A Man of the People Literary Techniques

Chinua Achebe

Literary Techniques

Achebe has been much commended for his creation and use of his naive narrator, Odili. Like Gulliver, he is a good reporter but not always a good interpreter of what he sees, and he is instrumental in creating irony and providing a satirical view of much of the action of the novel. That he is well on the way to a political career himself by the book's end is no small part of the irony.

There is obvious humor in Achebe's choice of names for the political parties, P.O.P. and P.A.P. The seriously taken political party, C.P.C. started by Max cannot be reduced to such an acronym. Political satire extends to the blundering delivery and repossession of stones and pipes for village sewer and waterworks building. A character whom the villagers have named "Couple" (ironic probably because the pipes never do get coupled), an ex con, has become a councilor and politician. He sells the villagers stones, carries them away at night, and then resells them. With Swiftian undertones, the narrator calls the project the "pipe borne water scheme."

Plot situations are cleverly used as well to further the satire on the manner and mores of 1960s Nigeria. The narrator feels cuckolded when he is not really married; he selects body guards like his rival Nanga, and then is beaten into unconsciousness by Koko's thugs. When Nanga wins the election, ironically shortly before the coup that brings him down, he tries to disband his private army, but they rebel in skirmish against Dogo, cutting off one of the one-eyed man's ears (that both body guards in the book are missing body parts themselves is yet another of Achebe's brilliant side...

(The entire section is 667 words.)