Joyce Johnson


Recent discussions of Bessie Head's work have centred on A Question of Power and the general tendency has been to view this novel in terms of its reference to Head's experiences as a coloured South African and an exile in Botswana.' While Head's novels do reveal a deep concern with the social realities of Southern Africa, they also show a studied attempt to relate the local experiences of the characters depicted to mankind's social evolution. In linking these experimental and existential concerns, Head exploits the analogies between the conflict of forces within individuals and within a community and between the behaviour of human agencies and the operation of cosmic forces. Through the use of this analogical method she extends the reference of her novels and, at the same time, mirrors the thought-patterns of the society in which the novels are set. Moreover, she employs the conventions of traditional African narrative and praise poetry in which impressions of characters and events are frequently conveyed by indirect allusion rather than by explicit narration or description.



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