Chapter One to Chapter Five Summary of “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born”


Chapter One

The chapter opens in a bus at night. There is a short drama of an unknown apparently depressed man who has taken a profound sleep, the one that transfers him to the subconscious realm of defense mechanism.

He wakes up seeing a vicious ooze of himself on the seat, following the disparagement of the conductor: “You bloody fucking sonofabitch! Article of no commercial value! You think the bus belongs to your father?” (P. 6).

After he is dropped, he begins walking as if he were aimless. Apparently, he is numb and weak to walk vigorously. He almost gets hit by a taxi. The driver scolds him with the invective, “uncircumcised baboon. If your time has come, search for someone else to take your worthless life.” (P. 9). He apologizes and continues with his walk.


Chapter Two

The next chapter takes place in an office at Kojokrom station. The protagonist, an anonymous man, has a brief conversation with the night clerk about how the previous night’s duty went. It becomes apparent that he works as a clerk at the station. He takes over the shift from the night clerk at 06:00 A.M., and the day clerks start arriving after 08:00 A.M.

Chapter Three

This chapter portrays fragments of events that take place in the train station where the protagonist works. The workers are frustrated with the monotony and low standard of living that comes with their repetitive daily routines.

One day, a visitor enters the station looking for a particular clerk. The clerk explains that there are two clerks, one for time and one for wagon space. The visitor is looking for the wagon clerk, but it is too late, and they have gone home by 4:30 PM, and will only resume the next morning.

However, the visitor, who introduces himself as Amankwa, a contractor who cuts timber, insists that he does not mind if the clerk on duty can assist him.

The clerk is initially unwilling to help, but Amankwa offers him and the supposed clerk on duty ten-cedi notes as a bribe, claiming that he does not care who is on duty.

Amankwa’s timber is rotting in the forest, and he needs an allocation, but the clerk refuses to help him and rejects the bribe.

This angers the visitor, who leaves and returns to confront the clerk, saying, “But you also know that everybody prospers from the work he does?” The clerk replies, “Everybody prospers from the job he does.” (P. 32).

Chapter Four

In this chapter, the life on the street is displayed as roadside peddlers work hard to make ends meet and “the suited man” is seen jokingly buying things with Estella in a car.

The man meets a friend, with whom he has an indistinct conversation. Koomson is the suited man, and the friend is the unnamed narrator who had refused a bribe from a contractor earlier.

The man arrives home late, but his family shows no interest in welcoming him. He tries to be quiet, but bursts out by telling them he met Koomson and Estella, and they said they are coming to visit them.

During their conversation, a woman comes in to request sugar for her children, but she is told it is finished. She leaves, even though she doesn’t really believe it’s true.

After she leaves, the man tells his wife about the bribe, and she replies sarcastically, “And like an Onward Christian Soldier, you refused?” (P. 43).

The man feels discontent. His wife is tired of “crawling”; she wants to fly. She can no longer endure the suffering. She asks her husband whether he doesn’t like the smell of Estella Koomson or the way she is driven wherever she wants.

Her husband is more concerned about “how” the wealth is made, which his wife does not care about. She asks, “Would you refuse Koomson’s car if it was given free to you?”

She calls him “a chichidodo,” saying “The chichidodo is a bird that hates excrement with all its soul. But the chichidodo only feeds on maggots, and you know the maggots grow best inside the lavatory.” (P. 45).

Chapter Five

The embittered man departs his home into the darkness, and his wife watches as he walks away without concern for his destination.

He travels to the side of the main connecting road closer to the sea and proceeds to walk the entire distance to the Essei area. He finds himself trapped in a bar, sitting at a desk, with a naked man reading in bed.

The two men watch each other momentarily until the naked man turns the knob of his radio, but the second time he does so, it produces no sound. The man at the desk initiates a conversation using this medium. The naked man picks up a book titled He Who Must Die written by a Greek author. When asked about it, the naked man replies, “There are so many good things we don’t get a chance to see” (P. 53).

The man asks the naked man if he cares if people see him through the window and stop to enter. He chuckles and says, “It doesn’t worry me.” The naked man laughs easily at everything, even unhappiness, but the seated man is not cool with it.

The man explains how he was ridiculed by his wife, Oyo, earlier. “She called me chichidodo,” he says. The naked man replies that it is a proverb that means “the bird eats shit, hates worms.” But it is the other way around, says ‘the condemned man.’ He recounts what happened at work, and the naked man does not appraise him either. He says, “Expect no forgiveness from your family.” (P. 54). The man addresses the naked man as Teacher.

The man feels like a criminal, as if he had committed a crime, which he is free in the real sense, but the naked man says he has done nothing really, nothing compared to what others are doing. The man at the desk feels really bad for being laughed at. He says, “When the time comes that Teacher also just laughs at my pain, where will I be going next?”

But the Teacher tells him he only laughs at Oyo. The man sitting at the desk says the Teacher is the freest person he knows because he has escaped the call of loved ones. But the Teacher says that it implies that everyone he knows is a slave. And he claims he is not free because he wants to meet the loved ones too, but they are dead, even when they walk around like they are living. The only thing they want is for you to throw away the thing in your mind that makes you think you are alive. And so the naked man runs where he is now lonely. He says the day he feels like being something is when he runs back to them with unbearable strength.

The condemned man says his wife has found salvation in ‘money and power’ coming in the person of Koomson. Koomson has promised to get Oyo and her mother fishing boats to make them rich. The man asks the Teacher whether he should not allow them to have it, but the naked man says preventing them from having it would earn him nothing but two eternal enemies.

 He asks his teacher what could be wrong when Koomson was his classmate, and now he is a big man. But the naked man replies, “it may be that you cannot lie very well.” (P. 57).

He recounts how he was disparaged by his mother-in-law when the boat scheme initially came to him. His mother-in-law, who refers to Koomson as Brother Joe, calls him an ‘unpatriotic’ being when he says Koomson got his fortune through ‘corruption’ and ‘public theft’ after he reckoned his salary and realized that the money to get boats was beyond Koomson’s wages. He adds that he was disappointed when his wife was in support of the boat project.

The naked man reveals that the society expects the upright man to conform to its norms and values, and that is why the man is miserable. He explains that the society is like a machine that wants everyone to fit into its mold, and whoever does not fit in is considered an outcast. The society wants everyone to follow the same path and conform to the same ideas, but the upright man has chosen to go against the grain, and that is why he is condemned.

The naked man says that he, on the other hand, has accepted his fate and has learned to live with it. He adds that happiness is a state of mind and that it is possible to be happy even in the midst of hardship. He advises the upright man to find happiness within himself and not to look for it outside.

The conversation between the two men is a reflection of the larger societal issue of conformity versus individualism. The society expects everyone to follow the same path and conform to the same ideas, but some people choose to go against the grain and live life on their own terms. The upright man represents those who choose to be different, while the naked man represents those who have accepted the status quo. The conversation between the two men highlights the struggles of those who choose to be different and the challenges they face in a society that values conformity above all else.

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