Thesis: The 12 aspects from the prose wheel are the guide lines that help the reader to explore the tone, theme and setting of the story.
Under the frangipani by Mia Couto is a very fascinating story. This is because the story is rare and very fictious. It talks about the dead being alive i.e. the dead’s soul goes into a living body hence one body accommodates two souls. The main idea of the story is about a murder that takes place and upon interrogation each of person present at that place takes the blame upon himself or herself with a pretty rigid reason. Mia Couto takes us across many different people having strange behaviors, life styles and abilities. Couto uses a wide range of styles to make his novel interesting.
The most crucial tool Couto used in developing his story was characters. He used a number of characters in his story each very different from another. First of all was the dead man himself i.e. Ermelindo Mucanga. This man is actually dead yet narrating to us his story. This character plays an important role in the book because he is the one the novel is based upon. It’s his life’s sad part that he wasn’t buried with proper ceremonies and so his soul didn’t attain salvation.
Another horrifying character is Navai Cetano. He is a man who was cursed by an evil spirit and so he grew old the moment he was born. In other words, he was an old-man-child. This character is rather a weird one; I mean how often you come across a child who grows up the second he was born. He has been placed with a very heavy curse, this is seen on page 22″I suffer the illness of premature age… I’m forbidden to tell my own story. When I finish my tale, I shall be dead.” Couto uses such vivid sentences like” do you see these wrinkles on my arm?” they are new, I didn’t have them before I started talking to you”; which make his readers sink into the characters’ tale and be sympathetic to him.
Little Miss No is also a character of the same novel. She is very old nearly 90’s yet her name is ‘little’ Miss No. she has the ability to turn herself into water. With the aid of this extra ordinary ability of hers she is able to transform and escape under any circumstances. All the people in her neighbour-hood think of her as a witch. People blame her for any event that occurred in their area. This is seen on page 76,” I too was unfairly accused. I was blamed for deaths that bad happed in our family. I was banished.” But then again she took these comments positively and built herself strong and firm. Hence, the people around her were scared of her and that way they didn’t attack her. This way Couto constantly keeps his readers engaged in reading his novel. Such spooky characters are those who bring the spicyness in the story.
The caretaker of the refuge, Marta, too is one strange character of the story. She was the nurse of the old people like Navai and little Miss No. Mata used to sleep naked on the ground. She claimed that this way she could absorb the secret energies of the earth; this is seen on page 69. When Couto uses such characters to develop his story readers get excited to read more about them, because these are not the activities done by us normal people.
Almost all of the characters’ he uses in his story are ‘Round’ meaning we exactly know where they come from, what they do and what their inner thoughts and feelings are. His character also ‘Foil’ because they come in the way of the main characters’ (Ermelindo) goal of investigating the murder of Vastome Excellency. They all take the blame upon themselves and give a right reason to that.
The novels’ setting also plays a crutial part in making the story interesting. This story is settled in Africa, in Mozambique, in a former Portuguese fort that used to store slaves and ivory but now offers refuge to old people. This is seen when Ermelindo talks about himself; ‘I was a carpenter at the Portuguese fort of Saï¿½ Nicolau.” Page 2.
This exactly tells the readers about how the story atmosphere is going to be. Since Ermelindo was a sad, angry and frustrated about his buried not being done well, he creates a spooky atmosphere when he talks about his possessions on page 2. “I had no other possessions, they buried me with my saw and hammer. They shouldn’t have done that. Metal should never be allowed into a tomb… and what’s’ worse, a shiny object that attracts a curse.” Couto’s idea of setting the story in an ancient place makes the readers be aware of a little of the place’s history as well as brings that charm of reading into the readers.
The novel’s main idea was “the Murder of the Vastome Excellency.” The biggest crisis faced by the police was that each person he interviewed was eager to claim that the murder was done by him/ her. Hence, tried misleading the inspector. He took great risks of interviewing weird people like Navai, little Miss No and Marta. Yet he never gave up until he solved the mystery. He was patient and had good listening skills. This made Couto’s story extend and bring about different twists and turns, so that His readers don’t get bored. Couto holds suspense throughout the book. As to who actual murder was, hence he ties his readers with his convincing words which force them to read further. And in the end Couto holds everything up nicely by giving the story a dramatic end.
Another technique used by Couto to make his piece of work interesting is the use of different points of views. He tells his readers what the first character thinks about the other. For example we come to know old gaffer’s thoughts about Marta, and how much he loves her. Also through the use of different points of views, Couto brings about suspense blame of the murder upon himself or herself. This also confuses the readers and brings about the urge to read further.
Couto’s wide use of imagery also brings the taste into his writing. He uses many images in different situations _____________ make the story seem more lively. For instance on page 126 “Life is like a cigarette. Lonely like the ash after the cigarette has been smoked.” Hence Marta is comparing her life with a cigarette in a conversation with the inspector. Imageries like these make his readers engaged in reading and not feel bored.
Diction is another component that we can spot in Couto’s work. He was a variety of words are like “halakavuma” of page 122 “wamulambo” of page 85 and “nkakana” of page 59. These words make the readers feel a though they have sunk into the characters’ life style and cultures. It brings some sort of comfort ness which makes Couto’s story less monotonous.
The book as a whole has a unique layout. It usually has confessions at night. This could be, so that Couto can bring a good atmosphere “silence”, “witchcraft” and “evil.” He also uses a range of dialogues though-out the story e.g. Conversations between old Gaffer and Sidimingo on page 63. This makes the readers enjoy reading the story.