A Stylistic Analysis of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s the Thing Around Your Neck
Chapter One of A Stylistic Analysis of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s the Thing Around Your Neck
Stylistics is the study and interpretation of texts from literary and linguistic perspectives. As a discipline it links literary criticism and linguistics. A stylistic analysis entails studying in details the features of written or spoken texts and stating what functions they perform in the context of the texts. The features chosen from any text are dealt with in three ways; identification, description and purpose. The method of analysis is purely scientific.
Carter (1989, p.162) suggests that the practice of stylistics comes about at any point of intersection of the language of a text with the elements which constitute literariness of that text. The point of focus in stylistics is the recognition of how a text works as a whole. It attempts to establish principles capable of explaining the particular choice made by social groups in their use of language and the production or reception of meaning. Stylistics is practiced as a part of understanding the possible meanings in a text. It is also generally assumed that the process of analysis will reveal the qualities of a work.
Stylistics is the study of style used in literary and non literary texts and the effect a writer or speaker wishes to communicate to the reader or hearer. It is mainly concerned with the idea of style, the analysis of literary texts and the application of linguistics to literary and non literary texts. Since every writer possesses his or her own particular way of writing and thinking, language use is different from one writer to another. To appreciate a literary work, it is important to see how the language and style used by the writer affect the interpretation of the work. Stylistics focuses on texts and gives much attention to the devices and style. It therefore, discusses theoretical matters alongside whatever practical analysis they provide.
Stylistic analysis besides helping one to acquire an explicit basis for deciding between interpretations also helps one to become more consciously aware of the processes of interpretation which are used in order to get to grips with the text one has read.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Adichie, being a young writer in exile, has written many books which have won several awards including her latest novel The Thing Around Your Neck. So many reviews have been done on the book and that is why the Daily Telegraph (UK) says this about the book “Adichie writes with an economy and precision that makes the strange seem familiar, she makes story telling seem as easy as a bird song”.
It is therefore important to study how Adichie has been able to manipulate language to create stylistic effects to pass her message across to the readers.
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this work is to examine the basic linguistic features that have been used by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in The Thing Around Your Neck to pass her message across to the readers and the society.
Since language is an important tool used in literature, and language use differs from one writer to another, how then has the writer been able to employ language to create stylistic effects? The effect of her language use on the overall appreciation of the work will be studied.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This work will make use of Adichie’s The Thing Around Your Neck as its primary source. A stylistic analysis shall be done to know how the writer has been able to manipulate language to achieve certain effects. This analysis shall be conducted using the following elements of stylistics, graphology, morphology, phonology, syntax, lexico-semantics and point of view.
A study of this nature is important as it helps us to know how language contributes to meaning generation in Adichie’s The Thing Around Your Neck which has qualified the book published in 2009, to win various prizes. Since a literary work cannot be complete without an effective use of language, it is significant to study how Adichie has employed language to create stylistic effects.
This work will expand the frontiers of knowledge. It will make a place in the body of knowledge and help upcoming researchers to understand how Adiche has employed stylistic devices in her text.
This research will adopt a functional approach, an approach where particular note is taken of the stylistic function, effect and thematic significance of linguistic features in a literary text.
The essay will study the society created by the writer through the character and situations in the text. The Thing Around Your Neck will serve as the primary source. There will also be reliance on secondary materials such as text books, stylistics dictionary and internet sources.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in 1977 in Enugu, Nigeria. She studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria then moved to the US to study communications and political science at Eastern Connecticut State University. She obtained an MA in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.
After initially writing poetry and one play, For the love of Biafra (1998), she wrote several short stories published in literary journals. She has won various competition prizes. The first novel Purple Hibiscus was published in 2003 and is set in the political turmoil of 1990’s Nigeria. The narrative was told from the perspective of a 15-year-old Kambili Achike. Purple Hibiscus won the 2005 commonwealth writers prize (overall winner, best book) and was shortlisted for the 2004 orange prize for fiction. Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun 2006 was set before and during the Biafra war. It won the 2007 orange broadband prize for fiction.
Her latest book is a collection of short stories; The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), shortlisted for the 2009 John Llewellyn-Rhys Memorial prize and the 2010 commonwealth writers prize (Africa Region, Best Book). Chimamanda lives between Nigeria and the United States
In the novel published in 2009, the writer turns her penetrating eye on not only Nigeria but America, in twelve dazzling stories that explore the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United states with a few telling details that do not portray one culture superior to the other.
In “A private experience”, a medical student hides from a violent riot with a poor Muslim woman whose dignity and faith force her to confront the realities and fears she has been pushing away. In “Tomorrow is too far”, a woman unlocks the devastating secret that surrounds her brother’s death. In “Imitation”, a young mother finds her comfortable life in Philadelphia threatened when she learns that her husband has moved his mistress into their home in Lagos. “The Thing Around Your Neck” depicts the choking loneliness of a Nigerian girl who moves to America that turns out to be nothing like the country she expected though falling in love brings her desires nearly within reach, a death in her homeland forces her to re-examine them.
“Searing and profound, Suffused with beauty, sorrow and longing, the collision of two cultures and the deep human struggle to reconcile them”. The Thing Around Your Neck according to the back cover of the book, “is a resounding confirmation of the prodigious literary powers of one of our most essential writers”.