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Colonialism in the Literary Short Story Essay

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The idea of heritage and tradition in the modern world has become an idea of importance to both the indigenous peoples and the descendants of the European colonists who attempted to Westernize the lands they discovered and the people in them. This idea has taken numerous forms in recent years and not-so-recent years. One form it has been examined in is the literary short story. Thomas King’s “One Good Story, That One” and Chinua Achebe’s “Dead Men’s Path” use characters and conflict to make a statement about the loss of tradition and heritage in order to demonstrate the effect of colonialism on indigenous people and their culture.
The representatives of colonialism in these stories are white men in positions of superiority. In King’s story, they take the role of anthropologists, well-educated and well-dressed, while in Achebe’s story, the white man is a supervisor in charge of overseeing everything the black main character does. The presence of these men, all of European descent, is a metaphor for the manner in which the original colonist behaved. The supervisor’s position of authority over the ‘lesser’ black man is reflective of the attitude that causes loss of heritage, while in King’s story the attitude the anthropologists display is that of the conqueror: expecting to have their wants (to hear an old traditional story) met by those who have been conquered. They do not even deign to sit with the person they are asking this of. “These three like to stand. Stand still.” (pg... p...) These characters remain nameless and faceless, only known by their titles, throughout both stories. Perhaps this is because their true purpose in the story is not as a character, but as a symbol for the attitudes of the colonists.
If the white men ...


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...ce if the lessons taught through these literary short stories are taken to heart and lived out in daily life.



Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. "Dead Men's Path." Short Fiction: Classic and Contemporary. Ed. Charles Bohner. Prentice Hall, 2002. 40-42. Print.
Derry, Ken. "Religion and (Mimetic) Violence in Canadian Native Literature." Literature & Theology: An International Journal of Religion, Theory, and Culture 16.2 (2002): 201-219. MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. Web. 8 Nov. 2010.
Heinimann, David. "Trickster Ethics, Richler and King Fiddling." English Studies in Canada 30.3 (2004): 39-56. MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. Web. 8 Nov. 2010.
King, Thomas. "One Good Story, That One." One Good Story, That One. HarperCollins, 1993. 3-10. Print
Lindfors, Bernth, ed. Conversations with Chinua Achebe. Jackson: Univ. Press of Mississippi, 1997. Print.


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