Conversion Tactics of Mr Brown Term Paper

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Our Lord Himself stressed the importance of fewness...Our Lord used the whip only once in His life -- to drive the crowd away from the Church."(Achebe, 169)

On the other hand, Mr. Brown seems to have an overall positive contribution to the African community. Nevertheless, the author ironically implies that there is indeed only a difference in method between the two missionaries, and the decline of the Igbo culture already began under the more lenient government of Mr. Brown. For example, the school he builds can be seen as another way to indoctrinate the clan. This school is in fact the cause of other conflicts inside the Igbo community, since by attending this school an Igbo could become a 'court messenger', that is someone that would report and give out information from inside the clan to the white governors: "Mr. Brown's school produced quick results. A few months in it were enough to make one a court messenger or even a court clerk. Those who stayed longer became teachers: and from Umuofia laborers went forth into the Lord's vineyard. New churches were established in the surrounding villages and a few schools with them. From the very beginning religion and education went hand in hand." (Achebe, 166) Moreover, it is hard to speak of 'success' with any of these missionaries, since the author shows that what is achieved through the conversions and the indoctrination, is merely a deepening of the gap between the two cultures, the white and the African. The Igbo people do not understand the new religion, but merely associate it with their own views of the world, a fact that shows the complete inadequacy of preaching it in the first place: "It was not the mad logic of the Trinity that captivated him. He did not understand it. It was the poetry of the new religion, something felt in the marrow" (Achebe, 137) the irony of Achebe is obvious: through various methods, exemplified by the two missionaries, the white man insinuated his own culture in the African culture. Mr. Brown's soft tactic and Mr. Smith's loud one, have essentially the same effect of creating confusion and conflict among the Igbo people and thus, by bringing them apart, undermining the African culture itself: "The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart." (Achebe, 152) the conclusion is thus given by Achebe himself: Mr. Brown uses soft methods to convert the Igbo people, while Mr. Smith is a true religious tyrant, but both of them serve the same end eventually and bring destruction on the Nigerian tribe. Neither of them succeeds in anything more than causing things to fall apart by trying to 'civilize' the Africans. The ending of the novel is a culmination of the author's irony: the District Commissioner intends to write a book on the events that had taken place in Achebe's own novel: "The story of this man who had killed the messenger and hanged himself would make interesting reading. One could almost write a whole chapter on him. Perhaps not a whole chapter but a reasonable paragraph, at any rate. There was so much else to include, and one must be firm in cutting out details. He had already chosen the title of the book, after much thought: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger. (Achebe, 191) the book that the Commissioner intends to write about Africa includes a small paragraph about Okonkwo's life (for which Achebe needed more than two hundred pages), proving the misunderstanding of the white people of the complex African culture. Okonkwo's tragedy described in Achebe's book is thus the tragedy of the Igbo culture itself that falls apart under the new dominating white wave. Mr. Brown and Mr. Smith are both instruments for this destruction. The "pacification of the primitive tribes" is a typical phrase for the colonialist who were convinced that the African were savage people who needed their salvation, while Achebe's book proves exactly the opposite, through the insight into real African tradition.

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua.…[continue]

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