The Dark Child -Cmr Ly.

The story is told by a grown-up narrator-protagonist who recalls his years as a young boy. The autobiographical characteristic of the novel leads the reader to assume that this young boy (Fatoman), who is the main character of the book, is Camara Laye himself. Laye traces the development of his cultural and personal values as a young man coming of age within the Malinke tribe.

He portrays nostalgically his happy childhood, his parents, education, initiation of Malinke culture, ritual circumcision, and the end of his youth. He then goes to Conakry for higher education. after completing it, he gets a scholarship to go to Paris for further higher studies.

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The story starts with the young 6 year old Fatoman (Laye himself) playing in his village Kouroussa. “I was a little boy playing around my father’s hut” (Laye 17). The relationship with his parents, especially his mother, is the link between the boy and his African roots. Laye is very proud of his parents, depicting both as outstanding characters. His father, a reputed blacksmith in the village, is also endowed with spiritualistic powers. His father tells Laye: “The snake is the guiding spirit of our race. Can you understand that?” (Laye 69).

Although theirs is a patriarchal society where the father is the head of the family, in Laye’s household it was his mother who was dominant. “I realize that my mother’s authoritarian attitudes may appear surprising. generally the role of the African woman is thought to be a ridiculously humble one, but Africa is vast, with a diversity equal to its vastness.” (Laye 69). His mother had spiritual powers as well. “It was due to the strange powers she possessed.” (Laye 69). Among these powers was the ability to persuade animals to obey her commands and being able to approach crocodiles without being harmed.

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