African ProseArt and Literature

Literary Devices and Figures of Speech in The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born

Figures of Speech in The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born will be analysed in this post. Thus, the literary devices will also be considered.

Analysis of the Figures of Speech used in Beautyful One’s are not yet born.

Ayi Kwei Armah spells out this novel’s themes, illustrates the traits of its characters and traces out its settings with the devices of omniscient narrator, analogy, authoral intrusion, biblical allusion, carricature, contrast, flashback, innuendo, irony, metonymy, paradox and sarcasm.


The use of the Omniscient narrator device in Beautyful One’s are not yet born.

The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born was narrated from the perspective of an omniscient narrator. Remember that, the omniscient narrator is a writer that sees and writes everything on a subject matter, including how he or she too is a part of that subject matter. In this novel, the narrator was a middle rank civil servant at Ghana’s Ports and Railway Administration Department. His eyes were on himself, his junior, his mates and his seniors at the same place of work. So, he was able to point out the extent to which Ghanaian workers’ habits of “fraud” and “bribe-taking” brought down the first Ghanaian led government.

Equally, his eyes were on Ghanaian rich and poor families, including his own family. As the narrator, he bore no specific name. He was simply called “The Man”. And “The Man” was a real omniscient narrator. He did not fail to give himself a selfcriticism. Of course, he used himself as the example of the youths who did not plan very well for future. This was when he regretted how he impregnated Oyo after his A secondary school education and the eventual pre-mature marriage that followed. In short, it was from this device of omniscient narration that we really saw that no Ghanaian could be cleared from the mess experienced by Ghana. Consequently, Armah is of the opinion that every Ghanaian must put hands on the deck to clear the mess. Every Ghanaian must strive to be “beautyful” to make everything work “beautyfully” in Ghana.

The use of the Analogy in Beautyful One’s are not yet born

This device is used in three instances in chapters 5, 7 and 13. The one in chapter 5 is where Oyo had compared the habit of getting rich quick to “the art of driving a car at a fast speed without minding whether accidents would happen or not”. The analogy indicates that those who practise corruption are desperate people.

The use of the Authoral Intrusion in Beautyful One’s are not yet born.

The device is used only once in chapter 11. This is the comment made by that taxi-driver who carries “The Man” and Oyo to Esikafo Aba Estates to meet Mn and Mrs. Joseph Koomson. The taxi-driver observes that Ghanaians are too fond of buying expensive imported cars, without making anything for export. Here, Armah is saying that a country which economy is totally import-based cannot develop.

The use of the Biblical Allusion in Beautyful One’s are not yet born.

Biblical allusion is used in Chapter 7. This is where “The Man” is complaining to his friend “Teacher” that people always sing the praises of corrupt and dishonest politicians in the way Christians sing adoration to our Saviour Jesus Christ. The biblical allusion is indicating that the masses of people of Ghana were too gullible and sentimental. They were not in anyway critical of their oppressive leaders.

The use of the Carricature in Beautyful One’s are not yet born.

The device is used in Chapter 6. This is the jest which one Mr. Etse always makes about the selfishness of African leaders. The jests always become carricatural because people derive entertainments, in the long run.

The use of Contrast in Beautyful One’s are not yet born.

The device of contrast is used once in Chapter 13. After the coup had been staged, Mr. Koomson became powerless and was full of fear So, he ran to “The Man’s” house for safety. This contrasted sharply to the mood of confidence with which he was filled, the first time he visited “The Man”. With this contrast, Armah is pointing out that “no leader of men can hold power for ever.”

The use of Flashback in Beautyful One’s are not yet born.

Armah uses the device of flashback in Chapters 5 and 6.

In Chapter 5, he recalled how frustration set into the lives of the Ghanaians that fought during the Second World War.

In chapter 6, Armah recalled how they were always fascinated by the picture of “a man-child” which Aboliga, his classmate in Standard Five, used to show them. The “man-child” was a creature that went through stages of birth, growth and death within a seven-year period. The flashback is an indication that “anything acquired through corruption never last long.”

Analysis of the Figures of Speech used in Beautyful One’s are not yet born.

In this section, we shall be taking a closer look to the figures of speech used in The Beautyful One’s are not yet born.

The use of Innuendo in Beautyful One’s are not yet born.

There are instances of the use of innuendoes in Chapters 9 and 10.

In chapter 9, the innuendo occurs when Oyo’s mother wants to abuse her son-in-law in the presence of his children. The time was about 6 0’clock in the evening and Oyo’s mother had asked the visiting children, if they had eaten breakfast.


Indirectly, the woman is just telling the children that their father (i.e. her son-in-law) is too poor.

The instance in chapter 10 is about the joke cracked by Minister Joseph Koomson about one lecture given by a Professor to the Ministers in the Government of Ghana. Mr. Koomson had said that while the Professor was making the essential points to them, the Ministers were all asleep. But when it was time for refreshment the Ministers were all awake. This joke is “an indirect acceptance of failure by African leaders”. For instance, the leaders know what to do to improve the lives of their subjects. But they are not doing it because of their selfishness.

The use of Irony in Beautyful One’s are not yet born.

There is just an instance of the use of the device of irony in the novel. It is in chapter 13 where “The Man” assisted Minister Joseph Koomson to escape arrest in his house. During the escape bid, Minister Koomson is forced to crawl out of the latrine shit-bucket hole of “The Man’s” house into the bush path at the back of the house. Ironically, this was the same latrine which the Minister Koomson had refused to just lower his anus to pass excreta at the time he was a powerful Minister during a visit to “The Man”.

The use of Metonymy in Beautyful One’s are not yet born.

This device is used in chapter 4. The metonymy occurs in the way “The Man” refers to his friend and confidant as “Teacher”. This is metonymy because the name can be taken as counsellor or adviser.

The use of Pardox in Beautyful One’s are not yet born.

Paradox is used in Chapter 4. This is when Oyo compares her husband (i.e. “The Man”) to the chichidodo bird for his refusal to take bribe in his office.

According to Oyo, “the chichidodo bird hates excreta, but its best food is the maggot which is only available in the latrine. In other words, Oyo’s opinion is that “if her husband wants to improve their poor condition of living, as a poorly paid civil servant, hecannot be rejecting bribes”.

The use of Sarcasm in Beautyful One’s are not yet born.

Sarcasm occurs only in Chapter 12. This is where “The Man” tries to convince Oyo (i.e. his wife) that Minister Joseph Koomson is “playing politics with the issue of the fishing boat for Oyo’s mother. “The Man” is actually telling Oyo that Minister Koomson is using his big position to fool her mother. Of course, “The Man” is proved correct as Minister Koomson shortchanged Oyo’s mother by pocketing the loan obtained in Oyo’s mother’s name for buying a fishing-boat. Even when he uses his big position to steal one of the government’s fishing-boats, he fixes the boat in his daughter’s name.

The use of Symbolysm in Beautyful One’s are not yet born.

The phrase “beautyful ones” in the title of the book is the instance of symbolism. The phrase indicates the “right people”. Therefore, the symbolism is a piece of lamentation by Ayi Kwei Armah that ‘the right people” did not set off Ghana’s post independent civil government.

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Davidposh of Campusvibes

I'm a dedicated and progressive individual with an exceptional work ethic and client oriented service aptitude. I write to inform and educate. Currently I'm an English language students Lagos State University.

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