I am very interested in the way in which Graceland_ seems to be provoking an unusual amount of discussion about the previous novels we have read. I agree that masculine nature of Graceland _is very similar to Things Fall Apart_. This novel seems to even more explicitly promote almost a female-free environment for men. During his coming of age ritual, Elvis is told that he needs to severe his “apron strings,” meaning that he needs to terminate his attachment to and dependence on his mother and grandmother, as this is not part of what it means to be a man. This seems to take the “motherlessness” of Things Fall Apart a step further.
Another strong theme dominating Abani’s novel and the other’s we have read is death. All of these works are not just concerned with mortality, but more with traditions and cultural perceptions surrounding death. In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo’s suicide is caused by his collapsing environment and received well. In Death and the King’s Horseman, the ritual suicide is only not accepted by the westerners. Suicide is a controversial topic within most cultures, however Abani helps to inform the cultural perception. Sunday tells Elvis when he is only 5 years old, “Don’t turn away from death. We must face it. We are men” (21). “Facing death” could mean living your life in a fearless way (YOLO), being bold enough to kill another creature, whether it be a man, an eagle, or a chicken, or it could also have a more literal meaning, that a man should never be afraid to lose his life, or even take his own life. This discourse between the three works really made me wonder how death, and more specifically suicide, fits into the culture.
Another connection that made me wonder about cultural perception of death was a comment made about the market, that they “were supposed to be the crossroads of the living and the death” (14). After hearing this my mind immediately jumps to “The Complete Gentleman” and the grotesque images of the market of body parts. This connection is too clear to be coincidental, so I wonder if there is a well establish connotation of death that accompanies the markets of Nigeria.