Oral literature is a culture passed down by word of mouth from one generation to another. Story telling has been around since humans invented language. Oral literature includes legends, myths, chants, songs and tales. This essay will discuss oral literature, as a literary genre, specific generic features from “Rainbow and Her Daughter” and its purpose.
Oral literature originated out of the creative urge of individuals in a group through using of an event from their own personal experiences. There are many types of oral literature which includes myths, legends, epics, folklore, folk songs and folk speech. Myths are stories from the past, often based on real events or characters from older times. Legends may tell of an encounter with marvelous creatures which the folks still believe in example fairies, ghosts and water spirits. Legends are basically the stories of the super heroes that existed in pre-historical times. Epics are long stories, often told in verse, involving heroes and gods. Folk songs are traditional or composed songs typically made up of stanzas and a simple melody. Oral literature also has literary elements. These includes plot, characters, styles, setting and themes. These elements help the authors to express their views and message clearly.
In the short story, “Rainbow and Her Daughter” Fanua has used many generic features. One of the features used by Fanua is flashback. This is shown to the readers where Ofatonoa walks down to the beach, recalling the time she had spent with her late husband. Another feature shown by Fanua is the use of repetition. For instance the line “Blue ocean, deep and dark” page 17 has been repeated twice in the short story “Rainbow and Her Daughter”. The use of supernatural powers has also been viewed in this short story. The readers are able to see the usage of supernatural powers when Umata carries Ofatonoa to a small pool of water nearby and places her in it. The girl sank to the bottom, and when she came up all her sores had vanished. On page 17 of “rainbow and her daughter” the old woman uses supernatural powers to helps the boys to know the reason of death of their father. Last but not the least; chanting is used by Fanua throughout the story.
“Blow wind from the south
Go and tell Umata
The man Hema’imatangi,
In spite of my sores,
Asked me to be his wife.
The above chanting is used when Ofatonoa goes to call her mother from the sky where she usually came from.
Every generic feature has their own purpose. Flashback is a literary device in a story that provides some background information on events, situations, or a character’s past history. Authors often use flashbacks to reveal some important truth about a character’s past that otherwise that reader might not have known. (enotes). Repetition is used for drawing attention to a particular theme or message that the author is trying to portray. On the other hand super natural powers are a great draw for attention. It keeps the readers entertained and eager to know what would be happening next. Chanting is being commonly used throughout the short story to help the author express his or her feelings or views more clearly.
In conclusion, oral literature is accepted as a literary genre and its purpose and generic features have been clearly stated above.