The Dark Child - TheDark Childis Camara Laye's autobiograph...

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The Dark  Child  is  Camara  Laye's  autobiograph y, tracing the  development  of his cultural  and personal  values as a  young man  coming of  age within the  Malinke tribe  of Upper  Guinea  during the  1930's. After  his death,  Guinean  writer  Camara Laye  was rightfully  acclaimed  by  The New  York Times  Book Review  as  “his  continent's  preeminent  novelist.” He  is the author  of several  well-known  pieces of  literature, the  most widely- read and  taught  being  The  Dark  Child  (1954)  and  The  African  Child  (1953,  translated in  1955 into  English). No where in  his  autobiograph y do we see 
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evidence of  the primitive,  dark,  "uncivilized"  culture of  Africa as  depicted in  classic  colonial  works like  Conrad's  He art of  Darkness, but  instead  encounter a  quiet, solid,  emotionally- scaffolded  narrative, in  the context of  sophisticated  nonfiction  that calmly  relays  milestones in  the author's  childhood  and young  adult  experience.  Both the  supernatural  realm and  traditional  Muslim  religion are  depicted as  minor  characters  orchestrating  Laye's  evolution  from young  boy to "adult  male" and  provide a rich  backstory to  the narrative. One of the  more  poignant  descriptions  in the book  occurs about  midway  through the  biography,  with Laye's  tale of his  tribal initiation  into manhood  by enduring 
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the  circumcision  ritual during  his earlier  teen  (approximatel y 14-15)  years. He  participates in  a festival  consisting of  public and  private  ceremonies  for "several  days" and  later a period  of physical  healing and  recovery from  the  circumcision  itself for over  one month  (Laye 112,  130). Laye  spends his  days of  recovery  lounging on a  mat with the  other young  men, isolated  from his  family for the  most part,  allowed only  to visit with  his mother  and father  from a  distance  between the  end of the  ceremony  and the day  he is able to  walk home  comfortably  (130-132).  Upon his  return, he is  moved to his  own hut,  separated  from his  mother and  father though,  "still within  earshot" of  the family 
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hut, as his  mother tartly  reminds him  (134). Here  the  separation  between  parent and  child evoke a  felt sense of  the anxiety  present as  Laye accepts  his hut and  new "men's  clothes" with  quiet  gratitude  (134). This  pivotal scene  closes with  Laye turning  to his mother  to thank her,  who he finds  standing  quietly behind  him, "smiling  at [him]  sadly" (135).
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Shortly after  moving into  his hut, Laye  leaves at 15  years of age  to attend  "Ecole  Georges 
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This note was uploaded on 11/19/2011 for the course AFRICANA 101 taught by Professor Ollideo during the Spring '11 term at Rutgers.

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The Dark Child - TheDark Childis Camara Laye's autobiograph...

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