Chinua Achebe 's Things Fall Apart Essay

Chinua Achebe 's Things Fall Apart Essay

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1. Setting/Matter - Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is set in a region of Nigeria called Umuofia, one of the nine villages in Nigeria, where the people live in huts in family compounds and grow yams and harvest palm nuts to live. It is set just as European colonialism of Africa is being introduced to the area. The author set it here to show the interactions between the white colonialists, almost all of whom are missionaries, and the native African peoples. The setting shows the culture of the Nigerian peoples before and after colonial contact and how the colonists caused change in Nigerian society that had been unchanging for many years. The book, published in 1959, was probably written in order to protest the British control over Nigeria and the colonization of many other countries still under the control of European powers who felt the need to take on “The White Man’s Burden” (Kipling). This quote, describing the thoughts of a white man who has come to Nigeria, demonstrates that idea very well, “He had already chosen the title of the book, after much thought: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger” (Achebe 209). This is an example of the setting and how it helps to see the protesting the destruction of traditional culture in Nigeria. It contrasts the idea of “Primitive” cultures with the rest of the book, which is a narrative describing a culture that is different but decidedly not primitive. The question that arises from this line of thought is: How does the setting, including the culture of the people, affect how we view the people of Umuofia and Nigeria as a whole and how does our view affect the meaning we derive from the story?

2. Plot - In Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the main character adopt...


... middle of paper ...


...t are not often said in the English language, and Ibo words, emphasizes the differences in culture between traditional Nigeria and modern western culture. This emphasis was important to the story in order to create a sense of unity in the main characters and show how the white visitors are out of place, not the other way around. The style Achebe uses defies traditional writing by being African; in the sense that it really does submit to traditional conventions, just not the tradition that people are familiar with reading. There are very few African writers when compared to the pantheon of European and American writers. And Achebe does a great job of highlighting this by using unconventional manners. The question I would ask is: How does Achebe’s use of unconventional language show the differences in cultural tradition while still preserving the overall human identity?

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