Emergence of Colonial Resistance in Things Fall Apart Term Paper

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Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe is one of the most influential and powerful writers of today, and he is also one of the most widely published writers today. Chinua Achebe has in fact written more than twenty-one novels, and short stories, and books of poetry as well, and his very first landmark work was "Things Fall apart," which was published in the year 1958, when the author was just twenty-eight years old. This work has proved to be popular not only in Nigeria, but also in the whole of Africa, as well as in the rest of the world. Chinua Achebe was born in the year 1930 in Nigeria, as the son of a Christian Churchman and his wife. He attended the Government College in Umuahia, and then went on to University College in Ibadan, after which he went on to the London University, where he received his BA. Chinua Achebe then went on to study broadcasting at the British Broadcasting Corporation in London. Margaret Laurence in her book entitled Long Drums and Cannons, Nigerian Dramatists and Novelists states that it was in the 1950's that Nigeria happened to witness a totally new literature, which is based on not only the traditional oral literature of the land, but also on the changing and modern times. (Chinua Achebe: New York State Writer's Institute)

And Chinua Achebe was one of the exponents of this form of literature, which combined the old and the new in a pleasing manner. This in fact is the reason that critics have over the years thought of Chinua Achebe as one of the finest of Nigerian novelists ever, and also one of the better novelists in the English language today, and unlike others who more often than not have to struggle for many years to gain a foothold into this world of the written word, Chinua Achebe has had an easier time of it, especially because he was never forced to imitate the various trends in English literature. Therefore, he has rejected the European idea that art need not be justified to anyone, and has instead adopted the idea that art as such must always serve man, as African tradition does, and any work of art must have an innate purpose, without which it has no meaning at all. This taste that Chinua Achebe exhibits for his native African context is most often demonstrated in his various works. (Chinua Achebe: New York State Writer's Institute)

"Things Fall apart" was published in the year 1958, and it is one of the better seminal African novels written in the English language. The work has managed to influence not only African literature, but also literature all over the entire world. The best part of the novel is where the author Chinua Achebe creates a complex and yet an extremely sympathetic portrait of a simple African village, and of the way of life in the village, in Africa. Achebe, it is obvious, is not only trying to make the outside world see and know more about African Ibo customs, but also to like them. He not only reminds his own people about their past, but also asserts and emphasizes on the fact that what the past of Africa had was of infinite value. This is because of an important reason, that many Africans of his time were all too ready to accept the European's judgment that Africa in general had nothing of no real value, and no culture and history that was worth considering by not only the rest of the world, but also within Africa. (Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart, Study guide)

Chinua Achebe also resents the fact that his country is often stereotyped as a 'primitive land', and the very 'heart of darkness', and through the work, he shows how African cultures vary even among themselves, and how they keep changing as time passes by. The author states that the basic inspiration for the novel Things Fall apart was the work by Joyce Cary wherein a black slave adores his white colonist a lot, and the boss finally shoots him to death, and the slave gives up his precious life gladly to him. This enraged Chinua Achebe, and prompted him into writing the work Things Fall Apart. The language of the work is simple, yet dignified and sedate, and the characters in the novel speak in an elevated diction, which is in fact meant to convey a sense of what the Ibo tribes speak like. The very choice of language is considered by critics as a brilliant masterstroke, perhaps because of the truth that in any earlier work that had African characters speaking in it, they would be reduced to speaking gibberish or Pidgin English, which would make no sense to anybody but to the characters. When the characters speak in a dignified manner in Things fall Apart, one gets a sense of the true nature of the African. (Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart, Study guide)

The novel Things Fall apart is set in the 1890's, and depicts in great detail the clashes that occurred between Nigeria's white colonial government, and the traditional lifestyles and cultures and traditions of the indigenous Ibo people who were living in Nigeria at the time. The author is careful in depicting the native African characters, and he sticks to a time before colonization and contacts with Europeans. These characters speak in a sedate and dignified manner, and they portray the various social and artistic institutions that were in existence in Africa before the Europeans happened to proliferate within Africa. However, Chinua Achebe is careful not to stereotype Europeans too, and he therefore resorts to a wide range of European characters, right from the kind and benevolent Mr. Brown, and the cruel and ruthless District Commissioner. The fact that the author was well educated in the English language, and was, at the same time, well versed in African customs and traditions, has allowed him to depict the vats range of characters within his novel, and has also allowed him to demonstrate the views of the Africans, as well as that of the Europeans on colonial resistance and expansion, and on religion, and also on culture in his work. (Things Fall Apart: Chinua Achebe)

In addition, the author's choice of English as the language for the work was an important one, because of the fact that it he wanted this particular novel to respond in English to earlier depictions of colonial Africa, and if it were in English, then he would be sure to gain a wider readership. Therefore, his choice of English was rather political. This was completely unlike some later African writers who felt that the only way in which to revitalize the native languages of Africa as a form of resistance to the colonial rule was to write in their own African languages, but Chinua Achebe did not believe in this concept; what he felt was that cultural revitalization of old African languages would only be possible through the English language, and within the same. This aspect in fact depicts the emergence of colonial resistance within the work Things Fall Apart, and the writer manages to capture the rhythm of the Igbo language within the novel, and he manages to integrate it within the work in such a clever way that the vocabulary and the very cadence of the Igbo is portrayed by the characters of the novel. (Things Fall Apart: Chinua Achebe)

The novel Things Fall Apart deals with the time in Nigeria when the waves of colonization started to wash over Africa. It deals with the life of an Igbo tribe of Nigeria, which is caught right in the cusp of the wave of colonization. The story is about Okonkwo, who is the son of a good for nothing individual, and the son is fiercely determined that he will not end up just like his own father. However, at the same time, the boy wishes to follow tradition and custom, and therefore, to rise in rank, within the tribe. However, 'things fall apart', and soon all the best laid plans that Okonkwo has hatched soon start to go astray. The setting being as it is in the turbulence of the first wave of colonization, the young boy is destined to lose the traditions and customs that he wants to follow, and gradually but surely, his plans fall apart, and he starts to lose his cherished tribal customs as his society basically falls apart with the arrival of the Europeans. (Things Fall Apart)

Gerald Moore in his work 'Seven African Writers' states that Chinua Achebe's primary goal in writing the novel Things Fall Apart was to recapture completely, the essence of the life of his tribe before the 'first touch of the white man' sent it falling and tumbling form the delicate equilibrium in which it was being maintained. Anyone who wishes to comprehend the novel must have this basic understanding about Things Fall Apart and its author before starting to…[continue]

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