Images of Africans in Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness
In my reading of Things Fall Apart, it has better informed me of a culture that I did not know of before, and by reading it helped correct some broad misconceptions that I previously held of the people and their cultures of Africa. Reading the novel also gave me another perspective on the effects of imperialism/colonialism by the Europeans on the Africans. I believe Achebe has succeeded in enabling the West an opportunity to have them "listen to the weak" (Achebe interview), but whether or not Western society decides to listen will come down to the individual within the society--if they do choose to listen to the call of the "weak." In this essay I will share realizations that I gained by reading Achebe's novel, and how I came to view the people of the Igbo and Africa and not so different as I had thought before.
The distinct writing style that Achebe used to narrate his novel led me, as the reader, to feel as if I were a fellow tribesman of the Igbo people. This differing perspective, rather than being an outsider looking in on the people, led me to see that the Igbos are a people with strong beliefs, culture, and identity. An example of their identity is the description of one of their dwellings, more specifically of Okonkwo's compound; it is described as a "large compound enclosed by a thick wall of red earth" and we read further on about the barn for Okonkwo's yams and the shed for his goats (1429). The Igbo people are obviously agrarian, and led me to the question, how different are they from us? My answer is, there are not a lot of differenes. Based upon my experience--my father was raised on a farm--I see stark similarities between us and them. We have since placed their "thick wall of red earth" with a white picket fence around our "cracker jack box" houses, and on my grandparents' farm they had distinct buildings for their livestock too, a barn for their cows and hay, and a separate barn for their sheep--just as Okonkwo had for his yams and goats.
When I came to realize that the Igbo people aren't that much different from us, I looked for further examples that supported my belief. For examples, at the first reading of the ritual of breaking the kola nut and drinking palm wine, during the visit of a guest or during a festive occasion, I was intrigued but then understood its principle by relating it back to our culture. Do we not have similar customs, of asking a friend whom we haven't seen in a while if she would like to "go out and get a beer," of when we go to a party to bring some "party favors" to share with people? There are other examples of positive similarities, but I then decided to focus on the faults we have in common with the Igbo.
A rather hilarious fault of the Igbos/Africans is their misinterpretation of what white people looked like. They believed that white people had "no toes" (1453). This misperception was due to all of their ideas of...