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Life is Sweet

Have you ever taken the time to just sit back and enjoy your life for what it is and where it’s at? In the story, “Life is Sweet at Kumansenu,” by Nicol Abioseh, the author illustrates the life of a woman named Bola who receives a visit from her son, Meji, who she thought did not live past childbirth. Later in the story, we find out that Meji is actually dead and visiting his mother as a ghost. The theme of “Life Is Sweet at Kumansenu” is don’t take life for granted, as described through the author’s uses of setting, characterization, symbolism, irony, and imagery.

First of all, the theme of “Life is Sweet at Kumansenu” is portrayed through the ways that the author describes the setting of the story. The setting describes the surroundings around the character and the area in which the character lives or spends a lot of time. For instance, on page 147 the setting is described as, “The sea and the wet sand to one side of it; green tropical forest on the other; above it, the slow, tumbling clouds. The clean, round, blinding disk of sun and the blue sky covered and surrounded the small African village, Kumansenu.” These statements fit with the theme, “Don’t take life for granted,” because they speak of the beautiful area that is all around and how sometimes you need to just stop and take a look at the beauty of life. Therefore, the author used a unique setting to describe the theme of the story.

Secondly, the theme can be seen in the uses of characterization throughout the story. In “Life is Sweet at Kumansenu,” the author shows characterization through speech and appearance. On page 153, this statement is made: “She clutched Asi to her. ‘I am glad I gave him the opportunity to come back, for life is sweet.’” This form of characterization used was speech in which Bola clutched her granddaughter to herself she spoke of how happy she was that she let Meji come see her because he would be able to enjoy life. This is a form of characterization in that it shows how much Bola cared about her son and wanted him to enjoy the essence of life. Also, on page 149, another form of characterization used is, “He turned around from the window and looked at her with a twisted half-smile of love and sadness.” This form was that of appearance and it demonstrates the theme in that, without the audience knowing it, Meji is dead and he is looking at his living mother. He sees in her a love for life and wishes that he himself could be experiencing that sort of love. So it can be concluded that Abioseh, the author of this story, used characterization through speech and through appearance to interpret the theme that life should not be taken for granted.


Thirdly the theme of “Life is Sweet at Kumansenu” is demonstrated through symbolism. In this story symbolism provides foreshadowing and represents the emotions of the characters. An example of symbolism is on page 151, when “She threw the four kola nuts up into the air and they fell on the grave.” In this case, the kola nuts represent death, which adds to the theme because it’s showing that death can come suddenly. Another instance of symbolism is when Asi’s mother tells her, “Your papa had this made last week for your Christmas present. You may as well have it now (152).” She is referring to a gold locket, which symbolizes Meji’s love for his daughter. This contributes to the theme because it shows how love is important and you should appreciate those in your life. Therefore, symbolism is one element which serves to demonstrate the theme of this story.

The fourth aspect that illuminates the theme is irony. Irony is defined as the contrast between our expectations and reality. Irony is used a lot in “Life is Sweet at Kumansenu,” because of the fact that the main plot has a highly ironic twist (that a man who appears normal is really dead). One instance of this is when Bola and Meji are standing by the grave of Meji’s father and Meji “...said that he felt nearer his father at that moment than he had ever done before in his life (151).” This is both verbal and situational irony, since at the time, Meji was actually dead, so he really would be closer than ever to his dead father. This proves the theme because it shows how unexpected things, death not least of all, can happen, and that you shouldn’t take things for granted. Because of this, irony is clearly one way in which the author presents the theme.
Yet another way the author shows the theme through his use of imagery. He uses imagery to illustrate the fact that life is too short and must not be wasted. One example of this is on page 148 “...Some had swollen up and with weak, plaintive cries had faded away. Others had shuddered in sudden convulsions with burning skins and had rolled up their eyes and died.” This statement describes the theme by using imagery to show the sad death of her babies and to show the fact that life is short. This proves that the theme of “don’t take life for granted” is shown through imagery

In conclusion, the message of “Don’t take life for granted” is clearly presented as the theme of “Life is Sweet at Kumansenu.” It is shown through Abioseh’s use of setting to describe the beauty in nature that we shouldn’t forget to notice. It is also made apparent because of the characterization that shows how sweet life is. Another element that shows the theme is the symbols of the story and how they represent death and the love a father has for his daughter. Irony also contributes by showing how things are not always what we expect them to be, and that death may be closer than we realize. Last but not least, the theme is demonstrated by the author’s imagery, which paints a vivid picture of how fleeting life is. This all goes to show that it’s important to not let life pass you by and to enjoy what you have while it lasts.



Works Cited



Nicol, Abioseh. “Life is Sweet at Kumansenu.” Elements of Literature Fourth Course. Austin: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, 2000.



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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

tennis025 said...
Jan. 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm
i was just reading this 2 get info 4 my midterm and i was just thinking this is really well written. good job. :)
 
passionforpoetry12 replied...
Mar. 29, 2011 at 12:52 pm
thank-you very much! :)
 
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