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Things Fall Apart (District Commissioner Passage Analysis)

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Introduction

Things Fall Apart Re-read pages 170-171 from 'Three days later...' to '...knock their shaven heads together.' How does Achebe's writing here make you feel about the District Commissioner and his messengers? During this passage, Okonkwo and the fellow leaders of Umuofia are sent called for and once asked for their part in the burning of the church are handcuffed and sent to prison, where they are maltreated. As a reader one feels compassion fro Okonkwo and his fellow kinsmen and in this essay I will be exploring the ways in which Achebe makes the reader feel about the District Commissioner and his messengers. The messengers treatment of the clansmen makes the reader feel angry towards them. Their blatant disregard for their superiors' wishes 'to treat the men with respect' is shocking as they take matters into their own hands. Their saluting and acknowledgement of the District Commissioner's wishes is hypocritical as they neglect this and this disrespect is unusual as the Igbo people value men with status and would do anything to disrespect them. ...read more.

Middle

'They were not given any water to drink... could not go out and urinate.' By stripping these Umuofian men of.their dignity in this way by starving and depriving them of a chance to relieve themselves makes the messengers seem even more disrespectful in the eyes of the reader. The 'sweet-tongued' speech of the District Commissioner makes the reader feel sorry for the Igbo leaders. 'The tortoise had a sweet tongue.' In this story, the Igbo people are reminded to be wary of those who are great orators, more so those with ulterior motives. The District Commissioner addresses the men as 'friends' and wants to hear their side of the story. However the Igbo leaders are 'handcuffed and led into the guardroom,' after this. This betrayal of the men by the District Commissioner makes the reader feel as if the District Commissioner is a devious man. He lures them into a sense of false security but his tone using words such as 'I have decided,' and 'I want,' is not a voice used with friends and it is very rude. ...read more.

Conclusion

The symbols used in Achebe's writing here are very important. The leaders of Umuofia are outnumbered 'with twelve men' to their six. This is similar to the biblical betrayal of Jesus by Judas with the twelve disciples. The twelve disciples being the twelve messengers and the District Commissioner thinking of himself as a Jesus figure with his declaration of somehow coming to save the Igbo people. 'If any man ill-treats you we shall come to your rescue.' His overconfidence is visible here, however with his hypocrisy and betrayal of the Igbo men's trust, he is likened to a Judas figure. In conclusion, Achebe uses many different ways of showing the District Commissioner in a pompous, self-righteous and deceitful manner, and his messengers as brutal worker of the District Commissioner and whom without power decide to take matters into their own hands. In spite of this, I believe that it is the ignorance portrayed in this passage that is Achebe's most successful way of depicting the District Commissioner in a negative way. Natania Duhur 11A Stanley English Homework ...read more.

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