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The European Colonization of Africans in Achebe’s Book “Things fall apart” Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Aug 20th, 2019

Introduction

Chinua Achebe published the book “Things fall apart” in 1958. The book’s theme is a description of the European colonization of Africans from an African perspective. The main character is Okonkwo who is a warrior and the village hero. It clearly describes arrival of missionaries in the Igbo community near the end of nineteenth century.

It shows how colonialism affected the Africans and their perspectives. The book was different from other African authored books in that it used the European literary tradition, which was very effective. It made a basis on which the other authors that followed took after.

Chinua Achebe created a link between the European and the common African. He used English rather than native languages commonly used after. Consequently, he was able to reach a wider audience though at the time most Africans were illiterate.

Criticism of the text

The book has faced numerous critics since its publication. For the last fifty years, these critics have somehow reduced the face value of the text in the book. The main criticism was that the book should have displayed more awareness of the art of African culture. In addition, it was evident that Achebe avoided European stereotypes and exoticism and their relationship with African’s image and individuality.

According to Achebe, it was evident that most African novel critics took novelistic realism at face value. The critics failed to recognize the more delicate workings of the texts they employed while overlooking the assumptions on which they are based on. Moreover, they fail to perceive that realism is an ism. In light of this, there have been various variations in the face value of the text in this book over the years.

On the other hand, the critics claim that Achebe’s main intention of writing this book was to emphasize that the pre-colonials spiritual beliefs were not inferior but only different from that of Europeans. For example, in the book, the practices and religious codes of Umuofia people have been unchallenged for ages. This forms another set of variation in the face value of the text in the book.

The book’s plot, characters, and structure form another source of criticism. Okonkwo as the main character is critical because he was a classical tragic hero. He has trouble in his life though he had a noble character. The book displays a classical hero having a tragic downfall because of the will of the gods.

The feminist critics on the other hand, noted that Achebe gave men cultural roles in the Igbo culture as opposed to women. In addition, these critics depicted that the text displayed a male dominated society. As a result, the face value of the text in the book has reduced as far as women are concerned.

Lessons learnt

These critics made a reader discover several things. First, it is important for Western readers to read the African literature sensitively. This would drastically reduce artistic and convections critics since they will understand the different social and historical background of African literature. In addition, the Western readers will change their perception towards Africans.

Literature is an art that gives the readers another perspective to life. It allows the writers to see realistic life in the sense that things do not go as expected. In this book, Achebe displays how life is unpredictable throughout the text. He does this by asserting that even a hero can have a weird or bad destiny.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The European Colonization of Africans in Achebe’s Book “Things fall apart”." August 20, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/things-fall-apart-by-chinua-achebe-3/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'The European Colonization of Africans in Achebe’s Book “Things fall apart”'. 20 August.

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