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Essay about Existentialism in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

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Existentialism in Things Fall Apart

 
       Chinua Achebe presents his audience with an interesting twist to a contemporary school of thought in his work Things Fall Apart.  This post-colonization narrative incorporates several traits that revolt against normative philosophic systems and tralititious theories and beliefs of the existence of man and his place in the universe.  Achebe's efforts are characterized by a small diverse group of writers that purge realizations of predestination, and instead define man's existence by identifying his independent choices throughout the life course.  Achebe's style, although peculiar in one sense, can be defined in relation to the school of philosophic thought known as existentialism.  This system of philosophy, rooted in the original speculation of Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), is unique in that it emphasizes the role of the individual in the grand realm of existnece.  Achebe illustrates all facets common to the existential viewpoint in this narrative, save one.  The original thought of German existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre and the French narrative The Stranger by Albert Camus are all relayed to their respective audience in a first person viewpoint.  Not to say that it is necessary for an existential work to be written in first person, only that the nature of existentialism is the existence of the self, or self awareness.  Achebe emphasizes the role of the individual uniquely through the eyes of an all knowing and all encompassing narrator, and does not de-emphasize the role of the individual in doing so, but does, however, raise questions as to his intent.  Perhaps Achebe's commentary on the political, social, and economic reform of Nigeria would not have had...


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...alism.  Achebe grants his audience sagacity in the role of the individual within the confines of this time of change.  By enabling the reader to understand Okonkwo's life quest and his involvement in his village, as well as his rebellious activity.  Achebe charaterizes his narrative in a sense that had only really been accomplished byy the French authors.  Although contemporary to the times of existentialism, Achebe offers a peculiar omniscient viewpoint to the narrative.  The narrative of Okonkwo may be summarized by a base existential thought revealed to the public by the author of The Stranger:

Life is the sum of all your choices.

--Albert Camus--

 

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Oxford, Eng.: Heinemann Educational Pub., 1996.

Camus, Albert. The Stranger, trans. Mathew Ward. New York: Random House, Inc., 1988.

 


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