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Civil Peace: Summary & Exercise [Class - 11]

In the story "Civil Peace", the main character, Jonathan Iwegbu, counts himself as "extraordinarily lucky" for having survived a civil war in Nigeria

Summary of Civil Peace

In the story "Civil Peace", the main character, Jonathan Iwegbu, counts himself as "extraordinarily lucky" for having survived a civil war in Nigeria with his head and the heads of his wife and three out of four children. He is also grateful to have retained possession of his old bicycle, which he considers a miracle.

Jonathan is resourceful and entrepreneurial, using his old bicycle as a taxi and earning a small fortune ferrying camp officials and their families to the nearest tarred road. He is also practical and resourceful, using old zinc and wood to repair his little house and making breakfast akara balls to sell to neighbors. Despite the challenges and difficulties he has faced, Jonathan maintains a positive and hopeful attitude, expressing gratitude for his blessings and trusting in God's wisdom and guidance.

One day, Jonathan and his wife hear thieves pounding on their door, trying to break in. Despite the danger, Jonathan and his wife remain calm and do not respond, knowing that they have nothing of value for the thieves to steal. The thieves eventually give up and leave, and Jonathan and his wife continue with their daily lives, grateful for their safety and the peace they have achieved.

Overall, "Civil Peace" is a story about resilience and hope in the face of adversity. It highlights the challenges and difficulties that people can face during times of conflict and the importance of maintaining a positive and hopeful attitude in the face of hardship. Despite the challenges he has faced, Jonathan is able to maintain a strong and resourceful spirit, demonstrating a deep faith and a resilient spirit in the face of adversity.

Exercise of Civil Peace

Understanding The text

Answer the following questions.

a. Why did Jonathan think of himself as 'extraordinarily lucky'?

Jonathan thinks of himself as 'extraordinarily lucky' because he survived the war with his head and the heads of his wife and three out of four children. He also retained possession of his old bicycle, which he considers a miracle.

b. What are the ‘five blessings’ for which Jonathan is grateful?

The five blessings for which Jonathan is grateful are his head, his wife Maria's head, and the heads of three out of their four children. He is also grateful for his old bicycle.

c. Why did Jonathan mistrust the officer who wanted to take his bicycle? What does this tell you about the situation in Nigeria?

Jonathan mistrusts the officer who wants to take his bicycle because he suspects that the officer might not be genuine. This suggests that there is a lack of trust in the military or government in Nigeria.

d. What visitors might be at the door? Are Jonathan and his wife completely surprised? Explain.

It is possible that thieves are at the door. Jonathan and his wife are completely surprised because they did not expect anyone to come to their house in midnight and violently knock the door.

e. Why does no one in the neighbourhood respond when the thieves pound on Jonathan’s door? Why do the thieves call for the police?

No one in the neighbourhood responds when the thieves pound on Jonathan's door because they may fear for their own safety or because they do not want to get involved in the situation. The thieves call for the police because they knew very well that the police would not come to help them.

Reference to the text

a. What does Jonathan mean by his expression “Nothing puzzles God”? What does this expression reveal about his character? Explain by citing details from the story.

Jonathan uses the expression "Nothing puzzles God" to express his belief that God is all-knowing and all-powerful, and that everything that happens is part of His plan. This expression reveals that Jonathan is a deeply religious person who trusts in God's wisdom and guidance, even in difficult times.

Throughout the story, Jonathan demonstrates his faith in God by thanking Him for the blessings he has received, including the safety of his family and the preservation of his old bicycle. He also attributes the survival of his little house to God, stating that "nothing puzzles God". This suggests that Jonathan sees everything that happens as part of God's plan, and trusts in His protection and provision.

b. How does Jonathan change as he experiences the conflicts in his life? Explain.

Jonathan is a hardworking person who believes in his hard work and the blessings of God. He is a deeply religious person who trusts in God's wisdom and guidance, even in difficult times. He is an optimist who believes that everything will be fine. He lost his child during the war, but he considers himself fortunate to have received five inestimable blessings. He is grateful for his head, his wife Maria's head, and the heads of three out of their four children. He is also grateful for his old bicycle. He keeps on doing his hard labor for the sake and welfare of his family, keeping faith in God. He changes according to the demands of the time and his own family's needs.

c. Read the extract and answer the questions below. “To God who made me; if you come inside and find one hundred pounds, take it and shoot me and shoot my wife and children. I swear to God. The only money I have in this life is this twenty pounds egg-rasher they gave me today ...”

i. Who is the speaker?

Jonathan is the speaker.

ii. Who is the speaker talking to?

The speaker is talking to the thieves.

iii. Who does “they” refer to?

"They" refers to the officials of the treasury i.e. the government.

d. Nigerian English has words like soja 'soldier' and katakata 'confusion', 'trouble' derived apparently from English words but transformed by native languages' phonologies. What does the author’s use of dialect here add to the story?

The use of Nigerian English dialect in the story, including words like soja (soldier) and katakata (confusion, trouble), adds authenticity and local flavor to the narrative. It helps to convey the cultural and linguistic context of the story and helps to immerse the reader in the setting and characters. The use of dialect also serves to highlight the diverse linguistic influences that exist in Nigeria and the unique way that language is used in the country.

In addition, the use of dialect can also serve to establish the authenticity of the story and the credibility of the narrator. By using words and phrases that are specific to a particular region or culture, the author is able to create a sense of realism and verisimilitude that helps to enhance the reader's engagement with the story. Overall, the use of dialect in the story adds depth and texture to the narrative and helps to create a more immersive and authentic reading experience.

e. Why do you think the thieves who come to rob Jonathan speak English with a heavier African accent than Jonathan does?

I think the thieves who come to rob Jonathan speak English with a heavier African accent than Jonathan does because they have a different background or education than Jonathan, or that they come from a different region or community within Nigeria where a different dialect or accent is prevalent.

f. The title of the story "Civil Peace" itself is ironical as there is little to differentiate ‘civil peace’ from ‘civil war’. Do you think that the title of this story is appropriate, or would “Civil War” have been a better title? Explain.

In my opinion, the title "Civil Peace" is appropriate for this story because it reflects the perspective of the main character, Jonathan, who sees himself as having survived the war and achieved a state of relative peace and stability. For Jonathan, the fact that he has retained his head and the heads of his family, as well as his old bicycle, is a sign of his good fortune and a cause for gratitude. From this perspective, the title "Civil Peace" represents the personal sense of peace and security that Jonathan has achieved, despite the ongoing challenges and uncertainties of the post-war period.

While it is true that the events of the story, which take place in the aftermath of a civil war, suggest that there is little difference between "civil peace" and "civil war", the title "Civil Peace" could also be seen as representing the hope and optimism that Jonathan and other survivors of the war may have for the future. Despite the ongoing challenges and conflicts in the post-war period, the title "Civil Peace" suggests that there is a possibility for a better and more peaceful future, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Overall, I think that "Civil Peace" is an appropriate title for the story because it captures the personal perspective and experiences of the main character, while also suggesting the potential for a more peaceful future. While "Civil War" could also be a valid title, it would focus more on the broader context and ongoing conflicts of the post-war period, rather than the personal experiences of the main character.

Reference beyond the text

How would you describe the civil peace in Nigeria?

The condition of the civil service in Nigeria wasn't good. After the war, the period of civil peace was the period of resettlement. There was nothing new for the people. People had to face various problems during that time. The government's law during that time was good. There were many risks in people's lives. Thieves used to loot and beat people without having any fear of the law. Though the Civil War piece prevailed there, there was anarchy everywhere.

What kind of attitude towards life do you think you would have if your situation was similar to that of Jonathan’s?

If I were to speculate on how I might respond to a situation similar to Jonathan's, I would likely have a grateful and resilient attitude towards life.

Given the challenges and difficulties that Jonathan and his family faced during the war and in the post-war period, I would likely appreciate and value the safety and well-being of my family and myself, and be thankful for the blessings and opportunities that I have. I might also strive to make the most of my circumstances and find ways to overcome challenges and hardships in order to build a better future for myself and my loved ones.

Draw the character sketch of Jonathan Iwegbu.

Jonathan Iwegbu is the main character of the story "Civil Peace". He is a survivor of a civil war in Nigeria and is grateful to have retained his head and the heads of his wife and three out of four children. He is also grateful to have retained possession of his old bicycle, which he considers a miracle.

Jonathan is resourceful and entrepreneurial, using his old bicycle as a taxi and earning a small fortune ferrying camp officials and their families to the nearest tarred road. He is also practical and resourceful, using old zinc and wood to repair his little house and making breakfast akara balls to sell to neighbors.

Despite the challenges and difficulties he has faced, Jonathan maintains a positive and hopeful attitude, expressing gratitude for his blessings and trusting in God's wisdom and guidance. He is also resilient and determined, working hard to provide for his family and build a better future for them. Overall, Jonathan is a strong and resourceful character who demonstrates a deep faith and a resilient spirit in the face of adversity.

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