Academic journal article IUP Journal of English Studies

Walking with Shadows and the Critique of the Evolutionary Character of Nigerian Narratives

Academic journal article IUP Journal of English Studies

Walking with Shadows and the Critique of the Evolutionary Character of Nigerian Narratives

Article excerpt

Over a 150 years after Charles Darwin declared that "all organic beings are exposed to severe competition," a competition for life, no one has refuted him convincingly (Darwin, 1964, p. 70). Rather, within the span of the above years his influence has expanded, laying the foundation for today's Life Sciences. He further remarks that:

Owing to this struggle, variations, however slight and from whatever cause proceeding, if they be in any degree profitable to the individuals of a species, in their infinitely complex relations to other organic beings and to their physical conditions of life, will tend to the preservation of such individuals, and will generally be inherited by the offspring. The offspring, also, will thus have a better chance of surviving, for, of the many individuals of any species which are periodically born, but a small number can survive. I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term natural selection, in order to mark its relation to man's power of selection. . . . But Natural Selection, we shall hereafter see, is a power incessantly ready for action, and is as immeasurably superior to man's feeble efforts, as the works of Nature are to those of Art. (p. 70)

Implied above are-one, that organic beings, including humans naturally abide by a universal principle operating through their action, or inactions, in their day-to-day lives as they attempt to manoeuvre pain to get pleasure in order to survive; two, that during these maneuvers and for the eternal transfer of this trait of manoeuvre from one generation to another as conditions of life vary from a generation to the next, reproduction, the willing coming together of two hosts of the female and male gametes, is very crucial. Without it, the whole process of natural selection is void, namely, there would be no Charles Darwin and his immense and foundational contribution to the life sciences. Therefore, Darwin's groundbreaking concepts of species, genera, variation, and tens of others, come about because of the operation of biological reproduction. Three, what is inherited by an offspring is what has enhanced the survival of the forebear; in other words, there is nothing inheritable via reproduction by the offspring which has not been gainful to the ancestor(s).

Biological reproduction is inherently fundamental to Darwin. His theory asserts that life evolved, in a series of developmental stages, from the primitive to the present state through a rigorously proven complex process of mate selection (selection of opposite sexes) that spans millions of years and still does. This process is the origin, foundation, and the sustainer of life. The centrality of biological reproduction led him to what he called sexual selection, a competition amongst males of organic animals using very special weapons for winning members of the opposite sex, females. He explains:

This form of selection depends, not on a struggle for existence in relation to other organic beings or to external conditions, but on a struggle between the individuals of one sex, generally the males, for the possession of the other sex. The result is not death to the unsuccessful competitor, but few or no offspring. Sexual selection is, therefore, less rigorous than natural selection. Generally, the most vigorous males, those which are best fitted for their places in nature, will leave most progeny.

[. . .]

Thus it is, as I believe, that when the males and females of any animal have the same general habits of life, but differ in structure, color, or ornament, such differences have been mainly caused by sexual selection: that is, by individual males having had, in successive generations, some slight advantage over other males, in their weapons, means of defense, or charms; which they have transmitted to their male offspring alone. (1964, 93, 94)

Cocks, alligators, hymenopterous insects, lion, male salmon, the rock thrush of Guiana, and others are cited as cases in point where this sort of selection takes place. …

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