'Open City' is a novel that was written by a Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole in the year 2011. The setting of the story is the New York City and involves an Immigrant from Nigeria referred to as Julius. Julius has just broken up with the girlfriend and explores the City of New York where he meets many people and tries various activities that are involved in this city.
Thesis Statement: This paper is aimed at using Teju Cole's 'Open City' to determine whether African realities become comestible in the west when directly sublimed through the western consciousness.
Julius who is the main character is a Nigerian doctor doing his residency in New York where he feels lonely. 'Above ground, I was with thousands of others in their solitude' (Cole 2012). He takes up walks to relieve the pressures of his job when he realizes that the City of New York is a melting point, a diverse city that has different cultures and ethnicities. He has been westernized until he does not identify himself with his cultural roots. However, as he takes these walks, he can see the separation that draws the imaginary line hence segregating the ethnic groups from each other. 'Each neighborhood appeared to be made of different substance' (Cole, 2012).
The realization makes Julius think about his childhood in Nigeria which he had forgotten. He had lost his Nigerian identity to western culture and civilization. His father who had since died was a Nigerian citizen while his mother is a white woman from Germany. This makes Julius a mixed race. Therefore, he was light colored hence tried to copy the western culture and mannerism. However, how hard he worked, he sometimes felt out of place in the world where many in his shoes would believe they belonged.
The fact that Julius did not identify with his African roots show that African realities become comestible in the west when directly sublimed through the western consciousness. During the walks is when he realizes how much western knowledge has eroded his African roots. As Julius wonders around the city, many black individuals seem to connect with him since they recognize his African roots (Cole, 2012). He was not aware of this fact until now hence he becomes curious in exploiting the Africanism in him. Many things try to remind him of his African roots, but he ignores them. For instance, during one of his run-ins with a person he grew up with in Nigeria reveals that he had raped her. Julius blocked out all these memories in Africa out of his mind; hence he shows that he does not recall doing something like this to her.
African realities become comestible in the west when directly sublimed through the western consciousness since despite knowing all the above things about his culture, Julius does not want to be associated with Africanism. The reader would think that Julius would go back to African and try to treat Africans where they need him than the people in the US. However, he finishes his residency and swiftly moves into private practice to practice westernized medicine and maybe accumulate money and wealth which is one of the significant attributes of the western cultures. This shows that he has come into terms with the events of his life and never addresses other issues.
The story validates the statement that African realities become comestible in the west when directly sublimed through the western consciousness. Like many young African men, Julius has lost his Africanism and strives to identify with western culture.
Cole, T. (2012). Open City: A Novel. Random House Incorporated.
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