Beneath the Lion's Gaze is a book that succeeded to blend the notification and fiction depicting the circumstances revolving the Ethiopian revolution in early 1970s. Despite the fact that the author relies on political and historical accounts that were written by the non-Ethiopians and some of the Ethiopians, she tactically dramatized several pertinent and complex series of event such as the social and cultural themes with all of them made her novel appear as an impressive fictional literature work. Furthermore, like many other Ethiopians, the author of this novel is proud and has a desire to tell the experience of the land of Ethiopia though she was not telling the mere tale (Mengiste 20). In fact, in relatively elegant English boosted by metaphors, the author seeks to explore, recognizing, identifying and recognizing as well as meaningfully describing the puzzle units of the Ethiopian revolution. In spite of the fact that cruel testimonies and encounters were noticed throughout the novel, the book is mature in style and scope and also has this inclination to entertain, teach and enlighten the reader of the book.
The key actors in the book include Dr. Hailu Professor Yonas, Helem the wife of Hailu, the two sons of Dr. Hailu, Lily, who was the girlfriend of Dawit just to name but a few. Some of the actors such as Endalkachew Mekonnen, Haile Sellasie and Akilu Habtewold are real (Mengiste 22). On the other hand, other characters such as Hailu, Dawait and Yonas are depicted as fictional. Similarly, there are other characters such as Guddu, Solomon, and Mekonnen among others; these characters are said to be both real and fictional.
In essence, the book focuses on the land of Ethiopia, their leadership and the problems facing the country at large. Some of the prime characters in the novel, Hailu and Dawait, depict distinct but similar ideas throughout the novel. Selem; Hailu's wife was in a vegetative condition and vanishing as it was in Ethiopia in that period of 1970s and beyond. In the process, there were some relentless students, who wanted efforts, actions and struggles to evaluate and solve the poverty menace as well as stagnant and lack of progress in the country (Mengiste 29). The students were leading the others during the revolution of 1974. The soldiers were not left behind in the struggle for change in the country.
These issues plus other burning problems initiated people like Hailu and his son Dawait to demand changes and reforms from the authorities. When the military took over the leadership, the political direction did not please the people of the land. Furthermore, Dawait and his friends joined suit in the struggle for a fair and progressive of the country. On the other hand, Dawait involves Yonas in the binary and efforts to oppose with verbal discourse basing on the rights of the peasants; his father was more concerned with the cause of the famine (Mengiste 120). While Dawait's father Hailu thinks that some officials and drought are to be blamed for the famine that was being experienced but not the whole government was not to blame, Dawait, on the other hand, totally blames the ruling government being led by Haile Sellasie for the widespread famine. The derg soon learned the language of revolution and joined Dawait to point blaming finger to the emperor, his screwed government and the high ranked officials for the famine and lack of proper development in Ethiopia.
Later there were many killings, curfews were then declared and thousands of people were arrested for no particular reason. The author represented Dawait as an idealist who tried to condemn the dark deeds of the government. Throughout the novel, metaphors are used to describe events. For example, human heart as a metaphor, Hailu understands that the human heart can stop working because of many reasons (Mengiste 133). The heart is fragile, shaped like a cone, hollow with muscular tissues and is divided into four distinct chambers by a muscular wall. The hear operates in an organized manner where the valves close and open at steady and systematic time. The metaphoric symbol of the heart is compared to the Nommo, which was the crucial force in African art; the dynamic with no art at all would lack meaning. However, Dr. Hailu advocates for steady and slow progress rather than undertaking revolutionary operations.
The revolution that was taking place hindered everything; it made things to be worse. The organized groups such as the Red Terror terrorized the innocent people of the land. Murders and arrests were the subjects of the day. Some mothers as if Sofia wondered which god to pray to, the problems had reached extreme levels that could not be withstand anymore (Mengiste 138). Dawait together with his friends including Melaku and Sara, they spend days and nights trying to help the victims of the massacre. There were shuns of slogans from different angles; a low, mournful cries and sounds erupted all over the place.
Consequently, the book continues to describe how people like Dawait and Hailu fight for the rights of the people. However, to some extent Dr. Hailu seem to defend part of the government. Contrary to his father, Dawait was unspoken and determinant, he had strong fighting spirit for his country. Despite the fact that Dawait was times childish and naïve, in terms of temerity and tenacity he papers to be the antidote of Yonas, a more calculating and pragmatic character. On the other hand, Dr. Hailu is a bit tender in dealing with the revolution in Ethiopia; he respects the government but blames some of the leaders for their lack of transparency.
When Dr. Hailu was arrested due to the revolutionary operations in the country, however, he was released. Unfortunately, due to the psychological and physical torture, Haiti could not live. Dr. Haiti together with other leaders who perished at the course of the revolution process showed true solidarity and love for the land (Mengiste 150). The Beneath the Lions Gaze brings the silent ordeal of the long moments into the face of Ethiopians.
In summary, the relationship between Dr. Haiti and his son Dawit revolves around the struggle and fight to save the country and its citizens from exploitation, which was rampant. Despite the fact that Dawit had different views; he pointed a blaming finger to the government and all its leaders, the two had one objective of building a strong and dependable nation that they could be proud of. Dr. Hailu had a relatively different perspective concerning the cause of the problems that were seen during the revolution period. He blamed only part of the officials in the government but not the entire system of the government. The two worked to achieve the same goal and destiny.
Purple Hibiscus a book set in the postcolonial Nigeria brings the political instabilities and the failures that, unfortunately, marked the flow running of the daily activities in the African country. The characters are depicted the sin a manner that tries to bring the epitome of the matters affecting the daily activities within the societal framework. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie brings the epic scenes within the novel that focuses a clear reflection of the society, which is faced by the post-colonial effects. This is highlighted by the central place that religion does influence in the view that seeks to affect the characters of the individuals.
Relationship between characters is also given a key consideration in the novel. Eugene also known as Papa is keenly depicted as the father of the two children Chukwuka "Jaja" Achike and Kambili the central character. Eugene brings a character that depicts which highlights strictness in all aspects particularly religion. The author shows this in the opening paragraph, which shows Eugene throwing his missal for missing church and communion that Sunday.
The aspect of Catholicism overshadows Eugene's paternal love. This is in relation to the way he behaves in an authoritarian manner that depicts a strict adherence to religion (Adichie 10). Consequently, this affects his relationship with his son Jaja that breaks the cord of love in the relationship between a father and his son. This is further cemented by the way in many occasions; Eugene actually punishes his wife Mama Beatrice Achike and his children by not being able to live according to his set high standards within his framework.
Papa Eugene is a prominent rich man known in the Enugu area. He owns various factories within the area and publishes the pro-democracy newspaper this definitely explains the prominence and fame he has in the surrounding villages (Adichie 127). The connection that he has with the religion makes his relationship affect the bond he has with his family. This consequently leaves Jaja affected by the way his father has changed within the time the colonial era was the song of the day. The impulse and the pressure his dad mounted on him for strictly commanding him to follow the catholic ways makes him try distant himself from his ways to avoid the commotion that arises as a result over the same.
Through the various restrictions that Eugene sets in the family, it ruins his relationship with his son by demanding explanations in every dynamics of church and daily encounter. For instance after the missing of the church communion sermon, he further demands an explanation after serving his family cashew nuts juice (Adichie 130). The authoritarian and strict disciplinarian brings a strict adherence to his religion, which definitely sees him command his family to live according to his own virtues.
Though raised and brought up in the Igbo ways and traditions, Papa rarely speaks his native mother tongue at his home and in public places. This is as a result of the changes that the colonial era has brought to him and his ways of living. His son keeps on watching the changed father and how he distant and elevate himself in the missionaries ways. He was raised and educated in the colonial ways, in Nigeria and England effectively. This leads him to use an English accent of which to him reflects and justifies his prominence and righteous Christian ways of the colonial Nigeria (Adichie 148). Tussle and commotions arise because of the papa spreading his wings in the colonial ways. This clearly makes Jaja dismayed that through the transition, they cannot further communicate with his dad on the ways of the language of their eyes. Consequently, this furthers the basic tenet, which the family feels as strange to their head because of the changed ways and customs.
Despite these changes, Father Benedict and Mother Lucy still maintains the native African image which they communicate to their children to properly uphold. The ancestral separation with his custom makes him deviate from his son the moment he keeps on demanding explanations for the basic religious things, which lead to Jaja view as being forced (Adichie 150). This leads to Eugene imposing a mapped schedule to his family in which they have strictly to adhere to. This pisses of his children Jaja included in the view that they consider it as not good in both them and the societal framework.
Clearly, Eugene has two different faces that he clearly depicts in the private life and public (Adichie 180). For instance, he severely punishes his son and their mother Beatrice together with Kambili when they slightly wrong him and go against his schedule. Nevertheless, on the other hand, he expresses himself as an important man in the society through helping the poor and worthy causes through dishing out money to the needy.
Despite these commotions within the family set up and the broken cord between the father and his family, Jaja comes out strong by doing extraordinary things and takes the blame of his mother. This consequently lands him in prison for three years. In conclusion, the relationship between "Jaja" Achike and his father Eugene (Papa) is one of a rocky wind caused by the infirmities and the unfortunate standings that Eugene upholds, that definitely ruins it.
Adichie, Chimamanda N. Purple Hibiscus: A Novel. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2003. Print.
Mengiste, Maaza. Beneath the Lion's Gaze: A Novel. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2010. Print.