Ideology and the Pursuit of Desire in Ben Okri’s Starbook

Ezekwesili Chinyere Chinedu


Ideology to the common man is a perspective of interpretation. A group’s ideology is the basis of their self-image which incorporates their identity, actions, norms and values, as well as their relationship with other groups. Ideologies are expressed and reproduced in the social practices of their members, and more practically acquired and perpetuated through discourse. These have also been depicted in fictional works such as Okri’s Starbook. Okri’s Starbook has been widely and variously read. Some critics have read it as an allegory of the slave trade in Africa, and others as a portrayal of Okri’s perception of reality. But this paper takes a different perspective. It seeks meaning and interpretation from the language of the text and not outside it. The analysis of ideology in a literary text is a study on language, since it is within language that meaning is mobilised. This paper examines ideology and the pursuit of desire by picking on characters whose dispositions and desires are oriented towards the satisfaction of underlying wants and needs. It searches for meaning and interpretation from what the text says at the underside of discourse, hence, it adopts the Poststructuralist critical approach. Jurgen Habermas’s linguistic theory is appropriate for the analysis and interpretation of actions in the text because this paper seeks to verify whether the actions of characters in the book are motivated by the pursuit of desire.


Ideology, Pursuit of Desire, Starbook, Ben Okri, Poststructuralist, Jurgen Habermas

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