Narrative Techniques used in “FACELESS” Novel

Comment on the significance/importance of any of the narrative techniques in the novel.

(i) Use of dialogue. (ii) Use of Anecdote (iii) Use of humour (iv) Use of suspense (v) Use of irony, (vi) Flash back.


Thu use of Dialogue is a prominent feature of the novel. The narration of events and indeed the unfolding of the plot of the novel is sustained through dialogue. This makes the story more dramatic in most cases For instance, Kabria and Adade, tier husband argue about tine rickety nature of tier VW Beetle, Creamy; when she tells her husband to help out he asks, “Don’t you receive salary?” Adade asked,

“Don’t get sarcastic with me, if I had the time to study further as you did, I would also have been leaping the benefits. …but I was busy making babies then. Remember?” This, and many more examples of dialogue help to sustain the theme of the novel. Thus, between Maa Tsuru and Fofo, Naa Yomo and Maa Tsuru, Fofo and Baby T., Kabria and members of her family, Onko and the juju man, Kabria and Fofo, Dma and her workers Sylv Po and Kamame and Kabria and Fofo etc. It is endless but these sustain the storyline.


The quality of this story is enhanced through the use of anecdotes. Several instances are given elaborate attention through story telling. Naa Yomo is the Chief story teller in most cases. She tells the story of why God created forgetfulness which she says is because of ‘labour pain” (p.92). In her story she reveals that Maa Tsuru’s mother cursed her husband. The man had impregnated her and denied over knowing her. In her anguish, she curses the young man and his entire descendants. This, according to Naa Yomo is the genesis of the curse which has trailed Maa Tsuru, the product of that illicit relationship. This curse trails every other character in the story that has any connection or relationship with Maa Tsuru and her offsprings.

Naa Yomo tells of how her husband shook hands with Sir Gordon, the governor of Gold Coast then. Thus, she is the reservoir of ancient wisdom and she gladly tells anyone who cares to listen, the depth of her understanding. Poison tells his own story with street girls and his partners in crime like Mama Abidjan and Maami Broni. The story of the street girl, killed, mutilated and dumped behind a Kiosk at Agbogbloshie market is one of such gory tales.


Though incidents in the novel are pathetic and indeed tragic, the infusion of comic elements adds humour to the injured minds. In a chat with Sylv Po, a caller who chooses to speak anonymously says, “…Ah! Why? What make dis blo-blo thing you talking me like dat?” (p.114). This grammatical abuse no doubt creates humour.

Kabria, for instance, talks to her worn-out Volks Wagen Beetle, “Creamy”, as if she is talking to a person. Sometimes, she pleads with the car to cooperate. This, indeed is fun, considering the “Tu-tu-tu-tu…” noise from the engine and exhaust of Creamy and the “bits and pieces” colour comprising blue, metallic sea blue etc. That alone is odd and funny.

Besides, after Kwei had taken enough Akpeteshie, he invites Maa Tsuru, locks her up, pounds her heavily and leaves her with bruises. She runs to her uncle who promises to teach Kwei a lesson. He goes to get himself battle ready, goes to drinking joint, takes more than enough local gin; goes home to change his blue shorts to red because “my eyes are red”. Coming out, he vomits, falls on it and sleeps off. (p.124).


The whole story is full of suspense technique. Kabria’s several encounters with her Beetles create suspense especially the encounter with the traffic officer when the car packed up as the green lights came on.

At Agbogbloshie, Kabria encounters an angry mob, anxious to kill a little boy who steals her (Kabria’s) purse. She saves the boy only to discover that she is a girl “Fofo”. In the office, Kabria, Diria, Aggie and Fofo scamper at the mere mention of Police. Fob later confirms that there is no police.

When Maa Tsuru goes to confront Kwei for keeping another woman, possessing her husband, the bloated woman tells lies to Kwei who invites Maa Tsuru to talk things over. As she enters his room, he locks her in, goes out, drinks off his head and comes back to design Maa Tsuru’s face with bruises. Even Maa Tsuru’s uncle who comes to her rescue creates more suspense. He too goes to drink until his eyes turn red. Next, he throws up and falls with his face on his vomit, he sleeps on it for five hours. Kwei is even more surprised because his intention to kick out Maa Tsuru’s pregnancy for him with those punches has been in vain as the pregnancy continues to grow.

Mention must also be made of the circumstance surrounding the brutal death of Baby T. Poison commands her to meet Onko and she refuses. For daring the “Lord of the streets’ she is beaten to death with Poison’s leather belt. Onko, on his part, creates suspense too. He invites Baby T into his room, locks the door and pushes her to his bed. After raping her, his business begins to dwindle. He consults a juju man who prescribes several items for sacrifice including Baby T’s pubic hairs to ward off her spirit. As his efforts fail, he commits suicide.

Above all, Fofo’s encounter with the “faceless” man, suspected to be Poison is a source of suspense. The stranger tries to rape her but she kicks with all her strength at the intruder’s groin and he flees. Even the night Kpakpo sexually assaults Baby T in their house, Fofo melts in surprise. She makes up her mind to tell the good man, Onko, about it. However, Onko takes advantage of this to have his own share. Indeed, the story is full of suspense.


It is the sole responsibility of parents to take care of their children. However, the reverse is the case as most children, are forced into child prostitution and street begging to help in the upkeep of the family. There s this story of the mad man called Boolaso. He feeds from the gutter and refuse dumps. One Easter Monday, a kind-hearted woman tries to practice what has been preached to her about feeding the poor. She prepares a plate of home-cooked food to Boolaso. After eating, he begins to hit his stomach, then he throws up.

Another is the typical African woman who apparently satisfied with her skin goes to bleach. Having carried out her intention, God visits her with fury such that her entire body is covered with different colours, making her a multi-coloured being.

Also, Kwei invites Maa Tsuru, asks her to wait. He goes out to drink and on returning, beast her mercilessly claiming to be Dr. Kwei who singlehandedly terminates a pregnancy. Ironically, rather than terminate the pregnancy he wants to run away from, the pregnancy grows in leaps and bounds. Even Maa Tsuru’s uncle goes to drink to enable him to fight Kwei, he ends up falling and sleeping on his vomit.


This is perhaps one of the most narrative techniques in the story. Naa Yomo’s account of the genesis of Maa Tsuru’s curse is a typical example of the flashback technique. Through the lucid account, it is seen that Maa Tsuru’s mother is impregnated by an irresponsible man who denies her and her pregnancy. In the agony of her labour, she places a curse on him and his entire descendants. This is the curse that trails Maa Tsuru, her children, Fofo and Baby T, likewise those who mingle with them, e.g. Kwei, Onko etc.

Through flashback, we are informed of the dwindling fortunes of Onko in his welding business. This happens after he sexually abuses Baby T. He goes to a juju man to seek remedy. When his efforts fail, he commits suicide.

Even the role of Kpakpo in the brutal death of Baby T, Mama Ahidjan and Maami Broni’s connection as well as Poison’s role comes to the fore through flashback. Above all, Naa Yomo tells us about her husband’s encounter with the then governor of Gold Coast (Ghana), Sir Gordon, who shakes hands with him.

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