Chinua Achebe and White People Essay examples

Submitted By boucher16
Words: 8707
Pages: 35

Södertörns högskola | Institutionen för Utbildningsvetenskap
Kandidat/Magisteruppsats 15 hp | Engelska med didaktisk inriktning|
Vårterminen 2008

Chinua Achebe & Joseph
Conrad
– A comparison of two authors who present
Africa in different ways.

By: Martin Saffo
Handledare: Kerstin Shands

Contents
Introduction

3

Chinua Achebe – Things Fall Apart

3

Joseph Conrad – Heart of Darkness

5

Criticism of Conrad

7

Criticism of Achebe

8

Colonialism, imperialism and politics in Africa

10

Realism – a form rather than method

13

Conclusion

15

Works Cited

19

2

Introduction – thesis statement and approach
In this essay I will focus on the realism of two well known novels. My main aim with this essay will be to compare Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Chinua
Achebe's Things Fall Apart. Both books deal with colonialism and imperialism in one way or another and that is a subject that I will present in the essay. I feel that in order to make the comparison as valid as possible I need to bring in some research on Africa in order to know what Africa was like during the time period described. After this contextualisation it will be easier to see which of the two authors who gives us the most realistic view of Africa. Another area I will discuss concerns aspects that may have had an effect on the two author’s view of
Africa, such as racial issues. The theme racial issues will be a big part of this essay. The focus will mostly lie on the racial perspectives of both novels and how the white people treated the Africans. All of this leads to my main questions, which can be formulated thus: which author gives us the most realistic view of Africa, and what effects do their writings really have?
I will explore answers to my questions with the help of literary theories of realism and the sociology of literature. Building on these theories I will look for reference points in the two novels, Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart. I will also present some of the criticism that the authors have received for these novels. It will be interesting to see if the criticism is similar, but also to see why Achebe criticizes Conrad.

Chinua Achebe – Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is a very interesting book. The story takes place in Africa during the time of colonialism. In this novel we follow the life of a man named Okonkwo and his experience of the colonisation of Africa. The book is divided into three parts. Part one is about Okonkwo's life in his tribe and about how successful he was until he committed an awful crime by mistake. In part one we are introduced to African culture through Achebe’s description of the Ibo tribe. One may think that these Africans are savages, but actually they had many great abilities. The art of conversation and the use of proverbs are regarded very highly by this tribe. We also read about their clothing and food customs. Another thing that is good with part one and the description of the tribe is that
Achebe is realistic. He does not try to make the Ibo-tribe look good, instead he shows us their good and bad sides, if one is allowed to call them that. One thing that makes the reader think of the people in the tribe as savages is some of their customs. When a man returns from war

3

with the head of the enemy he is celebrated, somehow that gives you the impression that the people are not satisfied with just protecting their village. They want to kill their enemies and do it brutally.
Young girls are treated like trading goods, which is another bad thing. When a crime has been committed affecting different clans, a meeting is held and the clans decide if they will go to war with each other or if the clan affected will have a compensation for the crime that was committed against them. The compensation may be that the clan receives a young girl who is a virgin or, sometimes, a boy who can be helpful during working seasons.
Sick people are not treated, instead they are put in to exile and…