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Creating a Bildungsroman from a Collage

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Re-Reading Shimmer Chinodya’s Can We Talk and Other Stories

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The essay re-reads all of the stories in Shimmer Chinodya’s collection Can We Talk and Other Stories as one entity—a collage—that establishes the framework of a bildungsroman. Here, the exploration of the bildungsroman is limited to the tracing of levels/stages of growth and is extended to the protagonist’s adult life, against the traditional early years of life. From the opening story, of a three-year-old protagonist looking at the adult world through the stories of different protagonists who grapple with different stages of life, to the last story, of an embittered husband in a dysfunctional marriage, the collection strongly suggests a conscious arrangement conveying a sense of a coming of age, both individual and national. In essence, at the end of reading the collection, there is a strong indication that the different situations of the lives of the different protagonists of the eleven stories in the collection build up to yield a unified sense of growth.

Affiliations: 1: Federal University Lokoja, Nigeria


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