, formal or informal, scientific or religious etc. Stylistics unlike pragmatics that focuses on the “what” of a text, concerns itself with the “how” and “why” of a text. Leech, in line with this, defined stylistics as “a linguistic approach to literature; explaining the relation between language and artistic functions with motivating questions such as why and how more than what.”
This study aims at carrying out a stylistic analysis of selected short stories from Achebe’s Girls at War and other Stories, selecting three short stories from the collection: “The Madman”, Civil Peace” and “Girls at War” with the focus on the use of language used by the author and the narrative techniques in the stories. This research will also delve into a comparative analysis of the stylistic features identified in the stories with the aim of establishing the dominant style that runs through these works and as part of the identity of the author – style as the man.
Statement of Problem
The field of stylistics has received a lot of attention both in the literary and linguistic aspects of investigation when it comes to literary texts. Satia (2000) did a stylistic analysis of the manipulative language of Achebe’s Girls at War and other Stories, another researcher also wrote on the unfurling African Issuesand Experiencesin Achebe’s Girls at War and other Stories, Kanu (2011) did a research on the stylistic analysis of ChimamandaAdichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, Osogu (2011) did a stylistic study of Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus and Beti’s The Poor Christ of Bomba, Ukwungwu (2012) did a research on the stylistic analysis of selected poems by Soyinka, Moyse-Udoh (2012) did a research on the stylistic analysis of the language of religious posters. Having gone through these researches carried out by scholars before the current research, it is observed that only few researchers have done something on Achebe’s Girls at War and Other Stories and their focus has been on analyzing all the short stories as relating to the issues discussed by Achebe in his novels such issues as having to do with the colonial period as well as the Nigerian civil war; others explore the literary and linguistic features of the language and structure of Achebe’s Girls at War and other Stories. More so, other researchers in the field of stylistics concentrated on other literary texts such as novels, poems, posters and sermons.
Furthermore, from the observation above, it is clear that Achebe’s Girls at War and other Stories has received little attention from scholars and nothing has been done to the part which is research will delve into: the selection of three short stories: “The Madman”, Civil Peace” and “Girls at War” with the aim of comparatively studying the stylistic features embedded in the work such as the author’s use of figures of speech and narrative technique in order to establish the dominant style that runs through these works and as part of the identity of the author – style as the man.
Objective of the Study
- To investigate the author’s use of language in these short stories.
- To comparatively study the stylistic features embedded in the three selected short stories.
- To probe and the narrative techniques employed in the short stories
- To investigate style as pertaining to the author
An article entitled Girls at War and Other Stories: Unfurling African Issues and Experiences is a rundown on all the stories in the collection one after the other starting from Girls at War and other stories the first short story: The Madman. Other works by Achebe, especially his novels. The researcher compares ‘The Madman’ to ‘Things Fall Apart’ in terms of the heroes in the stories: Nwibe and Okonkwo stating that they share a lot in common. The Researcher opinionated that in all the stories, in this collection every short stories put together echoes other works of Achebe in terms of its stylistic features and the focus on colonialism culture contact and culture conflict. The researcher also posits that three stories in the collection deal with the issue of Nigerian Civil War and its aftermath; ‘Girls At War’, ’Civil Peace’, ‘Sugar Baby’: all the stories have a fable-like structure with a profound moral tagged on the novel; the use of pidgin by robbers in the story ‘Civil Peace’ to reflect the state of theory as not changing even after the war; people who have been relegated to the background of society are at the end given the opportunity to speak and this raises hope in all his works, showing that a better Africa would emerge someday. The researcher also added that these short stories present a kaleidoscopic view of the Nigerian way of life the predicament to which it has been exposed and the challenges that lie ahead to forge a new nation. The researcher also pointed out that all the stories have witty sayings, irony, satire, proverbs, idioms and metaphors.
The researcher in this study carried out a general overview of the works in the collection of short stories but focused more on three ‘Civil Peace’, ‘Sugar Baby’, ‘Girls at War’ all have the same stylistic features, figurative expressions but fails to identify them in the study. This work is different from the current research in that it is focused on giving an overview of the short stories on the basis of its Unfurling African Issues and Experiences as well as comparing these short stories to other works of Achebe, especially his novels. The current study aims at carrying out a comparative analysis of only three short stories in the collection ‘Civil Peace’, ‘Girls at War’ and ‘The Madman’ with focus on their use of language by the author and narrative techniques in the stories.Satia (2000) did a study on Achebe’s Manipulation of the English Language: A Stylistic Study of Girls at War and Other Stories. The researcher carried out a linguistic stylistic analysis of Achebe’s ‘Girls at War’ and other stories with major focus on the use of language within the theoretical frame work stipulated by Leech (1969) and Leech and Short’s (1981).The objective of the study is to show the strategies used by Achebe in manipulating the English Language in order to express the African experience as well as the reason for those strategies. The theory, according to the researcher encompasses both the literary and linguistic stylistic approach but focuses more on the linguistic aspect. The frame work has four levels of analysis; realization, form, semantics and auxiliary branches.
In the analysis in chapter two, the graphological and phonological features of style are discussed. Under the graphological features, the researcher looked but the use of Italics in ‘The Voter’ as well as in ‘Akweke’. The researcher posits that Achebe uses italics for emphasis, to reflect foreign concepts or cultural beliefs as well as to create humour. In ‘Vengeance Creditor’, the researcher posits that italics are used in ironic sense. In ‘Sugar Baby’ the graphological lightning of mood is observed. Another graphological feature is the use of space in ‘The Madman’ and ‘Dead Men’s Path,’ and the use of ellipsis in ‘Uncle Ben Choice’, ‘The Voter’. The phonological aspect, the researcher looked at rhythmic effects in ‘The Madman’, ‘Civil Peace’, ‘Uncle Ben Choice’, ‘Marriage is a Private Affair’, ‘The Voter’. Chapter three features the syntactic aspects of style such as the lexicon in ‘Chike’s School Days, ‘Dead Men’s Path’; sentence types and structures under which the researcher discusses antithetical structures, parallel structures, loose sentence structure, fragmented sentences, noun phrase structure under cohesion the researcher discussed anaphoric reference, the use of ellipsis, the use of anaphora, reiteration. Chapter four features semantic aspects of style, under which the following is discussed: Broadening and shifts, Neologism, direct translation, idiomatic deviations, figurative language such as imagery, irony and finally in chapter five, the auxiliary aspects of style was discussed such as register and Pidgin English. Satia concluded on the note that the research focused mainly on the linguistic aspect and that linguistic studies cannot be divorced from literary aspects of the text. Language and content are in a symbolic relationship.
This literature is related to the current research in its interest in stylistic analysis of Achebe’s short stories,; ‘Girls At War and Other Stories’ but differ in that current research selects three short stories from the collection: ‘The Madman’, ‘Civil Peace’ and ‘Girls At War’ while the previous or reviewed list studied all. The reviewed literature is a pure linguistic research while the current one is purely a literary research with focus on the language as it pertains to literature and the narrative techniques.
Kanu (2011) in “A Stylistics Analysis of Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come” carried out a study on stylistics as deviation from the norm. The analysis followed two procedures in that the researcher carried out a deviation analysis of both texts and then compared the styles in order to bring out their point of convergence and divergence.
First, an analysis of Half of a Yellow Sun as an epic narrative that tells the story of the Biafran war and its tragic end was explored by the research with focus on the language use of the writer. The researcher posits that the language of the text is rather artistic than communicative; implying that the work is rich in foregrounding irregularities. Hence the examination of the foregrounding irregularities was explored at different levels such as: lexical, syntactic and semantic level of analysis. At the phonological level, the researcher looked at parallelism in the form of alliteration, assonance and onomatopoeic devices by selecting extracts from the text. Graphological deviation in the work was looked at from the aspect of unusual capitalization of weapons of war, emphasizing the cause of the war. At the syntactic level, the researcher posits that Adichie employed transliteration; using the text to give flavour to the Nigerian language through the second language. The researcher also discussed the use of figures of speech and code mixing as part of the author’s techniques. The second part of the analysis handled the second text, Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come also concentrating on the same levels of stylistic linguistic analysis: phonological features such as alliteration and onomatopoeic devices; lexical features, morphological level and figures of speech embedded in the work.
Furthermore, the researcher compared and contrasted the stylistic features of both texts. At the end of the analysis, Kanu was able to state that both texts are similar in the aspect of lexical analysis but differs in every other part especially the narrative point of view and setting. Kanu pointed out that Adichie’s text has the third person point of view while Sefi’s has the first person. For the setting, Everything Good Will Come has the after war setting while Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun is set before and during the war.
This researcher established the fact that style belongs to a writer and that every writer has the ability to use language however he wants in order to meet a particular artistic objective not failing to communicate effectively. This literature is related to the current study in terms of its area of study – stylistics, the comparative analysis of stylistic features embedded in the work. However this current research differ from the reviewed literature in that the study aims at carrying out a stylistic analysis of selected short stories from Achebe’s Girlsat War and other Stories, selecting three short stories from the collection: “The Madman”, Civil Peace” and “Girls at War” with the focus on the use of language used by the author and the narrative techniques in the stories. This research will also delve into a comparative analysis of the stylistic features identified in the stories with the aim of establishing the dominant style that runs through these works and as part of the identity of the author – style as the man
Osogu (2011), in “Stylistic Study of Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus and Mongo Beti’s The Poor Christ of Bomba: a comparative study”, pointed out that Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus and Beti’s Poor Christ of Bomba have been confronted with the same problem of paying less attention to the how – the way language or better still, the style through which an author is able to achieve his aim. This has made their effort incomplete. The focus of the study was on the two fundamental concepts which constitute each author’s style: “how” and “what”. The work looked at the two authors’ idiosyncratic of language to achieve their aims in the novels.
The researcher first carried out a textual analysis of the structure of Purple Hibiscus, concentrating on the narrative and spoken voice which is in the first person. In the spoken voice, the researcher identified: direct and indirect speech, dialectal speech and code-mixing. Foregrounding imagery in the work was also explored revealing the captivity, violence and gloominess of the writer’s style as well as the use of irony were also identified in the work. The same analysis was also done for Beti’s Poor Christ of Bomba. The second part of the analysis concentrated on the comparative analysis of the techniques of both authors and at the end, the research was able to bring out their similarities and differences: both texts are similar in that they are both written in English, made use of the first person narrative technique and that the protagonists are presented in a similar way: harsh, unfeeling, obstinate and authoritative. However, they differ in their narrative tense in that in Purple Hibiscus, Adichie made use narrative tense, showing that the story happened long ago in the past but used dialogue to re-enact reality while Beti in The Poor Christ of Bomba deviated from the use of narrative tense (present tense) with little mixture of past tense in some cases. The researcher also noted that Poor Christ of Bomba is set in the colonial period while Purple Hibiscus has a neo-colonial setting.
This literature is related to the current research in its interest in stylistic analysis and its methodology of a comparative analysis of stylistic features as well as its focus on the style of the authors used to communicate in the literary world as regards the “how” and “what” of their styles. But differ in that This study aims at carrying out a stylistic analysis of selected short stories from Achebe’s Girlsat War and other Stories, selecting three short stories from the collection: “The Madman”, Civil Peace” and “Girls at War” with the focus on the use of language used by the author and the narrative techniques in the stories. This research will also delve into a comparative analysis of the stylistic features identified in the stories with the aim of establishing the dominant style that runs through these works and as part of the identity of the author – style as the man.