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The City as Trope: Snapshots of the Urban Experience in Alex La Guma’s <i>A Walk In The Night</i>

EE Igbifa


In A Walk in the Night, Alex La Guma holds aloft, for his readers, a portrait of slum life in urban South Africa at a particular historical moment. Depicted on La Guma’s novelistic canvas is a life which bears too frightening a resemblance to Thomas Hobbes “state of nature.” This essay attempts to establish a causal connection between the brutishness, nastiness, shortness and solitariness which characterize the lives of La Guma’s characters, and the cheerless, filthy and insalubrious physical surroundings in which these characters find themselves. By highlighting some of the many tropes which La Guma employs in the realization of his grim portrait of urban life, the essay validates the literariness of La Guma’s work. The essay insinuates, in conclusion, that La Guma’s narrative is animated by the consequential link the people and places in it.

Key words: Alex La Guma, A Walk in the Night, the Urban Novel, the South African Novel, Apartheid

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eISSN: 2227-5460
print ISSN: 2225-8604