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A Wrinkle in the Realm

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “A Wrinkle in the Realm” (2021) by Ben Okri. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it. 

Ben Okri (b. 1959) is a Nigerian writer of fiction, essays, and poetry. His works explore the themes of identity and political violence, and most of them belong to the genre of magical realism. Okri received the Booker Prize in 1991 for The Famished Road (1991) making him the youngest winner in the fiction category. His other works include Astonishing the Gods (1995), Songs of Enchantment (1993) and Freedom of the Artist (2019).

Extract

Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 

Symbols

The mask appears several times towards the end of the short story. First, the man buys seven masks and chooses the “most normal-looking one” to wear at the office. In this way, the masks represent his desire to hide the part of him that makes people avoid him. 

The mask seller is wearing an Aztec mask himself. Historically, Aztec masks, and masks in general were, used by people of color while dancing in order to “become someone else”. By putting on a mask one hides their face and becomes a new person.  At one point, people who made Aztec masks started crafting them in such a way that they resembled European features. This can symbolize that the main character has turned himself into someone...

 

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A Wrinkle in the Realm

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