While it’s obvious that a novel’s characters tend to have some sort of resolution to their troubles by the end of a narrative, I find the way Abani concluded each of his character’s stories significant. Throughout the novel there has been a struggle between the traditional and the modern, the past and the present/future. These struggles are the backdrop to the ultimate conflict of the story, Elvis’s search for and the formation of his identity.

To start, many of the main adult characters in the novel meet their death by the very end. Sunday is run over by a bulldozer after discussing his fate with his dead wife’s ghost and his family’s spirit animal. Although he dies, Sunday finally finds it within himself to act according to honoring his family as opposed to wallowing and drinking up until his final minute. He is able to overcome the weight of his own personal regrets. The King of de Beggars, too, can rest in peace for he is finally able to enact the revenge he’d been waiting for for years. Thus, the King brings his life full circle and closes the chapter of the Biafran War and its horrors. These two main authority figures for Elvis have found themselves and exit the novel on their own terms.

Elvis’s closure, on the other hand, is slightly different. Sunday and the King, pawns of the past, are now gone, but Elvis finds himself given an opportunity to finally move on and truly find himself in America. Traditionalism has died with his mother, grandmother, father, and mentor. Now Elvis must pave the way for a less corrupt modernity. By making Elvis the most educated and the most withdrawn from the Nigerian way of life, Abani is able to critique the ways of the Nigerian government and show how foreign influences end up being the most important in shaping a modern identity.

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About lnds-y

I'm an alumna of American University, where I received my B.A. in Literature.

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