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Why did Chinua Achebe write Things Fall Apart?

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mcsamai | Honors

Posted November 27, 2013 at 11:24 PM via web

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Why did Chinua Achebe write Things Fall Apart?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 28, 2013 at 12:24 AM (Answer #1)

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Part of what motivated Achebe to write Things Fall Apart was the desire to capture the voice of indigenous African identity. Achebe was fascinated with living in Lagos, an area in which he was able to see the collision between old and new notions of African identity.  At the same time, Achebe recognized that the post- colonial condition of Africa demanded the emergence of new voice.  The traditional voice in African literature was driven by European visions of what Africa was.  The "African savage" and the notion that Africans were "uncivilized" in village life were aspects of what drove Achebe to configure something new.  The construction of a village identity in Africa which repudiates European construction of African identity is something that lingers in Achebe's mind as he takes in Lagos as well as the new condition of freedom that was a part of modern Africa.  These become the motivating forces behind why Achebe sought to write Things Fall Apart. Achebe understood that there needed to be a more indigenous voice to African literature.  He recognized that the way in which Africa was depicted through the eyes of a European had to be countered with an alternate vision of reality:  "Africa up as a foil to Europe, as a place of negations at once remote and vaguely familiar, in comparison with which Europe's own state of spiritual grace will be manifest." For Achebe, the need to depict a condition of being that was more "complex" and intricate helped to motivate his writing of Things Fall Apart.

It is with this in mind that Achebe conceives of the novel.  To avert the European construction of Africa as a realm of "negation" becomes one of the major factors in the novel's conception.  Things Fall Apart is where Achebe combines the traditional aspects of African identity into a setting in which the new is constructed.  The result is that a narrative emerges that is reflective of the indigenous African experience.  The desire to establish this is a motivating factor in Achebe's writing of Things Fall Apart

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