How does Achebe’s style of writing convey Ibo culture and tradition in chapter five of “Things Fall Apart”?
This chapter, like the one before it, builds on the increasingly violent nature of Okonkwo, and his repressed emotions that result in hurting those he loves. Beating up his wife for damaging a banana tree is an extreme reaction that does not go unnoticed by others in the village. For the most part the beating is condoned and everything returns to normal by the next day. Domestic violence appears to be a normal occurrence. Fortunately, it is known that Okonkwo, though a great wrestler, is a not a hunter, and hence his aim is terrible. The mention of guns is a first and foreshadows the arrival of Westerners who came after the gun was introduced to Ibo traders. A particular superstition to note in this scene, is when Okonkwo's first wife calls out to Ekwefi. She answers with a question "Is that me?" Ritual had it that no one replied straightaway to his or her name, since it could be an evil spirit calling. This is another reminder that the Ibo culture is a very superstitious and spiritual one.
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Achebe is a very gifted, descriptive writer who makes good use of metaphors and similes, for example, “It was like the pulsation of it’s heart”. These help to build imagery and establish a firm overall picture in the readers mind. He also uses direct speech and dialogue to show the relationships between the Ibo people. This is used with great effect in chapter five, to show the close and relaxed relationship between Ezinma and Ekwefi. This briefly also shows Okonkwo’s fondness of Ezinma as she appears not to be fearful of him and engages in idle conversation with Okonkwo. Achebe’s comments are very succinct, “Okonkwo was specially fond of Ezinma” and are often backed with an example or comparison such as “ She looked very much like her mother, who was once the village beauty”. This creates a firm idea with the reader and once again shows Achebe’s excellent use of imagery. The good use of the contrast between descriptive passages and narratives, helps to highlight certain ideas which may not otherwise have been understood, making the novel clearer to read and comprehend. Achebe’s use of exaggeration where Okonkwo shoots at his wife is extreme and brutal, as are many other of his actions. However this makes the novel clearer and is a technique often used by great novelists to create suspense, dramatic imagery, irony or simply to make the novel easier to understand. An example is where certain characters feelings may not be obvious, and through the tool of exaggeration are easily highlighted. Achebe often uses the occasional Ibo word. This is good for building the imagery of the reader,and also gives his work a more cultured and authentic feel.
Achebe’s style of writing follows an interesting trend of literature that has emerged in the past thirty years, thas is Post Colonialism. Although a trend, this style can also be considered a literary one. This kind of writing emerged after the de-colonization of various African, Asian and South American nations by the European colonial powers such as Portugal, Spain, France, Germany and Britain and hails from those nations that were colonized. The experiences that both the the natives and the colonizers undergo are narrated by Achebe. He mainly speaks of the trauma, humiliation and slave mentality induced in their psyche. The colonizers write of their own experience which, according to them, is no less traumatizing. In Things Fall Apart, Achebe writes of the actual moment of colonization with the arrival of missionaries and the administrative apparatus of Britain at the turn of the century. His other works describe issues connected with colonization. Achebe’s peculiarity is that he works in the genre of the English novel, although his concerns are mainly African. This style of writing is excellent at conveying any type of culture, as it could be said that it is basically written by a native in the language of the colonialists. Another celebrated Nigerian writer is Wole Soyinka, who uses theatre as a more traditional form to convey his views on the same issues.