Quest for Recognition and Freedom: An Archetypal Study of Helon Habila's Oil on Water

  • Chibuzo Onunkwo
  • Ejiofor Udu Nwogwu
  • Theodora Ojiakor


Oil on Water is Helon Habilla's third novel, published in 2010. It has, like his other works, attracted a handful of attention ranging from reviews, commentaries to critical essays. Much of this attention is sociologically and eco-critically oriented, in terms of the truth of environmental degradation in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria and the accompanying restive activities by youths of the region. This essay seeks to take a different approach at studying the text. It proposes, contrary to other approaches, to look at the text at the mythic level, that is, the level where literature stands out from not-literature. Precisely, it attempts to discuss the novel as a quest narrative using archetypal criticism as the theoretical frame. This theoretical approach differs from other approaches that have been used in the study of this novel in that it is essentially a text oriented approach.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1813-2227