Life Criticism

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Bessie Head's body of work centers around village and family life, the African tradition, and the problems that women encounter in society; the themes in her novels and short stories display significant overlap. The stories in The Collector of Treasures (1977), from which "Life" is taken, raise a myriad of issues, but most explore good and evil and the mistreatment of women in village life. Unlike Head's novels, which have a clear didactic purpose, in her short stories "the distinction between right and wrong," writes Greta D. Little in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, "is never clear."

Head arranged the sequence of the stories to "reenact" the history of the African people from ancient times to colonialism to contemporary society. As such, Head is especially interested in African traditions, such as mythology, tribal witchcraft, and oral storytelling, oftentimes in juxtaposition with the demands of modern culture. "[E]ach story...

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This section contains 687 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Life Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
Life from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.