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2 December, 04:34

3. Kenyon literary scholar Simon Gikandi suggests that the narrator's and "Achebe's sympathies ... are not with the heroic character, Okonkwo, but with a witness or storyteller who refuses to endorse Okonkwo's commitment to the central doctrines of his culture or the European colonizer's arrogant use of power". Do you agree? Why or why not? Another way of thinking of this question is, to what degree do you think the narrator sympathizes with Okonkwo?

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  1. 2 December, 05:51
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    I agree with the Kenyan literary scholar Simon Gikandi in his suggestion "that the narrator of Things Fall Apart and Achebe's sympathies ... are not with the heroic character, Okonkwo ... "

    Nor, should their sympathies be with " ... the European colonizer's arrogant use of power."

    Why should a stranger to a foreign land use raw force to impose his will on a people and their culture? By foolishly doing so, there are bound to exist unending conflicts. To conquer, one needs to stoop low, creating understanding and peacefully reconciling differences. At least for some time, initially "when in Rome, do as the Romans."

    Explanation:

    The narrator, Obierika, does not sympathize with Okonkwo. For one, Okonkwo was forewarned against killing Ikemefuna, and the consequences of rascal and macho-actions were clearly spelt out. Like the housefly, he refused to listen to a prophet, no wonder, "he followed the dead to the grave". In the Bible, it is stated, "if you kill by the sword, you will die by the sword."

    Okonkwo, the main protagonist, dramatically failed to recognize the signs of the time. Changes happen with the passage of time. Sticking to tradition and culture without making allowance for dynamic growth of same is a recipe for disaster. Moreover, Okonkwo could have listened to the warnings not to lay his hands on Ikemefuna. He could have acknowledged that mercy prevails over justice at all times. The repercussions of killing someone who calls you "father" are devastating indeed.

    Given these circumstances and his propensity to act like a man driven by physical strength alone, unlike a man who thinks things, he eventually "murdered sleep." If one paraphrases Achebe, "when sleep is killed, things would definitely fall apart, leading the centre of culture to scatter, and nothing will be at ease again."
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