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Kumansenu by Paige

By , Camas, WA
Have you ever read a story that appears to be about one thing but turns out to be another? You can’t always understand what the idea of it is until the end, like in the short story “Life Is Sweet at Kumansenu.” This story is about a mother’s (Bola) six children all dying young while one, Meji, survives and goes on to make his mom proud. As he comes back to visit Bola and his daughter, Asi, a surprise ending is revealed and a mysterious piece of work is created. Abioseh Nicol’s short story “Life Is Sweet at Kumansenu” embodies a diverse point of view, opposed setting, influencing symbols, unforeseen plot, and knowledgeable theme in this mysterious tale.

Firstly, the omniscient point of view is able to reveal hints about the story that people wouldn’t otherwise be able to find out. In other words, information is being told in generalities rather than focusing on one character. Incidents from Bola’s past are explained while activities with Meji and Asi are also being shown. For instance, Nicol informs about Bola’s children, “They had all died; or rather he had died, Bola thought...” (148). And again, he illustrates a time when Meji and his daughter are alone, “Meji took Asi for a long walk through a deserted path and up into the hills” (150). Through showing past experiences and also current events, the reader is able to gather more knowledge on what is happening in the story. With the diverse point of view, much more perplexing information is told.
Secondly, a cultural setting is shown and described which affects multiple parts of the story having to do with the mystical meaning. This means that the characters’ culture changes what they believe and how they act upon their beliefs. A “...small African village, Kumansenu” (147) is where the story takes place. One example of a custom unlike from ours is Musa’s guidance. “...Musa, the village magician...had advised her and her husband to break the bones of the quiet little corpse and mangle it so that it could not come back to torment them alive again” (148). In African villages, people have different traditions and beliefs than those in other parts of the world, and so what they believe and do will also be different. The characters therefore act differently because of the unlike environment and customs.
Thirdly, although there are few symbols, they end up influencing the entire story, including the outcome of everything. Magic is a prominent point which also has to do with the differing beliefs. One case of the use is on page 148 near the beginning, “...Musa, the village magician...” Another is later on at the end, “Musa, the magician...” (153). The factor of magic helps to reveal the surprise ending because of what both the people and the magician believe. Here one can see that the meaningful symbols such as magic affect the story as a whole.
Fourth, an unexpected plot is described which makes for a supernatural unveiling. Every aspect of plot is involved in how the story plays out in the end, and specifically the rising action leading to the climax. Nicol illustrates Meji’s odd sayings when he arrives at his mother’s, “I don’t want to see anyone, no one at all...No one is to know I’m here” (149). In this scene, Meji is frantic about making sure no one in the village is aware of his sudden appearance. Although this may not seem odd, it is just one hint leading up to the final resolution. The interesting rising action makes for an unforeseen plot as a whole.
Lastly, there is a perceptive theme involved that is proven by the end, hinting at the surprise. I found this to be to simply enjoy the people in your life while you have them because life is short. The theme has everything to do with what is happening in the story, such as Meji showing up at his mother’s. Meji speaks with Bola, “Let us enjoy each other, all three of us, this time. Life is too short” (149). This shows the fact that Meji has arrived to spend time with his mother and daughter, which is later integrated into the ending. The thoughtful theme is true to both this story and to life, while still suggesting something of the supernatural.

In conclusion, Abioseh Nicol incorporates a broad point of view, cultural setting, influential symbols, surprise plot, and insightful theme to create an unnatural narrative in his short story “Life Is Sweet at Kumansenu.” The knowledgeable point of view shares much information from both characters. Setting affects every aspect of the story from traditions to characters. Magic is an important symbol which involves the story as a whole. And a wise theme can be found which proves itself to be true. So the next time you read something, make sure to pay attention to the details and don’t automatically suspect the obvious answer.





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