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Things fall apart essay.docx

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1 Damian Elkinson 997644571 Professor Nick Mount Q.18 ENG140Y1 November 16 2012 Why does Things Fall Apart end with the perspective of the District Commissioner? How does this conclusion affect the novel as a whole? The novel ends with the perspective of the District Commissioner in order to convey to the reader the racist and inhuman nature of colonialism. This conclusion affects the novel as a whole because it trivializes the struggles of Okonkwo, his village and the entire cultural heritage of Africa. The concluding paragraphs inAchebe’s novel, ‘Things Fall Apart’, display the racism and bigotry of the western colonialists. This is made clear through several instances in the final chapter of the novel. “The story of this man who had killed a messenger and hanged himself would make interesting reading. One could almost write a whole chapter on him. Perhaps not a whole chapter but a reasonable paragraph, at any rate.” (Achebe 208-209). The commissioner intends to write a book documenting the Ibo culture. He is unaware, and likely uninterested in knowing the full story of Okonkwo’s life. “one must be firm in cutting out the details.” (Achebe 209) Okonkwo had just realized that his tribe was doomed because of their weakness. He decided to take his own 2 life as a result of a lifelong struggle to help his clan by being a strong and hardworking man, in an attempt to distance himself from his weak and unsuccessful father’s reputation. The point I am making here is that Okonkwo’s tragic life story is a rather complex and heartfelt one.Achebe spends 24 chapters developing Okonkwo’s character only to have some white colonialist sum up his troubled life in a “reasonable paragraph”. This shows the Commissioner’s racist attitude towardAfrican people. In his mind, African people are savages and less human than whites. He does not respect them as he would his own people. Therefore, their lives are trivialized and condensed into short summaries in his book. ‘The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger’ (Achebe – 209) is to be the title of The District Commissioner’s book. The rather drawn-out and humdrum title, perhaps hints at the dull and pragmatic ideology of the western conqueror. “Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger” seems tacked on to the beginning part of the title, as though it is one of many similar occurrences. It highlights the fact that “pacifying tribes” seems to be an ordinary occurrence in the life of a crusader of the western empire. The title is also heavily ironic. The use of the word “Pacification” showcases the Commissioner’s close-minded view that he believes he is bringing peace and stability into the Igbo culture when in fact his presence brings just the opposite to the humble African village. He and his colonialist cohorts are the source of the Clan’s misery.Adding to the irony is the fact that the Commissioner considers the tribes to be “primitive”. While from a technological standpoint this may be true, the colonialist fails to realize that forcibly conquering other countries through aggression is what is truly primitive and 3 animalistic. Furthermore, by referring to the “Tribes of the Lower Niger”, the Commissioner has grouped together many neighboring clans with distinct customs and traditions into one group. These points all provide further evidence for my argument. The District Commissioner comes up with this title for his book after “much thought”. (Achebe – 209). From the speaker’s perspective he is suggesting that the reader should sympathize, or at least understand that it took a great deal of effort to arrive at such a title.Achebe clever
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