Of Interpreters, Schools And Courts: An Analysis Of The Postcolonial Themes Of Language, Education, And Power In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

3273 words - 14 pages

James Clifford T. Santos
Dr. Jocelyn Martin
LIT 127.2 (Postcolonial Literature II)
Ateneo De Manila University
10 February 2014
Of Interpreters, Schools, and Courts: An Analysis of the Postcolonial Themes of
Language, Education, and Power in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart
Through his awareness of the European literary tradition of negatively stereotyping the African natives as uncivilized peoples and putting the West in the pedestal in terms of cultural superiority and advancement (Guthrie 51-52), it can be asserted that the renowned African novelist and intellectual Chinua Achebe may had realized, at one point in his life, that in order to have a more realistic portrayal of ...view middle of the document...

Mindful of such reality, this paper seeks to provide, as much as possible, a comprehensive exploration of the novel’s postcolonial themes of Language, Education, and Power (to some extent) under the guidance of the ideas of influential authors and intellectuals such as Macaulay, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Constantino and Spivak. Towards its ending, the paper shall explain how the Ibo have become subalterns in the novel, with special regard to the dynamic changes that the native Nigerian societies presumably have experienced in the novel due to the English colonizers’ assertion and imposition of their religion and government. The paper shall end by presenting a brief synthesis of the prominence of the themes of language, education, and power in postcolonial discourse.
In the novel, there is no doubt that the English colonizers have not only brought their religion in Umuofia and the other native African villages or towns, but also their system of education. Missionaries such as Mr. Kiaga and Mr. Brown are revealed to have established and managed schools whose primary orientation is to teach the Christian converts, particularly the young ones, Western knowledge and how to read and write using the English language (Achebe 152; 179). It is understandable for the novel to portray such because it has been proven throughout history that in any place where a “system of religious communication” exists, a systematic “common instruction” of the local populace, particularly the youth, is required in order to promote the understanding of the religious creed and speech among the new converts (Schleiermacher 204). In fact, Christendom is noted for its strategy of transmitting religious ideas through parochial schools and other educational institutions (Yinger 65). Building from the aforementioned ideas, it is possible to assert that colonial educational systems, during the period of their growth, had been supported and fuelled primarily by the quest of the colonizers to spread their religion and indoctrinate the colonized. Nonetheless, it is very important to consider in this context that aside from its manifest effects of inculcating the faith to the natives, education has also latent effects on the overall thinking and attitudes of the colonized. In the novel for instance, it is revealed that because of their new religious instruction, the Ibo converts have become less hostile towards the osu or the outcasts and that some of them had grown antipathetic towards their traditional religious beliefs and customs such as respecting the egwugwu and not harming animals (i.e. sacred python) which are emanations of Igbo gods (Achebe 155; 178; 157). It is also shown in the text how the educated Ibo natives have deviated from the traditional occupation that they are expected to perform under their culture as many of them are said to have become court messengers, court clerks and teachers (Achebe 181-182). Furthermore, the novel also implies that the people have become...

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