Passage to Africa

Topics: Face, Faces, Emotion Pages: 6 (2277 words) Published: September 22, 2012
A Passage To Africa. (Narrative Article, Literary Analysis)
A Passage To Africa is a moving, touching account of what George Alagiah felt and experienced in a small town in Africa, and the beauty and intensity of emotion lies, not only in the message behind it, but also in every word of every sentence in this article. The title itself is significant. The noun ‘Passage’ is ambiguous; of course the obvious meaning would be that the following is an extract, a piece of writing. But it could also be interpreted as a path, a way, a journey to Africa. Also the use of the word ‘to’ imply that the passage is not a mere informative work on Africa, but a dedication to the country. The beginning of the passage is a one sentence introductory paragraph starting with a series of adjectives in rapid succession: ‘thousand, hungry, lean, scared and betrayed faces.’ Showing the turmoil of emotions the author felt, unable to pin down the description of the faces in one word, it also evokes at once the curiosity of the reader a well as lays the ground work for the setting: a general picture of death and disease form in one’s mind. The use of the noun ‘faces’, not names, not people, but ‘faces’ shows the impersonal detachment of the author. They aren’t human beings to him; they are just faces, just surfaces and expressions. This is emphasized in the ending of the sentence: ‘…but there is one I will never forget.’ Along with informing us about a meeting which was so exceptional that the author cannot forget it, it also implies that the rest of the death and suffering he sees around him are very much forgettable and don’t really affect him. The setting is cemented in the second paragraph: the use of the archaic noun ‘hamlet’ to describe the small village, the hyperbole ‘back of beyond’, the fact that agencies cannot reach that village, the long sentence giving directions of how to reach there, the dash before further elaborating on the bleak picture and the use of the simile comparing the place to a ‘ghost village’; all convey the isolation of the village, it’s detachment from the rest of the world, along with giving the reader a sense of the unnatural death and disease which surrounds the settlement like an ever present aura. We find out in the third paragraph what the journalists are doing in such a village. They are looking for pictures for their newspaper. The writer’s disgust at his own job shows in the way he describes their job as a ‘ghoulish hunt’ in which they ‘trample huts’ looking for ‘striking pictures.’ These words refer indirectly to the prey/predator metaphor, where the journalists are the searchers, the ferocious and ruthless hunters looking for ways to exploit the suffering and deaths of the village locals, who become the helpless victim which covers and trembles before the mightier being. This simultaneous degradation of the village people and elevation of the journalists is ironical as it proves that in the author’s mind it is the village people who are above them as he views himself as nothing more than a relentless animalistic hunter who is following a trail. This feeling of revulsion which the hunter feels towards himself is further shown in the ellipses in ‘my cameraman… and I’ as if he hesitates a little, out of shame and self-disgust, before admitting that he too was involved. This hatred that he harbors for his own feelings is explained when he admits that all those things that might have appalled him before don’t even leave an impression on him now, showing how his job is changing him, making him harder, more cynical and detached. Pathos and pity is evoked in the reader by the next paragraph, its impact strengthened by the use of names as the plight of two daughters and their mother is described. The anaphora in ‘no rage, no whimpering’, the dash followed by adjectives such as ‘motionless, simple and frictionless’; all are used to diminish death, as if it is a matter of no importance or significance, an everyday...
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