Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ashcroft and Structure in Achebe

Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin endorse a variety of intriguing concepts regarding post-colonialism and the subsequent works that come out of it. As stated in class, Achebe was viewed as somewhat of a revolutionary, being the first to depict the colonized in a lens unique and specific to their particular culture. As Ashcroft states in Key Concepts to Post-Colonial Studies, “Post-colonialism deals with the affects of colonization on cultures and societies,” (186).

One aspect of Achebe’s novel that indicates, reflects and embodies post-colonialism is its structure. Intricately divided into three parts, Achebe uses the structure of the novel to indicate its inherent post-colonialist roots. The first part is by far the longest of the novel, and is laden with proverbs, characterization of Okonkwo and general insight into the Igbo culture. This part of the novel is meant to serve as a snapshot of what the Igbo culture was like pre-colonialism. This is important in establishing context so the reader can aptly analyze parts II and III through a post-colonial lens.

Parts II and III reveal a marked change in the culture of the Igbo and the novel itself. Achebe’s ability to mobilize his story across the post-colonialist spectrum is paramount to understanding Things Fall Apart and post-colonialist as a whole. The disparity in structure, language, length, themes, tropes and characters between Part I and Parts II, III is startling and reflects the affect of colonization on the Igbo. Another aspect Ashcroft discusses is the uniqueness of each individual post-colonialist work. Although each account may need to be culture specific, as Achebe points out, the key to a great post-colonial work is focusing on connecting the common human elements inherent to all people.

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