Essay On Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart is the debut novel by Chinua Achebe which is about the land of Ibo in Nigeria. The author has reflected the culture, traditions, history and the typical life of this African village. This novel was published in 1958. She has written Things Fall Apart in response to the European novels, which regarded Africans as savages and emphasized on the need of enlightening and civilizing them. She has set the novel in Nigerian outskirts before the white missionaries colonized this place.
The passage selected for the analysis also revolves around the same theme of imperial discourses and Africa.
“And at last the locusts did descend. They settled on every tree and on every blade of grass; they settled on the roofs and covered the bare ground. Mighty tree branches broke away under them, and the whole country became the brown-earth color of the vast, hungry swarm”
Europeans always took Africans as sub humans. The use of the term “primitives” for them is a subtle insult to their culture, civilization and ethnicity. The above passage is taken from Chapter 7 which symbolizes the arrival of colonizers. The context is allegorical with symbolic significance which lies in the Western imperialism and their lust to control. The author has already speculated the terrible consequences on the culture, civilization and society of Igbo which are likely to occur right after the inevitable arrival. The repetition of the phrase “they settled” is an excellent example of rhetorical device anaphora and directs the attention of the readers towards the actual purpose of missioners. The use of term locusts is a metaphor used for the imperialists which were about to attack the peaceful village of Africa. The repetition of the word “every” also comprehends the sudden ubiquitous locusts. Both the words reflect the colonizers, their arrival and presence.
These conceptions and ideas are related to the previous themes in the story. For example “The lizard that jumped from the high iroko tree to the ground said he would praise himself if no one else did.” (Achebe, p.21) interprets the same nature of white people who would do anything to gain control on so called savages. This ironical behavior can be linked with the habitual European hypocrisy as they pretend to be the great protagonists of cultural relativism. Every culture in its own context is best and no one has the right to categorize the societies into savages, barbarism and civilization based on their own ethnocentric judgments. None of the society is superior or inferior. Europeans have the history of imperialism and their urge to rule with power actually makes them savages instead of Africans.
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor Books, 1959.