Form and Content: An Analysis of Helon Habila’s Measuring Time

Published: June 2019

Author:  Awolaja, Abiodun Adebayo

About Author:  Department of English. Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria

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This paper undertakes a pragmastylistic analysis of Helon Habila’s Measuring Time, focusing on some foregrounded lexical and pragmatic features in the novel. Using 15 purposively selected utterances of characters in the novel based on the depiction of foregrounded lexical features and three further extracts manifesting the use of presupposition and implicature as analytical tools for explicating the meanings communicated during exchanges in the fictional world of the novel, the paper shows that Habila utilises lexical repetition and parallelism as a foregrounding scheme for capturing experience and situating the major characters, their actions and their psychological states at various stages of the novel. It also shows that the exchanges between major characters in the novel are characterised by tension and agony, exhibiting a predisposition to violence arising from the unfavourable political climate and personal failures. The paper demonstrates the author’s preoccupation with various aspects of the horrendous life lived by Nigerians in post-independence Nigeria and concludes that Helon Habila’s Measuring Time is a documentation of leadership failure.

Keywords: pragmastylistic, lexical repetition, Measuring Time, horrendous life