Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart, set in the 1890s, depicts the controversy amongst Nigeria’s customary native Igbo customs and the plodding expanse of a different tradition, presented through the British colonisers. Since Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria and educated in Britain, this novel is the first novel about Africa written by an African writer in the English language. In illustrating the conflict amid traditions, the novelist focuses specific concentration concerning the portrayal of the features of both conflicting customs; Chinua Achebe endeavours to dispel stereotypes of African local communities, whilst nonetheless presenting diverse representations of the British pioneers.
As this narrative paints a patent discrepancy stuck among traditions, the novel may perhaps be ‘read and interpreted differently by two different readers’: the colonized Africans and the British colonizer. A key aspect which would predominantly contrast to the readers would be the insight of language along with the subsequent perception of the narrative.
In favour of the colonized, the language inside the novel would highlight that Africa exists as not a ‘primordial’ and still area.
Seeing as Chinua Achebe places a copious amount of Igbo terms without interpreting them, the writer displays that Igbo language conveys Igbo customs within an approach that English phrases can’t depict accurately. For instance, “When a man says yes his chi says yes also.” (Page19). The word “chi” is not interpreted for the reason that its English interpretation ‘one’s personal God’ would not express the denotation of the proverb candidly. This points out that the Igbo way of life cannot be understood wholly when viewed from a coloniser’s lens.
Okonkwo too indicates to his comrade Obierika: “Does the white man understand our custom about land?”, “How can he when he does not even speak our tongue?” (Page124).
Above the intricacy of only the “tongue” the reader happens to be presented towards the complexity of a system of languages. Such as, Mr. Brown’s translator communicates a faint like chalk and cheese language compared to Umuofians displaying that Africa stands built up of numerous minor countries, several traditions along with customs.
Moreover, Chinua Achebe too incorporates various proverbs, myths, as well as mantras from the Igbo language whilst interpreting them to English. The interpretation renders it viable for the reader to denote the perceptions which symbolise the tradition, yet expressing the patterns plus the constructs of the Igbo language, emphasising their exquisiteness coupled with creating an ampler proclamation counter to the continent being frequently described as ‘archaic’. Actually, his major aim with this novel stood to counteract stories that nattered of Africa as “a primitive and ingenuous thwart for Europe.” In place of the colonized reading, this novel could possibly generate liberation seeing that at last, there stands an endeavour to be authentic to Igbo customs.
Though, Chinua Achebe was the child of a Protestant missionary and established his education in English; he didn’t undergo the Ibo customs entirely at its proper origins. If truth be told, some could claim that Chinua Achebe was conveyed to recognise certain circumstances with a minor British partiality to consequently offer a portrayal of the Ibo traditions which isn’t entirely sincere to customs.
Being as ‘Things Fall Apart’ is written in English, it stays aimed to remain understood through an audience of English speaking readers, such as the British colonizers. In order to endeavour to describe the Ibo tradition the novel includes a glossary of, footnotes and expressions in English. To a British reader, this novel indicates the intricacy of the Ibo tongue which, though, can’t permanently be completely understood as interpretations frequently mitigate the manifold meanings of words.
Additionally, Chinua Achebe emphasizes the unfeasibility of absolute comprehension all through incidents in the novel. For instance, the colonizers require translators sequentially to apprehend the Ibo natives as well as converse. Yet, they still aren’t completely capable of understanding each other and interacting. This ironically suggests to the English speaking readers attempting to grasp the Ibo traditions with their own cultural views. Additionally, although the novel is infused with tales consecutively to show the lifeblood of the Ibo tradition, to the English speaking, these appear useless. While the colonized recognised these anecdotes as plausible descriptions of mental matters as well as accepted occurrences, the colonizers perceive the Ibo’s insight of the world as constrained to rudimentary values coupled with still not “modernized” by European impact.
An incident in Chapter 25 underlines the matter: the Commissioner, characterising the conventional colonizer, discloses the heading of the book concerning Africa which he is writing, ‘The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger’ and illuminates that what Achebe ensured devoted the entire novel to, Okonkwo’s tragedies, would perhaps form ‘an interesting paragraph or two’. This verifies that the colonizers observe Africa imprecisely, and all they perceived stands solely belittled to myths and humorous as well as entertaining stories. Nevertheless, a colonizer reading this novel may not sense the shady satire in the ending of the novel; the conclusion of ‘Things Fall Apart’ would be read as a moral build on behalf of everything that has stood narrated and again seen in a superficial approach. ‘A European account of Okonkwo would likely portray him as a grunting, cultureless savage who inexplicably and senselessly kills a messenger.’
Concisely, as this novel depicts several distinctions amid two contrasting customs, it could certainly be read and interpreted by two readers from the two distinct traditions being described: the colonized Africans and the British colonizer. What would majorly vary for the readers would be the reading of language: for the colonized this novel would predominantly be valid to certain significant features of the Ibo culture as there are unique terms plus stories comprised in the novel that prove the intricacy of the language and traditions. Though, for the colonizers, not wholly understanding the essence of the language, the novel may not provide the matching optimistic look. In actual fact, as the colonized would be alleviated that the narrators attempt to be proper to their culture, the colonizers may not be able to restrain to such trifling aspects and may even observe the novel as a compilation of inane folklore.
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