About Expansible Image and the Little Wombless

An expansible image is a narrative device coined by Harold Scheub, which makes up the structure of many narratives and oral traditions. This is highlighted by a series of parallel images that are repeated through the course of the story. It is the stamping of an image over and over, which builds in the suspense of the tale each time stamped. In the Yoruba narrative of the little wombless, the image of an unborn child chasing and hunting down his murderous father, is an image repeated several times with the lyric uttered by the storyteller.

A narrative is made up of a series of images juxtaposed to one another, with expansible images critical to the structure of a narrative. It is through the expansible image for which the suspense of the expansible image is carried out and a comparison between expansible images is what makes possible interpretation. The little wombless shows the importance of an expansible image through the lyrics the storyteller sings. Since oral traditions are not entirely recorded and memorized by members of that society, the story is disseminated through the learning solely of that lyric. Thus, it can be molded any way the narrator sees fit to communicate this message.

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