Thursday, January 27, 2011

Achebe and Post-Colonial Questions

The Ashcroft essay on post-colonial literature made interesting points that connect well with the themes discussed in class regarding Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Ashcroft makes convincing points about the necessity of examining how well the traits of the oral culture of African societies such as the Igbo people described by Achebe are translated into English. Ashcroft states, “Post-colonial cultures have all, in various ways, been influenced by the interrelationship between orality and literacy.” This interrelationship is especially evident in Chinua Achebe’s writing. While he uses beautiful language to describe the action in Thing’s Fall Apart, he still holds true to the oral culture by utilizing syntax that gives the reader the feeling that the story is being told, not read.
Ashcroft also discusses the fact that a lot of post-colonial literature includes a contradiction of the assumed values that the reader holds. Ashcroft states, “the text contradicts its underlying assumptions and…and reveals its colonialist ideologies and processes.” This phenomenon occurs to a certain extent in Achebe’s novel. Achebe allows the reader to adopt the Igbo culture and begin to view Okonkwo as the poster-child of the tribal society, and then forces the reader to question these views when he shows Okonkwo’s downfall and exile. Also, Achebe’s portrayal of the white missionaries makes the reader question the intentions and values of the religious men that claim to be trying to make a positive difference.
Ashcroft makes it clear that post-colonialism forces the reader to answer difficult questions about the nature and effect that imperialism has on the subjected culture. While it is often assumed that the effects were positive in the long run, it is evident that the process of colonization was rarely smooth and problem free.

No comments:

Post a Comment