Techniques in the Lonely Days

Comment vividly on the use of narrative techniques in the novel.


The use of flashback technique is central in the novel. The death of Ajumobi is known through flashbacks and Yaremi recalls his peaceful transition as she is the last human being Ajumobi saw before closing his eyes. Again, Yaremi tells Woye several stories, among such stories is her childhood days and work habit. This is captured in this excerpt: “Many years ago at Adeyipo, when I was a little child like you…” (p.9). The widows, Dedewe, Radeke and Fayoyin also recount their experiences as they advise Yaremi about the need to remarry. Even Yaremi’s taffeta business gets known through flashbacks. Also, through flashbacks, the children of Yaremi, Segi, Wura and Alani and her grandson, Woye are known. We are told of Ajumobi’s large estates through Uncle Deyo who thinks Alani is a “freak” for not caring about his father’s estates. This becomes known through the flashback technique. Therefore flashback is a major narrative technique in the novel.


This is another prominent narrative technique used to drive the plot of the novel. All through the novel, Yaremi is busy teaching her grandson virtues of hard work, seriousness, courage, honesty etc., through stories. The young man indeed enjoys listening to such anecdotes (stories). Whenever she wants Woye to do work, she tells one beautiful story such as the story of the moon and why the moon now hangs permanently in the sky. She tells the story of the “animal world” where the blind earthworm digs a vertical trench to hide from his enemies.


To ease frustration and tension thereby creating humour, certain expressions are used. Ajumobi’s stammering habit especially when provoked creates humour/comic relief. Even little Woye who boasts of his property creates humour. When the bag is brought, scraps of papers, some buba cloths, and knickers, pieces of chalk, his catapult and pieces of stone and two live cockroaches are seen. This is indeed humorous.


This is another significant narrative technique. During the quarrel between Yaremi and Ajumobi, there is element of suspense because as Ajumobi attempts to beat her, she runs away and while standing akimbo, she would challenge Ajurnobi to conic and face her power- her razor tongue. The visit of the widows to Yaremi creates suspense. After talking to her about the Cap-picking ceremony, Yaremi’s uncertainty heightens. The suspense is sustained during the Cap-picking ceremony. Ayanwale, Olonade and Lanwa are hopeful that Yaremi will pick a cap. Everyone watches her as she approaches the caps displayed on the bench, and one by one she rejects all of them. The mention of Woye’s property creates suspense and humour. Alani comes with news and the mother is eager to hear it. Uncle Deyo rains abuses on Alani and one expects that he will react negatively but he does not.

Finally, the people of Kufi resolve to ostracize Yaremi for violating their custom. What happened? She dares the people.


Language is an important tool of communication, Lonely days is a mixture of simple, complex and indeed figurative language. First and foremost, the language is simple to understand. The plot is further enhanced by the use of figurative expressions such as simile, metaphor and rhetorical questions. For instance, Yaremi makes the following statements during little fracas with Ajumobi, “our tongues are hot like fire in a furnance, restive like a tornado,…sharp like ground pepper…deadly like the venom of a wounded snake’ (simile). “My tongue is a double-edged knife,’ metaphor.

The use of anecdotes equally enhance the development of the plot as most stories convey the true pictures of widowhood practice. Besides, rhetorical questions are commonly used: “Where are you now, Ajumobi? “…why did you go away… leaving me in the cold? Did I offend you? Is my sin beyond pardon? etc. All these unanswered questions create suspense and heighten the impact of the narrative.

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