Why did Chinua Achebe write the novel Things Fall Apart?

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dashing-danny-dillinger | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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Obviously Chinua Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart for a multitude of reasons. He found it a fulfilling creative exercise to write novels such as Things Fall Apart and he spent the remainder of his life writing stellar pieces of fiction, poetry, and criticism. However, I argue that one reason that he wrote the text that could be overlooked is that he wanted to provide the world of literature with an authentically Nigerian perspective. For too long, the continent of Africa was grouped as one entity and used by Western writers to denote a dark, savage world distinctly set apart from the rest of the world. In his hugely influential An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Achebe tackles this narrow, restrictive view of Africa by approaching Joseph Conrad’s classic Heart of Darkness:

Heart of Darkness projects the image of Africa as 'the other world,' the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilization, a place where man's vaunted intelligence and refinement are finally mocked by triumphant bestiality” (1614).

Thus, I argue that Achebe wrote and published Things Fall Apart in an effort to counteract racist depictions of Africa. He wanted to demonstrate that he was a nuanced, authentic Nigerian voice telling an authentic Nigerian story about the intrusive nature of colonialism.

I pulled my textual evidence from The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, 2nd ed.

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