I agree with the statement above, “There are many similarities between ‘Looking for a rain god’ and ‘Veronica’. Both of the stories are written in a way that draws the reader into the stories picture, the other similarity is that of the themes. The themes, which the two stories include, are those of poverty, isolation, death and helplessness. Both stories are set in countries and places, which are far removed from ours in distance and culture adding to the similarities between the two.
However these themes are presented in different ways, both giving a similar impression. There is a mixture of key elements, which make the two stories differ in the way they are presented; in structure, characterisation, use of language and dialogue. These differences are used to give us the reader a diverse and greater understanding of how the separate themes work in the different stories.
As in all good stories themes are used help us to understand the characters and the author on a deeper level.
The most evident theme in ‘Veronica’ and ‘Looking For A Rain God’ is that of isolation and distance. The land, which Bessie Head (writer of ‘Looking For A rain God’) describes, is one that is cut off from the rest of the world and ultimately lonely.
The opening line conveys this well
” It is lonely at the lands where people go to plough”
Bessie Head (The writer of ‘Looking For A Rain God’) uses the first paragraph to set a scene of distance and isolation.
This is done to try to help us gain insight and understand the situation and characters. Adewale Maja-Pearce or Okeke (The writer of ‘Veronica) also tries to use the theme of isolation and distance to help understand the story better. Although in contrast to ‘Looking For A Rain God’ it is for a more personal reason, partly to understand his friends actions. When Okeke returns to Veronica for the first time after becoming a doctor he is shocked at how little has changed. Veronica is not so shocked and although her words may sound accusing they in fact reveal a level of understanding of her isolation.
She says simply to Okeke
” I am still here, as you left me.”
The writers have been brought up in areas distant to ours and the western world. The isolation they talk about seems shocking and extreme to us, but the writers are more concerned with the effects of living in isolation.
This isolation that both writers try to tackle brings about a helplessness they both feel towards the different situations. In ‘Veronica’ Okeke is about to move away to the city and wants Veronica to follow him there as he feels helpless to the fact she is stuck in a constant cycle of unhappiness. He tries to persuade her to come with him, but there is always something standing in the way.
When asked to come to the city she replies sharply
“No, the city is for you, not me. What will I do once I get there? I have no qualifications, not even Standard Six.”
This is in contrast to LFARG as it seems like there is no solution to the seven year drought. Bessie talks about how such a tiny village who’s economy relies solely on farming as the main source of money can suffer. She writes about the helplessness and growing concern ” No one knew what to do to escape the heat and tragedy that was in the air”
The themes in both stories help to mould the tone, making it solemn and remorseful. The stories carry such a tone because both narrators perhaps feel an underlining guilt for what happened, accompanied by a feeling that they would not have acted differently if it had happened to them.
Bessie Head makes her views clear when she writes
“But all people who lived off crops knew in their hearts that only a hairs’ breadth saved them from sharing a similar fate.”
In Veronica to the scene where Veronica refuses to go to the city, the writer admits that he understood her point of view.
But he was still resentful as he writes
” Although I knew there was a lot of truth in what she said I resented her arguments.”
There is a similar setting in ‘Veronica’ and ‘Looking For A Rain God’ which may explain why they share many prominent themes. This can be explained due to the fact that they are both stories taken from writers who have lived in an isolated and distant place. But this can over shadow the fact that both stories differ greatly in how they present similar but vastly different ideas.
The structure is very different in the ‘Looking For A Rain God’ to ‘Veronica’. Bessie Head writes the story from a third person narrative and is describes a villagers view of story, which gives us a wider insight. ‘Looking For A Rain God’ is split into three sections; the first creates a background to the story and a short image of what life is like, the second tells the story of the family, finally the third analyses what has happened and portrays its effect on the village. ‘Veronica’, in comparison, is not so complicated in structure; instead it focuses solely on the relationship between the writer and Veronica, ending in her death. The story is mainly told using dialogue and a bit of narrative, it is written only in the first person. The use of dialogue seperates the two stories, as it gives Veronica an added depth to the characters and leaves more to be interpreted by the reader.
The language in ‘Looking For A Rain God’ compared to ‘Veronica’ is far richer, describing in detail the significant elements of the story. This works towards setting a deeper background making up for the lack of personal touch. For instance Bessie Head describes the land seven times in the opening paragraph. The language in ‘Veronica’ is direct, with the Okeke letting the actions which happen tell the story rather than him, again showing a further willingness for the story to be interpreted freely. This works as he does not write with a particular view instead just his memoirs.
The Narrative is the main reason why the stories are noticeably presented differently. Veronica is written in the first person narrative, as the writer actually experienced what he is writing about, so we see it through his eyes. His motives for writing the story lend well to a first person narrative, as he wants to analyses what happened between him and Veronica. So by going over his actions and speech he can better understand how he felt about her. Rather than the story being only about veronica it is instead about what Okeke did or said in relation to her.
Again as in ‘Veronica’ the narrative is dictated in ‘Looking For A Rain God’ by the aims of the writer. Bessie Head wishes to convey a way of showing the effects of isolation and distance when a major disaster happens and what the implications for that can be. The third person narrative also helps Bessie Head, convey the complex mixture of old traditions and new ones, also to analyses that. As none of what happens involved her she writes about it as an onlooker to the story and offering her explanations.
As the title of this essay says there are many similarities between ‘Veronica’ and ‘Looking For A Rain God’. But the narrative and aims of the two writers means these ideas are presented in different ways.