Image Of Africa In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

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Chinua Achebe did not initially set out to write a novel that emphasized the triumphs of African culture. Nor did Achebe embark on a campaign of denigrating slander towards European attitudes. Achebe’s contentious novel Things Fall Apart situates itself post-colonially and, having been written in 1958, the novel came at a time of racially charged civil rights movements. Chinua Achebe remarked upon the injustice of Eurocentric African literature prior to writing his infamous novel. For example, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness received a forthright critique from Achebe over the evident racism laced within the novels wholeness due to its depictions of generic Africans as barbaric cannibals running wild with animalistic tendencies. The once highly …show more content…
His essay “Image of Africa” takes a more direct look at the harmful impact of colonial European literature and how Africa is depicted in most prominent literary works such as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Influenced by Conrad’s representation of Africa as “the other world”, Achebe argues that Africa is commonly viewed as a sharp contrasting image to Europe and therefore civilization, intelligence, and refinement (Achebe 1785). Achebe’s stance against this representation of Africa in an extremely renowned book was a contemporary viewpoint at the time. Racism has been an inherent part of common thought for centuries. The employment of overall discrimination resulted from a perceived ability for one group of people to thrive while the other depleted i.e. Europeans and Africans respectively. By perpetrating a belief in superiority of color, culture, class, and creed a bigoted and harmful discourse was created that allotted many British Europeans conceit in their stature and revulsion to anyone different. Achebe was able to dissect this discourse in “Image of Africa” by thoroughly examining Conrad’s use of language in his novel and pinpoint exact racism. Referring to Africans as the other, as unearthly, and as “black shadows of disease and starvation” is if not unequivocal then compelling literary evidence that Conrad was indeed racist (Achebe 1789). The purpose in recognizing a bias in this piece was condemning imperial exploitation and unconscious bigotry in colonial works. By commenting on discriminatory literature, Achebe opened up a realm of previously silent displeasure over unwarranted depictions of the

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