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Resistance and Negotiation: On Chinua Achebe’s Position of Writing in Things Fall Apart

Author LiYuanPing
Tutor ZengZhuQing
School Central South University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart colonial discourse the image of Africa Igbo culture and tradition resistance negotiation
Type Master's thesis
Year 2008
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As one of the most widely read African novelists and the first to be taken seriously by both African and European readers, the Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe is regarded as "the father of modern African literature." Most of his works are written with the theme: African politics, African culture and civilization in the pre-colonial period, and the influence upon African society brought by colonial rule and colonists. Chinua Achebe’s masterpiece Things Fall Apart has been regarded as an independence declaration of African national culture, pioneering the modern African literature. In Things Fall Apart, by portraying unique traditional cultural traditions in Africa, Achebe attempts to get rid of the stereotyped image of Africa in western world. He also attempts to explore the way-out for African development by elaborating the changes in Igbo with the invasion of colonists and analyzing the tragedy of Igbo’s disintegrationBy adopting post-colonial culture criticism, the author of the thesis attempts to analyze Achebe’s shift of narrative point of view between an "insider" and an "outsider" and to explore his writing position in counterattacking the representation of Africa in western discourse and reconstructing the African image.The thesis is composed of three chapters. Chapter 1 mainly discusses the representation of Africa in the colonial discourse. In colonial period, the power of discourse is possessed by the colonizers, which determines the images of Africa and Africans in western texts are "Othered." Therefore, by "telling the story of his own nation", African writer Achebe aims to counterattack the distorted description of Africa by the West. Chapter 2 elaborates Achebe’s redress of the image of Africa in the western discourse. By taking advantage of the role of an "insider," Achebe demonstrates the sophisticated culture inside the Africa and depicts the positive image of African people, thus resisting the distorted representation of Africa in colonial discourse. Besides, by indigenizing the English, the language of the colonizers, Achebe gives a powerful attack to the colonial discourse. Chapter 3 explores Achebe’s doubts and introspection on African traditioanl culture. By shifting his narrative perspective from "insider" to "outsider," Achebe objectively exposes certain flaws in the tribe and tribal people, and explores the reasons leading to the disintegration of African culture.Through the above analysis, Achebe’s efforts to counterattack and get rid of the distorted and stereotyped image of Africa in western discourse by his statement of African unique social reality can be clearly shown. Meanwhile, Achebe also introspects the dark side of African culture, reflects on the outlet for Africa development and argues that only by persisting in their national culture, winning national dignity and absorbing the essence of western civilization can a new Africa be built.

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