Irony, Syntax And Imagery In Adichie’s Jumping Monkey Hill

In the short story Jumping Monkey Hill, Adichie uses irony, syntax and imagery to reveal the struggle of true western women in a mixed environment to prove the point that many of the immigrants feel out of place in America and it’s causing them to be ashamed of being assertive, making it harder to become their true selves in their new home. There are many western women who happen to stand out and have to deal with the white men who take it upon themselves to dictate the experiences of Africans. In this short story, non-African people have this made-up image of Africa, and the experiences and hardships of many Africans are often told for them instead of having them be told by them. Irony is first in the title of the short story, the chapter is called “Jumping Monkey Hill”, as we get further into reading the story we realize that there are no “jumping monkeys” Jumping Monkey Hill is really just a resort designed to the expectations of what most people assume is “African culture”.

In the story irony is displayed when the character says, “You wanted to feel disdain, to show it as you brought his order, because white people who liked Africa too much and...liked Africa too little were the same- condescending”, this quote explains how different groups have the same idea about the fact that everyone wants to like African culture based off of stuff they have heard about instead of actually trying to get to learn more about the culture. Irony is also seen in the part where Edward tells the people to try the meal made with ostrich, Ujanwa had been taken aback by the fact that people ate ostrich, but Edward, a white man, who really knows nothing about true African culture told her that it was an “African staple”, this part was very ironic because Edward was explaining an “African dish” to an African woman. Through this interaction, we see what the Europeans (whites) try to assume what authentic African dishes are.

The experiences of African women in this story are frequently dictated by Edward, a white male, who feels as though he knows enough about African culture to speak on their experiences and hardships that they face. “This may indeed be the year 2000, but how African it is for a person to tell her family that she is homosexual?”, the author chooses to use syntax as a literary device, in this quote Edward is speaking to a Senegalese writer that would really like to write about her experiences as an African woman who also happens to be a lesbian, the main obstacle that is stopping her from writing happens to be Edward who feels as though it's his role to dictate what is reflective of the African experience. This Senegalese writer wants to tell her story from her point of view, and her struggles of being a homosexual in African society, but the importance of her identity is being constantly undermined by Edwards and his estranged views about what African culture is.

Adichie’s use of syntax, irony, and imagery allows us to acknowledge the stereotypes and micro-aggression that Africans both in the book and in real life have to endure. The African characters in the story have their experiences shunned away being made unimportant making it hard to speak up against the microaggressions aimed at the African community. In this story, we were introduced to the very false views of African culture and experiences. 

09 March 2021
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