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Why did Achebe choose to use an objective 3rd-person point of view? How might the novel...

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peluza74 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted February 26, 2008 at 9:18 AM via web

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Why did Achebe choose to use an objective 3rd-person point of view? How might the novel be different if it were told from Okonkwo’s perspective?

Why do you think Achebe chose to use an objective third-person point of view for this novel? How might the novel be different if it were told from Okonkwo’s perspective? Give examples to support your answer

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jlcannad | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted April 22, 2008 at 7:23 AM (Answer #1)

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The third person point of view keeps the reader from every totally identifying with Okonkwo. When he does something truly reprehensible (like killing Ikemafuna), we don't see his justifications and beliefs. We don't see whether he believes he has to kill the boy to save him from more pain or whether it's old fashioned pride and ignorance that leads him to do the act. Without that "internal" monologue, we are forced to make moral judgments for ourselves. Where is Okonkwo justified? Which of his acts of violence are committed with good intentions, and which are done out of evil?

If this story had been told from Okonkwo's point of view, we would have been more likely as readers to understand, and therefore side with, any number of choices. And if this had been told from Okonswo's position, then when the white people showed up, the reader would have been less likely to identify with the invaders. Written as it is, I know that I identify with the missionaries and their desire to make this world better--to end the abuse of women and the murder of twins. However, by allowing me to identify with the invaders, I feel even worse when their misunderstandings destroy Okonkwo and leave his death nothing more than a footnote in a white man's book.

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