Beyond Black and White: British Identity in Achebe’s Fiction

  • Thomas Jay Lynn
Chapter
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)

Abstract

A glance at Achebe’s early novels may lead one to surmise that he approaches the English missionaries and colonial administrators as ruthless and bigoted interlopers who deceive and coerce Africans into submission. However, later works clearly demonstrate that Achebe does not reflexively stereotype the British, or more broadly whites. Examination, too, of the early novels reveals that the English characters are not inevitably straw men, held to account for British exploitation and oppression in Africa. To be sure, several English characters are exposed for their arrogance and prejudice, but Achebe’s representations of these characters, as with African ones, are at various points also multidimensional and sympathetic. “Sugar Baby” and Anthills of the Savannah bring Achebe’s representations of British and white identity full circle insofar as Father Doherty and John Kent, respectively, actualize the altruistic impulse that had motivated some previous Europeans in West Africa.

Works Cited

  1. Achebe, Chinua. Anthills of the Savannah. New York: Anchor-Doubleday, 1987.Google Scholar
  2. Achebe, Chinua. Arrow of God. 1964. New York: Anchor-Doubleday, 1974.Google Scholar
  3. Achebe, Chinua. “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.” 1975. Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays. Achebe. New York: Doubleday, 1989. 1–20.Google Scholar
  4. Achebe, Chinua. No Longer at Ease. 1960. New York: Anchor-Doubleday, 1994.Google Scholar
  5. Achebe, Chinua. “Sugar Baby.” Girls at War and Other Stories. Achebe. 1972. New York: Anchor-Doubleday, 1991. 89–100.Google Scholar
  6. Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. 1958. New York: Doubleday, 1994.Google Scholar
  7. Barthold, Bonnie J. Black Time: Fiction of Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States. New Haven: Yale UP, 1981.Google Scholar
  8. Chilala, Cheela HK. Observation made at the Conference of The Association for Commonwealth Literature and Langugage Studies. Stellenbosch, South Africa. 12 July 2016.Google Scholar
  9. Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. 1899. Ed. Robert Kimbrough. 3rd Norton Critical Ed. New York: Norton, 1988.Google Scholar
  10. Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. Trans. Constance Farrington. New York: Grove, 1963.Google Scholar
  11. Kidder, Tracy. Strength in What Remains. 2009. New York: Random House, 2010.Google Scholar
  12. Kipling, Rudyard. “The White Man’s Burden.” McClure’s 12. February 1899.Google Scholar
  13. Orwell, George. “Shooting an Elephant,” Ca. 1931–36. Orwell. A Collection of Essays. New York: Doubleday, 1954. 154–62.Google Scholar
  14. Reynolds, Rachel. “Winterbottom, Captain Thomas K.” The Chinua Achebe Encyclopedia. Ed. M. Keith Booker. Westport, CT. Greenwood, 2003. 282–83.Google Scholar
  15. Wren, Robert M. “Things Fall Apart In Its Time and Place.” Approaches to Teaching Achebe’s. Things Fall Apart. Ed. Bernth Lindfors. New York: MLA, 1991. 38–44.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Jay Lynn
    • 1
  1. 1.Penn State BerksReadingUSA

Personalised recommendations