Chinua Achebe 1930 - Why study this African novel in a Literature of Western Civ class? Things Fall Apart – Historical Setting District Commissioner’s future book (final line of TFA): The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger Egwugwu near Awka, 1930s Nigeria Were the Igbo “primitive”?? • Ozo titles at least 1000 years old • Democratic – No tribal chiefs, only elders • Harmonic community Literary Setting – The Literature of Empire European literature of Africa • Grew up over 400 years • Fantastical, mythical Why would literature take up this portrayal? 1560s – European slave trade began 1700s – British trade with Africa entirely slaves 3 Challenges and Achievements in Things Fall Apart 1. Using English to write an oral culture • • Use of Igbo words Use of proverbs – – P. 2480 – proverb of the Mother Kite P. 2506 – proverb of the toad jumping in daylight 3 Challenges and Achievements in Things Fall Apart (cont’d) 2. Responding to the imperialist stereotypes of Africa – Achebe countering the imperialist view of the European “parent” to the African “child” (From Rudyard Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden” – 1899) Take up the White Man's burden-The savage wars of peace-Fill full the mouth of Famine And bid the sickness cease; 3 Challenges and Achievements in Things Fall Apart (cont’d) 3. Getting a Western reader to identify internally with the Igbo – Traditional life not romanticized – religion - see p. 2496 – Akunna and Mr. Brown Conrad and Achebe How well does Achebe portray European characters? Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart … Conrad A study of imperialists Achebe A study of Africans Achebe: “The psychological destruction of a few individuals has little prominence beside the material exploitation and cultural devastation of entire peoples.” Are Conrad and Achebe ultimately friends or enemies? Some Questions • Is Okonkwo justified in killing the colonial agent? – Should we view Okonkwo as a tragic hero? • Does this text teach us better how to live, especially in a global society? • Do things really “fall apart” in this novel?