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Part 1:

In "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness" Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe critiques Conrad's representation of Africa and European imperialism.  Discuss Achebe's own work in light of this essay.  What exactly does Achebe think is wrong with Heart of Darkness?  And how is Things Fall Apart a critique of Conrad's interpretation of British colonization of Africa?  Cite specific from Achebe's novel and essay to support your interpretation.  Once you have a clear understanding of the texts, move on to evaluation and application:  For example, you may wish to discuss whether or not Achebe is right that Conrad is a racist or how the concept of cultural memory might help us understand Achebe's view of Conrad.

Part 2:


In "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness" Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe critiques Conrad's representation of Africa and European imperialism.  Discuss Achebe's own work in light of this essay. 

In the end, regardless of critiques of imperialism in the Heart of Darkness (1899) the author Conrad is still racist. In "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness" (2016), Achebe points out that Conrad uses fluffy language to confuse his readers and dress up his bigoted ideas. I had not given much thought to Conrad's verbiage when I read the heart of darkness however after considering Achebe's position I realize the importance the superfluous words mean. While Conrad's novel focuses on the mystery of the Congo, Achebe's novel shows the tribesmen to be the same as any other civilization. In Heart of Darkness (1899), the people of the Congo are human, but they are less human than their white counterparts. Every part of Things Fall Apart (1958) contradicts the opinions of authors like Conrad.

What exactly does Achebe think is wrong with Heart of Darkness?  And how is Things Fall Apart a critique of Conrad's interpretation of British colonization of Africa?  Cite specific from Achebe's novel and essay to support your interpretation.  

The Heart of Darkness (1899) while seems to say that the people of the Congo are human, all the novel does is reaffirm that black inhabitants of the Congo are less than human. "That this simple truth is glossed over in criticisms of his work is due to the fact that white racism against Africa is such a normal way of thinking that its manifestations go completely unremarked" (Achebe, 2016, p.21). Conrad is praised for his forward thinking and admitting that he has a "kinship" with the native people, but that relationship only goes as far as mild fascination. Achebe thoroughly shows that the Umuofia people are a dignified society with their own traditions, and although the tribes of Umuofia are fictional, they represent the African culture. Another comparison between Things Fall Apart (1958) and The Heart of Darkness (1899) is the portrayal of missionaries. While Conrad depicts imperialism as a necessary evil to bring light into the dark Congo, Apache shows the missionaries as a slow moving infection that spread through each village of Umuofia. The missionaries are an infection that destroyed their way of life and pitted families against each other.

Once you have a clear understanding of the texts, move on to evaluation and application:  For example, you may wish to discuss whether or not Achebe is right that Conrad is a racist or how the concept of cultural memory might help us understand Achebe's view of Conrad.

Conrad is racist no matter the situation and climate of the time he lived. We cannot excuse racism based on ignorance. We clearly see that the people of Africa have no love for imperialism and the cultural memories left from British occupation could form the basis for Achebe's opinion of Conrad. However, regardless of the cultural memories of Africa in regards to imperialism, I would say Achebe is justified in his opinion.

References

Achebe, C. (2016). An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The Massachusetts Review, (1), 14.

Achebe, C. (1994). Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor Books.

 

Conrad, J. (1899). Heart of darkness. Retrieved from https://www.aub.edu.lb/fas/cvsp/Documents/reading_selections/204/Spring%202013/CS-204-ReadingSelections-Conrad-HeartDarknestDarkness.pdf

Part 3:

LIB316:  Week V Discussion

In discussing Achebe's own work in light of his essay, I believe that Chinua Achebe's writings are to educate readers about African culture, customs as well as many of the superstitions of African tribes.  He focusses his writings in two forms, first through sight and then through presentation.  I found his writings to come from a place that he most likely realized that the majority of his readers would have been obviously unaware of the lifestyle and culture of African tribesmen, without actually encountering it firsthand.

What exactly does Achebe think is wrong with Heart of Darkness?  I believe that Achebe's ultimate point is that he regards Joseph Conrad and his use of glossy metaphorical descripts, written by a white man in a culturally native country, such as Africa, who may or may not knowingly, at that time, of understood that his white racial attitude lacked humanity and disregarded the historic culture of the people of Africa secondarily to sickness and savagery while undertaking the effects and exertions of Colonialism.

And how is Things Fall Apart a critique of Conrad's interpretation of British colonization of Africa? Achebe's novel "Things Fall Apart" can be summarized as a culturally historical African tribesmen story that closes the last chapter in what deems to be an unexpected tangle of ironies. 

As Emmanuel Obiechina has remarked, "the integrative technique in which background and atmosphere are interlaced with the action of the narrative must be regarded as Achebe's greatest achievement" [Obiechina, 1975, 142].

Remembrance in culture history and memory can distinguish between either or both points of view.  For each culture represents past heritage and is or can be completely foreign to another group, independently of another.  However, when any type of colonization impedes upon a distinct group, understanding and humanitarian skill sets must be within the educational scope, for not all are racist regardless of color, breed or creed.

"The kind of liberalism espoused here by Marlow/Conrad touched all the best minds of the age in England, Europe and America. It took different forms in the minds of different people but almost always managed to sidestep the ultimate question of equality between white people and black people. That extraordinary missionary, Albert Schweitzer, who sacrificed brilliant careers in music and theology in Europe for a life of service to Africans in much the same area as Conrad writes about, epitomizes the ambivalence. In a comment which has often been quoted Schweitzer says: "The African is indeed my brother but my junior brother." And so he proceeded to build a hospital appropriate to the needs of junior brothers with standards of hygiene reminiscent of medical practice in the days before the germ theory of disease came into being." Achebe, C. (1977).

References:

Achebe, C. (1994). Things Fall Apart. New York, NY: Anchor Books, Inc., Van Tuyll, H.P., Bahm, K, & Enright, K. (2011).

Achebe, C. (1977). An image of Africa. Massachusetts Review 18(4), 782-794. Retrieved from the JSTOR database.

Achebe, Chinua. "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'" Massachusetts Review. 18. 1977. Rpt. in Heart of Darkness, An Authoritative Text, background and Sources Criticism. 1961. 3rd ed. Ed. Robert Kimbrough, London: W. W Norton and Co., 1988, pp.251-261

African Studies Quarterly | Volume 4, Issue 3 | Fall 2000 http://www.africa.ufl.edu/asq/v4/v4i3a1.pdf

Meyer, M. (1995). Historical strategies. In Thinking and Writing about Literature (pp. 104-105). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's.

Part 4:

The novel provided an image of an African society, reconstituted as a living entity and in its historic circumstance: an image of a coherent social structure forming the institutional fabric of a universe of meanings and values. Because this image of Africa was quite unprecedented in literature, it also carried considerable ideological weight in the specific context of the novel's writing and reception. For it cannot be doubted that the comprehensive scope of Achebe's depiction of a particularized African community engaged in its own social processes, carried out entirely on its own terms, with all the internal tensions this entailed, challenged the simplified representation that the West offered itself of Africa as a formless area of life, as "an area of darkness" devoid of human significance.


Achebe does not agree with Conrads writtings. Achebe shows the tribesman that Conrads portray as savages as being like any other tribe..not savages. he wrote how they were less than human in his novel. "The language of description of the people in Heart of Darkness is inappropriate," says Achebe. "I realized how terribly terribly wrong it was to portray my people — any people — from that attitude."


I would say Achebe is justified in the way he feels. We can not condone racism. Conrads novel is very racial in my opinion.

  does not agree with Conrads writtings.

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