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Ritualistic Sacrifice in The Strong Breed Essay

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Wole Soyinka, like other Nigerian writers, characterizes the conflict of cultural and religious choices in his country and emphasizes the distinct customs of society (Tucker 9). Born into the Yoruba tribe and culture, Soyinka’s writings are clearly influenced by Yoruba culture and practices. Communities and societies in Africa today religiously partake in ancient rituals that some may consider extreme, such as cannibalism and self-mutilation. In the village in The Strong Breed, the extent to which individuals will go in order to rid a community of its sins and faults is tested by the sadistic annual sacrificial killing of an innocent individual for communal benefit. Wole Soyinka introduces ritualistic human societies that expose the ferocity of human beings and emphasize the cruel nature of their members. The moral disgust that permeates the community prior and subsequent to the ritual, the uncommon traits seen in characters triggered by a ritualistic society, and dialogue that highlights increasing ferocity of human beings, brings into question the validity of whether or not ritualistic sacrifice is ultimately beneficial to a community.
The events that lead to the capture of Eman cast a sense of disgust across the village. During this time, the community feels remorseful for the need to kill an innocent man, but that remorse is outweighed by the presumed beneficial effect the killing will have on the community as a whole. Villagers abandon their sense of morality when the annual cleansing of the community occurs, suffusing the village with a tone of moral disgust. The carrier, typically a stranger, carries the burden of the community’s sin willingly or unwillingly, damaging the ritual’s purpose. The new village assigns t...


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Hepburn, Joan. "Mediators of Ritual Closure." Black American Literature Forum
22.3 (1988): 577-614. JStor. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. stable/2904316?seq=6>.


Johnson, Lemuel A. "Strong Breeds: Wole Soyinka and the Head of the Head of
State in A Play of Giants." Callaloo 27 (1986): 354-70. JStor. Web. 23 Feb.
2014.


McDowell, Robert E. "African Drama, West and South." Africa Today 15.4 (1968):
25-28. JStor. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. 4184936?seq=1>.

Soyinka, Wole. "The Strong Breed." 1963.

Tucker, Martin. "West African Literature: The Second Decade." Africa Today 13.5
(1966): 7-9. JSTOR. Web. 5 Apr. 2014. 10.2307/
4184716?uid=3739600&uid=2134&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21103944877193>.



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