Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe follows the story of an Umuofia tribesman in Africa at the onset of European colonization. Amorally confessing the unfamiliar and sometimes shocking customs of the tribe, Things Fall Apart appears to undercut the central premises of a multicultural myth that encourages the idea that non-European cultures were peaceful, egalitarian, non-violent, non-racist and non-sexist prior to European introduction. However, a closer look reveals the myth hidden under persuasive writing and a guise of candor. The cadence of the story and the clean writing style of Achebe elicits an unconscious trust between the narrator and the reader. The reader falls into step with the simple wording of the sentences which mimics the straightforward culture of the tribe they describe. The plain writing creates the appearance of literature without agenda. Similarly, the appearance of objective storytelling lends the narrator a silent credibility. As the reader receives the story as entertainment and not propaganda, the easy reading sets a comfortable pace. Although it appears there is no hidden motive, the story is purposefully crafted. The content is framed to resonate with the reader by exposing the humanity of the native Africans. As the reader identifies with familiar emotions such as pride, loyalty, friendship and family, an empathetic bond is created between the reader and the characters. The establishment of familiarity between the reader, narrator and characters is part of the cloak hiding the multicultural myth and is nurtured throughout the story. Cleverly, Achebe does not attempt to hide the vicious customs of the clan behind euphemisms or complicated writing. Instead, he places taboo behavior in... ... middle of paper ... ...s the subdued condescension against the tribes customs and redirects it at a familiar government and law. Without realizing it, the readers are led to adopt the perspective of the tribe. For instance, the reader shares the justice with tribal members as they burn down a church in retaliation against the killing of a snake. The reader sides with the traditional symbol of evil, the snake, over the traditional symbol of goodness and God, the church. The reader’s empathy is further flamed with injustice as the characters are held accountable to colonial law for the crime. With each shared conviction between the reader and the tribe, the hidden multicultural myth is brought fully into view. By the end of the story, the reader’s opinion stands with the tribe and points a finger at a corrupt, European government for interfering with a natural, pure African culture.

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