A connection I noticed between Half of a Yellow Sun and Okri’s “Stars of the New Curfew,” was the presence and importance of dreams and the subconscious. Both Olanna and Okri’s protagonist have conscious stress that is filtering into their subconscious. By utilizing this outlet, the authors can show their audience a more surreal portrayal of the heavy emotions each is trying to get across. These dreams also bring out the spirituality that permeates African culture. The protagonist of “Stars of the New Curfew” even goes to an herbalist to rid himself of these dreams and the man proclaims that he feeds off of such dreams.
I also noticed that there is a big difference between the audience’s reactions to the scams mentioned in the Smith readings from the beginning of the semester, and how the audience feels toward the protagonist of “Stars of the New Curfew.” While most would want to reprimand and look down on those who commit the well-known Nigerian e-mail scams (among other corrupt schemes in order to get money), the reader of “Stars of the New Curfew” tend to sympathize with the protagonist, even though he is committing the same crimes. Being disconnected from the perpetrators of the scams in Smith’s piece, I found it hard to feel anything for them, other than to accept that these are probably the quickest ways to get money living in a corrupt country. However, the fact that the protagonist is tormented by dreams and tries to get away from his life of sales allows the audience to empathize with his situation.
I think the contrast in portrayal is an important distinction to note. While Smith is commenting on these as an outside source, Okri is a more legitimate way of looking at things. He allows his audience, foreign or native, to acknowledge the helplessness most of the Nigerian citizens face. Due to the fact that the protagonist is riddled with remorse and attempts to clean up his act, a more sympathetic tone is radiating from his story.
As an aside, I found it ironically funny that, in Barber’s piece, Nigerian government officials are worried about an increasing crime rate, when they too are committing crimes on an even bigger scale. Just a thought.