Different Writing Styles in the African Trilogy by Chinua Achebe


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An Author’s writing style choices can affect or enhance how the story plays out. In his, African Trilogy Chinua Achebe uses different writing styles throughout his novels. Chinua Achebe uses different writing styles such as symbolism, setting, and foreshadowing, to somewhat indirectly express ideas such as the decline of African power, the decline of traditional values, and the downfall of characters.

In his trilogy series, Chinua Achebe uses the arrival of the European colonizer’s arrivals as a symbol for the weakening of African Power. In “Things Fall Apart” both the locusts and Okonkwo’s death are symbols of how European encounters brought the defeat of the African lifestyle. The arrival of Locusts is something that causes crops to fail, they harm the land “At first a fairly small swarm came… They settled on every tree and on every blade of grass… mighty tree branches broke away under them, and the whole country became the brown-earth color of the vast, hungry swarm” (Things Fall Apart 56). The locusts are like the arrival of the Europeans they first come small, but then they feed off and drain the land and bring destruction much like how the Europeans came slowly into Umuofia and caused destruction, weakened the power of the heads of Umuofia and brought the fall of the villagers. Also, as Okonkwo dies the African lifestyle dies because Oknonkwo represented old values and when he passed, they passe don with him. Also, in “Arrow of God” the “white man” breaking the guns “The white man was not satisfied that he had stopped the war. He gathered all the guns in Umuaro and asked the soldiers to break them in the face of all, except three or four which he carried away” (Arrow of God 11/12). The coming in of the foreigners leads to this action which symbolizes how the Europeans have come and made the people feel inferior to the man. This action weakens the men of Umuaro and makes them helpless and unable to participate in a war. In conclusion, Chinua Achebe uses symbolism in his books to demonstrate the weakening effect the colonizers brought the Africans.

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In both “No Longer at Ease” and “Arrow of God” Chinua Achebe uses settings that contrast themselves to show how these two different worlds are influenced and how it affects traditional values. At the points when we are introduced to both novels, colonization has already taken place a couple of decades beforehand. In “No Longer at Ease” we have two main locations which are Obi’s native village Umuofia and the city of Lagos. The contrast between Urban and Rural life serves to show how traditional values can be tested when away from one’s native land. In the book, Obi’s traditional values are more set in his village with his parents who own them close tot heir heart. Meanwhile, city life is freer and less grounded in traditions and beliefs because Lagos is populated by both Africans and Europeans. By using these contrasting locations Achebe shows how those in the rural areas such as Umuofia hold on to and respect traditional values, but those who live in rural areas like Lagos are hustling and working so they can attain high positions and earn approval from westerners and obtain western values such as lavish lifestyles. In “Arrow of God” the two contrasting settings are in the village of Umuaro and the British colonial station. The idea here is similar to that in “No Longer at Ease” wherein the rural area traditions are held firmly onto, whereas in the more “urbanized” area African traditions aren’t present. The people of Umuaro are more focused on how to live their traditional Igbo lives, including worshipping their god, which ends up fading after contact with Europeans, meanwhile, those in the colonial station are more focused on getting tactics for rule and how to have power and control. In conclusion, Chinua Achebe uses contrasting settings to show how traditional values are less important in Urban areas than Rural areas.

In “Things Fall Apart” and “No Longer at Ease” Chinua Achebe uses foreshadowing to provide the reader with clues about what will happen later on in his novels. First, the names of both novels foreshadow what will happen in the book. In “Things Fall Apart” everything comes crashing down as said in the title and in “No Longer at Ease” the main character does end up no having peace at the end of the book. In “Things Fall Apart” when the reader is first introduced to Ikemefuna, there is something particular about how the narrator chooses to introduce him “And that was how he came to look after the doomed lad who was sacrificed to the village of Umuofia by their neighbors to avoid war and bloodshed. The ill-fated lad was called Ikemefuna” (Things Fall Apart 8). From the moment the reader meets Ikemefuna, it is obvious he will have a bad ending because he is introduced as the ill-fated lad. Achebe uses this sentence to make the reader think later on something bad will happen to Ikemefuna, and something bad does happen, the young boy dies at the hands of Okonkwo himself. In “No Longer at Ease” Obi giving in to bribery is foreshadowed because at the beginning of the book Obi is on trial for an action the reader doesn’t know. Achebe starts with this so as the reader is going through the novel, they can see all the points that Obi might fall. The reader is constantly seeing Obi in debt with no way to get out of it, meaning he will fall into bribery like many other men because corruption is nothing new in Lagos. This is evident even when Obi comes to Nigeria a busboy tries to bribe him “I can be able to reduce it to two pounds for you…I fit do it, but you no get government receipt” (No Longer at Ease 28). This quote shows how many are already into bribery and deception, meaning even Obi himself who is constantly in debt may fall into it as well. In conclusion, Chinua Achebe uses foreshadowing to tease the reader about the downfall of characters.

In conclusion, Chinua Achebe uses different writing styles such as symbolism, setting, and foreshadowing, to enhance things such as African power, traditional values, and the downfall of characters in his trilogy series.

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