International Journal of
English and Literature

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. English Lit.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2626
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJEL
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 278

Full Length Research Paper

Ian McEwan's Solar and Helon Habila's Oil on Water: A comparative ecocritical study

Abiodun Oluwasola Fakemi
  • Abiodun Oluwasola Fakemi
  • English Department, School of Humanities, University of Buckingham, United Kingdom.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 19 February 2022
  •  Accepted: 04 April 2022
  •  Published: 30 April 2022


This study juxtaposes Ian McEwan’s Solar and Helon Habila’s Oil on Water to illustrate their areas of convergence and divergence concerning their portrayal of ecological discourse. Attention is paid, to how McEwan and Habila deploy characterisation (particularly of the main characters and female     characters) to bring to the fore the overwhelming influence of socio-political and economic issues on ecological or environmental crises in the societies portrayed in the two narratives. The aesthetic and socio-political dimensions of ecocriticism are deployed in this study. In the same vein, the interplay of the socio-political and ethical dimensions has been investigated as well.  Habila depicts women  as    victims of circumstances and females as representatives of problems in the postcolonial context while McEwan  portrays  them  as  a  bad  influence who  inadvertently  prevent  men  from saving the planet. Ironically, the same women are projected as objects to be used and discarded (in the same manner the natural world is exploited). In addition, Solar illustrates climate change issues and their effects on the planet though with an undertone of sociocentrism while Oil concentrates on the environmental vis-à-vis economic and social crises in the Niger Delta.  It is also ascertained that what makes both texts invaluable for this study is the political and economic ties between the two major countries they are set in, as one is the former coloniser of the other. Significantly, both narratives are not apocalyptic.


Key words: Aesthetic dimension, socio-political dimension, resource curse, national allegories, sociocentrism, ecocentrism.