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The structural elements of proverbs, repetition, and interruption are the principal artistic characteristics in Munir Muhammad Katsina’s Zab’i Naka. Both of these facets work together and combine to transform this story from something ordinary to something extraordinary. They cause this piece to produce meaning and emotion. There are numerous proverbs in Zab’i Naka. They tend to force the reader into the story and make it apply to his or her own life. For instance, the proverb “A suit of armor cannot even prevent the arrow of fate from finding its mark” makes me reflect on my life.

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It causes me to think about how some of the events in my life were bound to happen, no matter what I tried to do to prevent their occurrence. The proverbs throughout the story have a similar effect on me, the reader. They draw me into the story and compel me to relate them to my life. The proverbs also startle and interrupt the tale. The reader is going along reading the narrative, and then all of a sudden, the author interjects with a proverb out of the blue. It is an authorial intrusion, and the author is all of a sudden right in the reader’s face.

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The proverb tends to pull the reader in and make him or her think about it in the context of the story. For example, the story is discussing the situation in the hospital where the poor people have to wait for hours, but anyone with money or power is escorted by the doctor straight into, and later out of, the examining room. Then, the author throws in the proverb, “The one in the shade doesn’t know the one who is in the sun. ” The hospital scene has nothing to do with sun or shade.

Yet, if the reader relates the proverb to the context of the story, he or she might come to the conclusion that “the one in the shade” is really a metaphor for a poor person and “the one who is in the sun” is referring to a rich person. Therefore, the proverb can pull the reader in and make him or her relate it to the context of the story. The proverb can also work to push the reader away because it does disrupt the natural flow of the story. Rather than continuing on with discussing the hospital scene, the author interrupts the story with a proverb.

Thus, the proverbs can have the duality of both pulling the reader in and pushing the reader away. The many proverbs play an important structural role in the tale. Although there are a lot of proverbs in Zab’i Naka, they are absent from end of the story. They seem to stop when the war starts. The proverbs form a skeleton of part of the story. They are very packed in, and a very prominent feature of the structure in the beginning. The complete absence of them in the end drastically changes the composition, consequently changing the emotion of the story.

The absence of the proverbs makes the story keep going on without them acting to pull the reader in or push the reader away. The proverbs, and lack thereof, shape the meaning and emotions of the piece. The numerous proverbs in the story create a pattern and rhythm through repetition. The pattern goes from the story to a blunt interruption through a proverb, and then back to the story once again. This pattern repeats throughout the tale, but the end of the story has no proverbs. This generates a break in the pattern and rhythm.


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Kylie Garcia

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