A Man of the People
1. When the novel opens, what is Odili’s profession, and how does it impact his view of the Nanga’s visit?
3. Why has Odili agreed to go to the capital, Bori? What are his impressions of Nanga and the other Ministers, diplomats, socialites, etc. whom he encounters?
4. What is at the root of Odili’s feelings of betrayal by Chief Nanga and Elsie? Is he right about Elsie?
6. What does Odili decide is the best revenge for the betrayal?
7. Why have Max and his circle decided to find the Common People’s Convention?
8. What are Odili’s impressions of Edna’s father? How are these related to his impressions of Nanga and other Big Men?
9. In Anata, Odili’s decision to run against Nanga is greeted with hostility from most of the residents. How does this play out?
10. What is Chief Nanga’s final fate?
11. Does Odili succeed in exacting his “revenge” on chief Nanga?
1. Patrick Chamoiseau divides School Days into two parts, “Longing” and “Survival.” How do the two sections relate to each other? What do they reveal about Chamoiseau’s attitude about his early education?
2. On page 30 of our text, the narrator informs us that the Little Boy has often heard his Papa tell the Baroness, “…that at such places, you went in a sheep only to come out a goat.” What does the Papa mean? Does this warning match the Little Boy’s experience or any other character’s experience?
3. None of the principal characters in the novel have names. Our narrator calls himself the Little Boy, and those characters outside his family are identified by labels: “The Teacher,” “Monsieur Le Directeur,” and “Big Bellybutton,” which is a nickname and an attribute. Why name family members and Mam Saliniere (but not the Papa)? What is the significance of the label-names they do have? What is the effect upon the reader? What might be the author’s purpose in doing this? Is he successful?
4. Think about the relationships between language and culture, language and status, and language and power. How does the novel address these connections? How are these connections related to the Papa’s warning to the Baroness?
5. Consider the conflict between Big Bellybutton and the Teacher. Why has the Teacher targeted Big Bellybutton for special humiliation? What do we learn about Big Bellybutton’s internal character? How is this conflict related to the Papa’s warning?
6. The narrator spends a lot of time and space describing the marbles game, “mab.” How does this section relate to the experiences at school, both on the playground in the classroom?