Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


LACS: French

First Advisor

Karen Humphreys


Between 2014 and 2016, a devastating outbreak of the Ebola virus terrorized three countries in West Africa: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. This epidemic has been widely depicted in various texts and films, including the novel In the Company of Men written by Ivorian poet, novelist, and artist Véronique Tadjo. Published in 2017—a year after the Ebola outbreak in West Africa ended—the novel considers the different voices that respond to this public health emergency. In her literary representation of the epidemic, Tadjo examines the experiences of people in different sectors, from healthcare and research professionals that selflessly gave their lives to help others, to the candid tales of patients and family members of the victims that succumbed to the disease. At the same time, she also considers the perspectives of natural elements— specifically bats, trees, and the Ebola virus itself—and their opinion on the epidemic.

By analyzing the form and structure of the book (sixteen chapters with ten human narrators), I show that Tadjo wants us to remember the devastating reality of the epidemic and honor the lives that were lost. Her approach considers a plurality of human voices and experiences, which I focus on in my analysis. In addition, by examining her use of symbolism—more specifically, anthropomorphism—I illustrate how Tadjo establishes a cause-and-effect dichotomy in her narrative and highlights the lessons we can learn from other non-human elements that are usually overlooked. Through this literary portrayal of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, I further demonstrate that Tadjo seeks to encourage a global conversation, the aim of which is to create peace and harmony among all different inhabitants of the world, including humans, animals, plants, and even non-living infectious agents.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Science in LACS: French.