A content analysis of fourteen Nigerian young adult novels



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Purpose of the Study. The purpose of this study was, in essence, to come out with a composite picture of the Nigerian young adult novel. This goal was achieved through an in depth content analysis of fourteen Nigerian junior novels. Findings of the Study. Twelve content questions were posited to be looked into in the novels. It was found that the Nigerian junior novel, in the main, has a didactical bent because it hits at the core of traditional African education-character development. It also mirrors developmental tasks of Nigerian youth: discovering his sex role, developing new relationships with people his own age, achieving an easy relationship with members of the opposite sex, accepting his physical body, changing his relationship with his parents, working for pay, finding a vocation, becoming aware of his value patterns, and learning to accept the finality of death. Each of the fourteen novels deals with one or more of the aforementioned tasks. All the fourteen Nigerian young adult novels have a common locale-Nigeria. They deal with contemporary issues and problems primarily rooted in the Nigerian adolescent world. There seems to be some rigidity in technique. This junior novel is generally shorter than the adult novel and the third person point of view narration features prominently and there is little, if any, switching of that viewpoint. Only Ekwensi's Juju Rock is narrated from the first person point of view in this study. While some of the novels like The Drummer Boy and Adewoye's The Betrayer are bluntly didactic, some, like Oguntoye's Too Cold for Comfort and Areo's The Hopeful Lovers, have enough indications to make the reader conclude that they are didactic. Nigerian junior novels depict action mainly on a physical plane rather than emphasizing the psychological state of a character. Such a stance partly causes the paper thin nature of the adolescent and adult characters in the novel instead of fiull roundedness of character. The action in all the novels for this study progresses in a chronological manner rather than through flashbacks or views of events yet to happen. The plot is of both character and incident. The virtual absence of complex sentences, literary allusions, or complex literary symbolism in these novels makes the style, in general, quite simple and easy to read for the Nigerian high school student. Conclusions. This dissertation, which is the first extensive and sustained scholarly work on the Nigerian junior novel, comes out with a composite picture of what the contemporary Nigerian junior novel is. The dissertation is, at best, a major stepping stone on a scholarly path that critically examines the new phenomenon of young adult books in Nigeria. Like the junior novel in the United States, the forte of the Nigerian junior novel is in the area of personal and family problems. The major interest in these novels is in the content. Local and pedagogical in content and in orientation, the Nigerian junior novel touches the lives of Nigerian youths. It differs from contemporary American junior novels in its hardline moral stance. It essentially presents literature as a vision of life which the adolescent can readily understand, and not a complex mass of information experientially irrelevant to Nigerian youths. The novels make literature meaningful, at least to the Nigerian adolescent, by making contact with cultural values, social functions, and individual lives. To do less makes literature irrelevant in a Nigeria that cannot afford any more irrelevancies.



Nigerian literature, Young adults, Nigeria