“Body of a Lion, Head of a Soldier”: The Grotesque in Uzodinma Iweala’s Beasts of No Nation
Keywords:grotesque, child soldier, Uzodinma Iweala, Beasts of No Nation
Beasts of No Nation (2005) is a novel that invites attention to the plight of child soldiers. The protagonist of the novel, Agu, enjoyed an ideal life as a child with his family and always wished to go through traditional initiation as well as formal education before he was forcibly enlisted as a child soldier. At the battlefront, Agu engages in different types of violence and suffers various forms of abuse, which do not only cause him to lose his childhood but also his humanity, depictions of which draw the narrative into the mode of the grotesque. This article looks at how Uzodinma Iweala creates the picture of the child soldier through animal and bodily images to bring out the ambivalent nature of the child soldier as one caught between life and death, human and beast as well as between child and adult, through the grotesque, which brings up new concepts that are between life and death, fantasy and reality. The paper argues that the grotesque is of central importance to Iweala’s treatment of his central subject, namely, distorted personal development as a result of war. That is, the grotesque is not a chosen mode, but it is the inhuman depiction of the child soldier that draws the narrative into the grotesque mode.
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