Exploring the Paradigmatic Thinking and Representation in R. E. Obeng's Eighteenpence: Beyond Plot
English Language Literature & Culture
When narratives are mentioned, the first thing that springs to mind is plot. Plot is important because of its reference to development and process, which make possible the outlining and enacting of the forms of life that shape up around a particular time and structure. Meaning-making in a narrative is generally dependent on this arrangement and the forms of life it creates from it. Nonetheless, in producing meaning, plot is not the only way of designing a narrative. One other significant way of
... significant way of structuring or designing narratives and creating meaning in narratives is through a pattern: juxtapositioning, parallelism and contrasts. In these meaning making processes of either plot or pattern, time is significant. Plot depends upon a linear sequential process implicating process and development and therefore a beginning, a middle and an end, or time in progression, whereas pattern depends upon time that is held static in a paradigmatic structure of an eternal present, conflating past, present and future. Pattern can occur at the level of words, but also at the level of phrases and sentences (stylistics), or at the level of scenes, chapters, and in parts or divisions. The most essential thing to recognize about all this, however, is that the pursuit and crucial aspect of a narrative is that it seeks to create its own world through the process of packaging what it is creating through a design. The underlying principle of this packaging is 'tying together'. Hence narratives tie together people, objects and facts. And they tie them together in a manner that is stylistically and grammatically acceptable. By tying together objects and facts, and tying people together, and by doing so through stylistic and grammatical means, the argument of the narrative is conveyed at a more implicit level than through an explicit level such as for plot; that is, through the very textual organization of accounts. Using R. E. Obeng's Eighteenpence as example, this paper investigates the significance and effectiveness of creating consequence and meaning through the design patterns of juxtapositioning, parallelism and contrast for narratives which foreground the textual and structural organization of accounts to convey their meaning and arguments. Obeng's Eighteenpence is the first full-length Ghanaian novel (1967), preceding Ayi Kwei Armah's The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968).