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Chapter eleven of "Things fall apart" by Achebe

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Introduction

STYLISTIC FEATURES: Chapter 11 is one of the most significant chapters because it encapsulates an abundant variety of stylistic features which are crucial to the progression of the plot. STORY OF THE TORTOISE AND THE BIRDS: The initial portion of the chapter introduces us to the art of story-telling which is a dominant aspect of African culture. Ekwefi recounts Ezinma a story abut a wily, cunning and a greedy tortoise, which persuades the birds to lend him feathers to make wings so that he can attend the feast in the sky with them. We notice that Achebe enumerates phrases in the fable that make the tortoise symbolic of the white man, that is, the British. It can be substantiated with words and phrases like: "he began to plan how he would go in the sky", "Nothing that happened in the world of animals ever escaped his notice; he was full of cunning.", "great orator", "sweet tongue", "ungrateful", "His speech was so eloquent that all birds...nodded their heads in approval of all he said." "many coloured plumage" All these examples illustrate the way the white man used to cleverly manipulate his subjects. The tortoise represents the vigilant, scheming nature of the Englishmen inorder to highlight the notion as to how they could exploit the Africans with their deceitful nature. Moreover, the instance that "he looked somewhat different from others" further demonstrates the idea of otherness or alienation as the tortoise is not a member of the flock. ...read more.

Middle

They are used in the fable as well, symbolizing hospitality of the hosts towards their guests. CONTRASTING IMAGE: "Although the night was cool, Ekweifi was beginning to feel hot from her running." It is an pattern of intense imagery. SIMILES: "The nights were as black as charcoal" adds to the characteristic fear of the Ibo people towards the night. "Ekweifi jerked her head sharply like an animal that had sniffed death in the air " and "she stood gazing in the direction of the voices like a hen whose only chick had been carried away by a kite". Achebe has meticulously captured maternal concerns of Ekweifi for Ezinma in these two similes. Agbala's "voice was as clear as metal." Another simile associated with her voice is: "her voice cracking like the angry bark of thunder in the dry season". These show her authority over the people and her position in the society which needs to be respected. ONOMOTOPOEIA: "The first cock has crowed", "shrill cry of insects", "angry bark of thunder". UNIVERSAL TRUTH: "A baby on its mother's back does not know that the way is long." It instills the idea that as long as a child is under the exclusive protection of her mother, he/she is ignorant of the harsh realities of life as he is not confronted with them. SYMBOLS: Night: an eminent symbol which shows that it is a suitable time for the family to share interesting folktales. ...read more.

Conclusion

When he answered her knock at the door, they exchanged no words. He led her to his bed and began to undo her clothing. SETTING: The chapter starts off in a domestic setting, that is, Okonkowo's compounds and a wide area including the forests till Umuaehi, the farthest village in the clan is covered. Moreover, night is followed by the dawn which is symbolic of positivity. PROPHECY: The story of the Tortoise and birds is prophetic of the fact that the colonial rule is about to descend upon Umofia and things will eventually fall apart like the shell of the Tortoise. LANGUAGE: For Achebe, language is an essential component of his artistic strategy. So, we observe that through the use of the fable, he shows that Africa has its roots in story-telling and wise morals even before the arrival of the colonizers. Also, it is enriched with African words especially a chant uttered by Chielo: "Agbala do-o-o-o! Agbala ekeneo-o-o-o!" which gives a rhthmic effect to the situation. AMBIGUITY: A deliberate attempt on part of the author is witnessed in this chapter as he keeps the entire episode of Chielo taking away Ezinma as a mystery. Even till the end of the chapter, it has not been disclosed as to why Ezinma has been taken away to the god without the consent of her parents. TONE: The tone of the chapter alters with the transformation of the scenes. Initially, it is light-hearted but it gradually shifts with the arrival of Chielo and becomes dramatic and frightening. ...read more.

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