Plot Summary and Setting of Pede Hollist’s So the Path Does Not Die

In this blog post, we are going to briefly talk about the plot summary and setting of So the Path Does Not Die by Pede Hollist.

0
Plot Summary of So the Path Does Not Die
Plot Summary of So the Path Does Not Die
Advertisement

In this blog post, we are going to briefly talk about the plot summary and setting of So the Path Does Not Die by Pede Hollist.

Plot Summary of So the Path Does Not Die

So the Path Does Not Die by Pede Hollist tells the story of Finaba Marah from childhood and adulthood and her quest for identity and sense of belonging in the societies she found herself. The novel begins at Talaba Village in Sierra Leone where there is a conflict between Baramusu, Finaba’s grandmother, and Nabou, her mother on whether Finaba will participate in the communal female circumcision exercise or not.  Finaba’s parents, Amadu and Nabou, are hesitant because they lost their first daughter during a similar ceremony.

As for Finaba, she wants to participate in the important initiation ceremony to fit in with other girls her age. While her mother is away, Baramusu takes her to the forest for the initiation but her father interrupts the exercise. His interruption is considered an abomination. This angers the community. Consequently, Amadu leaves Talaba Village for Freetown with his wife and daughter. This change in environment opens a new chapter in Finaba’s life.

Advertisement

When they get to Freetown, Amadu decides to stay with his uncle, Alhaji Umaru, who eventually helps him find work. His pregnant wife, Nabou, also starts a small trading business to support the family and send Finaba to school. After she is treated at a free dental clinic by an American dentist, Fina dreams of becoming a dentist too. With Amadu’s work and the income he accrues from selling some of the building materials he has been entrusted with to guard, Amadu is able to move out of Alhaji Umaru’s house into a one-room apartment he rented. But joy has a slender body that breaks too soon. Amadu dies unexpectedly from tetanus poisoning, not long after he moved to Freetown with his family.

So the Path Does Not Die
So the Path Does Not Die

After her Amadu’s death, his employer, Pa Heddle, decides to shoulder the responsibility of making provisions for Fina’s education and needs. He takes Finaba in as a foster child. At the Heddles, Fina is treated to kindly but struggles to assimilate into their household. She feels like an outsider among their biological children and has the feelings of inadequacy. She struggles to fit in, as her efforts are complicated by the tension between her and one of the Heddle children, Ade. She accidentally burns Ade’s cloth, which leads to resentment for her from Ade.

Fina is later enrolled as a fulltime boarding student at Crowther College. At first, she is happy to be free from the awkwardness that now become a part of her daily existence in Heddle household. However, she begins to feel inadequate again when she faces discrimination from her fellow students on the grounds that she is Fula by tribe. Towards the end of her stay at Crowther College, she has difficulty understanding Organic Chemistry. She approaches a lab assistant named Kizzy for her Organic Chemistry class. When she realises that Kizzy is not really going help her and only wants to take advantage of her, she decides to stop going to him for lessons. Kizzy, however, promises to give answers to her forthcoming Organic Chenmisty examination and asks her to come to his place in the dead of the night.

On her way to Kizzy’s, she has a vision of her late father and grandmother. Her father warns her against taking “the easy path” and to submit to God’s will instead. But her grandmother urges her to “not cut the rope” and follow their people’s path. Despite the warning, Fina goes to Kizzy’s house where he rapes her. Devastated, she drops out of school. Later, she gets a job and with her boss’s help, moves to America.

There, Fina works hard to send money home to her mother and sister Isa. Her dreams are to start a business for Isa and open a center to help women affected by circumcision. After her mother dies, she remains very generous towards Isa, even when Isa takes advantage of her generosity. Though her partner Cammy says Isa is being lazy, Fina continues supporting her, not wanting to “cut the rope” that ties them as the only remaining family. She prioritizes Isa’s demands over her own wedding and happiness.

While in America, Fina often remembers her grandmother Baramusu’s words to never “cut the rope” connecting her to her people, and the curses after her father disrupted her initiation ceremony. On her wedding day to Cammy, she has a dream about the night her initiation was stopped. It feels like an omen hanging over her.

Intuiting trouble, she brings her divorce papers from her previous marriage to the church.  Sure enough, her ex-husband Jemal shows up, claiming she is still his wife. This prevents Fina’s marriage to Cammy. She feels her grandmother’s curse is continuing to follow her for trying to “cut the rope” by marrying outside her culture. All this while, she is pregnant with Cammy’s child.

Fina decides to return home to Sierra Leone. Her first goal is to find her grandmother, to “connect the past to the present and future” and regain the sense of belonging she lost after her disrupted initiation. She visits places from her teenage years to reconnect with her roots. Eventually she travels to her home village Talaba, but finds it in ruins.

Her search for her grandmother Baramusu does not yield any positive results. But she is introduced to a blind old woman, Mama Yegbe, and Mawaf, the old woman’s girl Friday. She learns about the horrible things the two women had to endure during the civil war, and in the case of Mawaf, the atrocities she was forced to commit.

Back in Freetown, Fina decides to take the two as her family. She lives with Mama Yegbe, and Mawaf whom she has adopted as her daughter. She treats Mawaf just the same way she would treat Dimusu-Celeste, her biological daughter. She finally heeds to her grandmother’s words about surviving by giving and receiving strength from her community.

The novel ends hopefully, with Cammy likely to join Fina and their daughter in Sierra Leone, allowing her to maintain that vital connection instead of “cutting the rope.”

Plot Summary of So the Path Does Not Die
Plot Summary of So the Path Does Not Die

Setting

The setting of So the Path Does Not Die is primarily Sierra Leone and America. The novel starts in Talaba, then moves through Freetown and Koidu in Sierra Leone before transitioning to America. There is also a brief stop at Nigeria for the wedding of Aman and Bayo. These settings reflect Finaba’s trajectory in So the Path Does Not Die.

Finaba was born in the village of Talaba. She relocates with her parents at a very young age to Freetown where she gets education. Koidu is where she gets her first job. She then immigrates to America at some point with the help of her boss/friend Meredith. She lives and works there for a significant period, sending money back home to support her family. She returns to Talaba, her home village, to find it in ruins. She eventually settles in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. This is a breakdown of the physical setting of So the Path Does Not Die by the way.

Further Reading:

WHATSAPP: Click HERE to join the new Literature PADI WhatsApp group to receive latest updates on your phone and for further literary discussions!

Advertisement

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.