It has been a long while since I read an autobiography and this one, contrary to most everything else professors have assigned to read, was pretty decent. Camara Laye’s The Dark Child is at first glance your run of the mill coming of age tale, with a few different odds and ends thrown in. After the first few pages though, you begin to realize that it isn’t quite as normal and bland as some of the other required readings you may have been assigned. Whether you are a fan of autobiographies or not, The Dark Child is without a doubt worth your time.
This is something that I thought he did wonderfully; as the book continues and he grows older, his perception and understanding of the world change along with his writing. So while he is writing about when he was a small child, he writes as if he believes what he sees and as the book nears its end, he comments more on the natural and logical as opposed to the supernatural and the impossible. Laye begins his life story at the age of 5 or 6, neither he nor the reader are really sure which it is. He opens with a fictitious aspect to grab the reader; the aspect being a magical snake. His father is a well-known blacksmith by those both near and far. He is held in great esteem. So much so that he is chosen by “the guiding spirit of [his] race,” (24). To be its representative. This enthralls Laye and he grows even more respect and admiration of his father. His mother is also well known for a special ability: she was known for her ability to “see what evil was being hatched and could denounce the author of it, yet her power went no further,” (73). This means that she could sense evil and wrongdoing, call it out, but had no powers to actually cast a harmful spell. This is why the people never feared her, and greatly respected her. She also had abilities such as walking next to alligators without being harmed, due to her totem, and commanding animals to do as she said, i.e. when then horse refused to get up and move until she...
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