ETHNOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS OF ROUND CHARACTERS’ ONOMASTICS IN WOLE SOYINKA’S DEATH AND THE KING’S HORSEMAN

Idowu Odebode

Abstract


This study examines Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman from an ethnography of communication’s point of view. The work is designed to break the silence on the dearth of onomastic studies on Soyinka. The playwright infuses his novel with onomastic sensibility such that the names reflect different socio-cultural backgrounds, and, in turn, stress the themes of death and scapegoatism raised in the text. The study further reveals that conversation genre is a major tool which the author has manipulated successfully in exercising his naming power over his characters. In addition, it is clear that informing is the principal illocutionary act underlying all the names. These therefore imply that the playwright is both conversing with and informing his reader/audience through his naming strategies. This is so because there is economy of words in naming and, oftentimes, more is being communicated than said through the few strands of letters woven together as a name. The study finally affirms that names are “identity markers that depend on established convention” (Adams 2009, p. 82) and “whatever difference exists between literature and life can be explained as a difference of the contexts in which naming takes place” (Izevbaye 1981, p. 168).

 

Keywords: Wole Soyinka, horseman, ethnography, onomastics


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