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“Civil Peace” by Chinua Achebe has its main character an optimist. Jonathan Iwegbu from the first word of the story has a surprisingly happy outlook despite the hardships he and his family and the rest of the county have suffered from the Biafra War.
Jonathan attributes his positive outlook to the survival of most of his family. The mantra that the protagonist lives by is that “Nothing puzzles God.” Despite his losses, he feels lucky to have his house make it through with little damage. He is no longer able to work in the coal mines; however, this does not stop him.
The setting for the story is Nigeria after the civil war. The narration is third person point of view. The language for the story hints of both African dialect and British English.
Jonathan uses his bicycle as a taxi to make money. He made one hundred and fifty pounds. All of the family works hard to try to return to normalcy. The children pick and sell fruit. Jonathan receives an “egg rasher” which means a favor for returning currency to the government. In exchange, they give him twenty pounds of legal money.
The next night criminals show up at his house.
“What do you want from me? I am a poor man. Everything I had went with this war. Why do you come to me? You know people who have money...”
They tell him they want his one hundred pounds. He tries to tell them that he does not have that much money.
“OK. Time de go. Make you open dis window and bring the twenty pound. We go manage am like dat.”
The robbers come in and take his twenty pounds. This could have been a lethal incident, but luckily, all the robbers do is take the money.
After the theft, life returns to some normalcy for the family. Jonathan keeps his principle in mind: “Nothing puzzles God.” To him, as long as he has his family and his house, Jonathan will keep his optimistic attitude. He has placed his life in the hands of God.
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