277-Africa: An Introductory Survey

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Song of Lawino, Song of Ocol -- Themes, Questions, and Comments

Hey guys,
Thanks for the nice sessions on the book this week. As promised here are the themes and questions I prepared for the discussion sections. Obviously these donot cover the entire book; so, if you have another question or important theme, don’t hesitate to post it.

  1. If you had to characterize Lawino in the Song of Lawino, would you say that she’s angry, jealousy or does she simply pity Ocol, and why?
  2. Literary tools: pick some literary tools (metaphors, imagery, symbolism) that are used in the novel and in each case attempt to interpret such literary tools; say what you think is going on, why did the author decide to use any of them, etc.
  3. Lawino uses Ocol to describe how the world around her has changed. To what extent are these changes compatible with her world?
  4. What things does Lawino fear losing? That’s describe the things she thinks are extremely important to the Acholi people.
    Are there instances when you think that she can compromise?
  5. What do you make of Lawino’s experience with religion?
  6. Connecting the novel to the other course materials: Remember the lecture on Tuesday focused on the important of family, kinship, lineage, etc? Can you find instances and situations in the novel to show the importance of the following: lineage, kinship, family, marriage, bride wealth, and polygyny?


At February 3, 2005 at 8:35 PM, Blogger Ingrid said...

As I am reading the book, I find Lawino's description of red lipstick very interesting. To compare the image with that of a bleeding wound certainly shows her complete offence with white aesthetics. I am certainly enjoying how she is comparing and contrasting her own traditional opinions with that of the white colonists.

At February 3, 2005 at 9:46 PM, Blogger Daniel H. Goldman said...

I am wondering about the allusions to dancing and if there are traditional components of dances that would add to the meaning of the analogies.

At February 8, 2005 at 1:39 PM, Blogger Cathy said...

I took the dancing to be almost a type of rebellion, especially when she "escaped" the church meeting to go dance with her age-mates. I could be wrong though. I also thought the image of the red lipstick interesting, but I associated it and the image of "an angery cat" to other negative animal imagery Lawino uses to describe westernized culture. Which I thought was particularly ironic when Lawino says that Ocol says she is "like a puppy" and other derogatory remarks. I also picked up on a lot of death/decay imagery in both accounts of the story. Did anyone else catch that, or I am reading too much into things?

At February 10, 2005 at 3:32 AM, Blogger Ben Twagira said...

In-class writing assignment (15 points).

Topic: You will be given two passages. You will be asked to identify and explicate the passage which best represents Lawino’s overall message to Ocol. In other words, you will be asked to choose and explain the meaning of one of the passages on the basis of its centrality to Lawino’s argument.

Recall that “to explicate” means “to make clear or explicit (something obscure or implied); to explain fully” (Webster’s, 3rd Edition). Explicating a passage from Song of Lawino will require that you unpack the symbolism of the Song and that you bear in mind key Acoli concepts of social and political organization.

Details: You will be given 20 minutes at the beginning of class on Tuesday February 15th to write an in-class essay in response to Song of Lawino, Song of Ocol. You will be given the essay topic in your Week 4 discussion section and will have the opportunity then to discuss the book with your peers and TA. If you are absent on 2/15, you will be given 20 minutes at the beginning of the following class, 2/17, to write the essay. If you are absent on 2/17, you must make arrangements with your TA to write the essay no later than the end of Week 7. Essays not completed by the end of the day on Friday March 3rd will receive a zero.

At February 12, 2005 at 4:28 PM, Blogger robinbettinger said...

In response to the first question here, I don't think she is angry or jealous, maybe a little of both but that she is more hurt that Ocol doesn't appreciate anything that she or members of the Acoli do. He doesn't like their food, their traditions...and i think she is confused about why the ways of the whites seem so much better to him, because it's not that one culture is better, it's just that they're different. does anyone else agree?

At February 12, 2005 at 11:10 PM, Blogger andy behm said...

the whole idea of lawino pitying ocol because he prefers western culture seems a little ethnocentric. i think it shows that lawino puts acoli culture on a pedestal in the same way ocol idolizes the west, but less extreme.

in response to cathy's comment on rebellion: i don't think that lawino really sees the missionaries as having a position of authority, so i don't think they can really be a target of rebellion. the dancing, i believe, just shows the hypocrisy and rigidness of western religion more starkly by comparison with the freedom and honesty of the acoli dance.


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