Essay Comparing Things Fall Apart And The Second Coming

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While technologically unsophisticated, the Igbo culture is revealed to the reader as remarkably complex.

Furthermore, Things Fall Apart ironically reverses the style of novels by such writers as Conrad and Cary, who created flat and stereotypical African characters.

References to page numbers below are from the edition used in HUM 211 Cultures & Literatures of Africa: Achebe, Chinua. [First published 1958.] Expanded edition with notes.1996.

"Achebe's Sense of an Ending: History and Tragedy in Things Fall Apart." Studies in the Novel 29.3(Fall 1997): 396(16pp). Infotrac 2000 Expanded Academic ASAP: Article A20503127; and EBSCOHost Academic Search Elite: Article No. NOTE: Conrad's Heart of Darkness, esteemed a classic of Western literature, is widely reprinted and frequently appears in anthologies of English and Western world literature.

Instead, Achebe stereotypes the white colonialists as rigid, most with imperialistic intentions, whereas the Igbos are highly individual, many of them open to new ideas.

But readers should note that Achebe is not presenting Igbo culture as faultless and idyllic.Achebe's role in making modern African literature a part of world literature cannot be understated.Note: Throughout this novel, Achebe uses the spelling Ibo, the old spelling of the Umuofian community.On the contrary, Achebe urges students to read such works in order to better understand the racism of the colonial era. The District Commissioner, on the other hand, prides himself on being a student of primitive customs and sees himself as a benevolent leader who has only the best intentions for pacifying the primitive tribes and bringing them into the modern era.Achebe also kept in mind his own Nigerian people as an audience. Both men would express surprise if anyone suggested to them that their European values may not be entirely appropriate for these societies.Many European writers have presented the continent as a dark place inhabited by people with impenetrable, primitive minds; Achebe considers this reductionist portrayal of Africa racist. In Things Fall Apart, the Europeans' understanding of Africa is particularly exemplified in two characters: the Reverend James Smith and the unnamed District Commissioner. Smith sees no need to compromise on unquestionable religious doctrine or practices, even during their introduction to a society very different from his own.He points to Conrad, who wrote against imperialism but reduced Africans to mysterious, animalistic, and exotic "others." In an interview published in 1994, Achebe explains that his anger about the inaccurate portrayal of African culture by white colonial writers does not imply that students should not read works by Conrad or Cary. He simply does not recognize any benefit for allowing the Nigerians to retain elements of their heritage.The novel has been adapted for productions on the stage, on the radio, and on television.Teachers in high schools, colleges, and graduate schools use the novel as a textbook in many types of classes — from history and social studies to comparative literature and anthropology.The novel takes its title from a verse in the poem "The Second Coming" by W. Yeats, an Irish poet, essayist, and dramatist: Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.In this poem — ironically, a product of European thought — Yeats describes an apocalyptic vision in which the world collapses into anarchy because of an internal flaw in humanity.


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