A comparative examination of narrative voice in Diekoye oyeyinka’s stillborn and Ahmadou Kourouma’s Allah is not obliged

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Hankwa, Memory
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The University of Zambia
Narratologists concede that every narrative has an agency who conveys the story. This is the speaker that recounts events as one listens to the story. Voice is an integral aspect in narrative analysis. The study aimed at analysing the similarities and differences in the use of narrative voice in the novels Stillborn and Allah Is Not Obliged. These were evaluated in order to establish their significance to the narrative system of the two texts. The qualitative approach was utilised and the study was a desk research. The primary texts were purposefully sampled as they are both historical fictional works told by narrators who portray how political turmoil such as war in their respective societies wounds their psyche. A close comparative reading of the two text was conducted. Secondary data from articles, journals, books and electronic sources were examined mainly using the theory of narratology buttressed by the psychoanalytical literary theory. Findings were that in both texts, the narration is done retrospectively by several homodiegetic voices but Seun, a peripheral character is more audible in Stillborn whereas Allah Is Not Obliged is dominantly told by an autodiegetic narrator Birahima. Retrospective narrations are important as they enable the narrators to reflect on past events and examine their inner thoughts before narrating. Homodiegetic narrators are believable since they recount what they witness to a certain degree. The peripheral homodiegetic narrator exhibits sympathy towards the protagonists while the autodiegetic narrator recounts with depth as a victim of war, revealing his damaged psyche more than the observing narrator. Narrative embedding though more extensive in Stillborn is a vital artistic strategy used to develop themes, characterisation, create diversity, suspense and harmony in both texts. The functions of the narrator according to Genette’s (1980) model are all carried out by the overarching narrators. It is mainly through Seun’s and Birahima’s perspective that the tales are narrated. In directing the story, Birahima often pauses the story and time while Seun recounts continually. This demonstrates how varyingly narrators can manipulate the narrative’s flow. Through the communicative function, they confess their repressed emotional wounds and desires to the narratee. Their childhood experiences play a pivotal role in shaping the narratives. They also attest to what they recount but Birahima authenticates his account further by swearing. Testifying renders the narrators believable to the narratee. Political mayhems, ethnic and religious conflict are condemned through ideas the narrators communicate. This is essential to the development of themes. That both narrators are also narratees contributes to the construction of the matrix narratives since they graft the received tales to them. Key words: Narratology, narrative voice, significance, homodiegetic.
Narratology-- Narrative voice , Significance-- Homodiegetic.