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Kweon 1 Christine Kweon AP Lit and Comp Period 1 Mrs.

Moore Open Ended Question Study Guide 6-8 6. Social/Political/Philosophical Agendas: a. Achebe wrote his first book Things Fall Apart with a social and political agenda in mind. More than anything, Achebe pushed for the truth. He found that certain novels, like Joseph Conrads The Heart of Darkness, are racist in their illustration of the African people. He wanted that the world be able to see Africans as they are, in the undistorted truth. So Achebe drew from his own life (such as his grandfathers position within the tribe of Igbo and his fathers conversion into Christianity) to accurately portray the cultures and the traditions of the Nigerian people. 7. Technical structural and stylistic strategies: a. Literary Device: Symbolism i. Example: Folktales symbolized (for Okonkwo) the effeminate qualities that he despised. b. Function: Symbolism utilizes either a tangible or intangible subject within the story or novel to connect the literal events to the intended agenda of the author that runs as an implied undercurrent.

Kweon 2 c. How it Operates: The object or subject that symbolizes the authors implied meaning within the work is recurrent throughout the novel. The characteristic values (of the person or object) is translatable to the symbol; folktales, often enjoyed by women, represent effeminate characteristics or personality. d. How it is used in the Meaning of the Work: For the example of symbolism given, amongst the others, Achebe uses the folktales to parallel both Okonkwos distaste for effeminate qualities as well as Nwoye own sensitive characteristics. Nwoyes special enjoyment of the folktales over war stories disgusts and worries Okonkwo that his only legitimate son may be already emasculated. Okonkwos averseness to men listening to folktales represents his overall inflexible personality. He defines a man as completely masculine and anyone (like his son Nwoye) or anything that does not fall into that category is shameful. His view on folktales sums up and parallels what he thinks of his son. 8. Opening and Closing Scenes: a. The opening of the novel begins with Okonkwo at his highest point. He reflects on his fathers despicable weaknesses and defines his emphasis on masculine qualities. From the outset Okonkwo is prideful and somewhat arrogant, extremely inflexible in the way that he is intolerant of anyone against his ideals. Although he is well respected within the community and stocked in considerable

Kweon 3 wealth, Okonkwo is hard handed on his wife and children from the outset. He holds steadfast to the values and traditions held in praise in the old tribal ways, in accordance to the things that will eventually fall apart in the face of change. b. At the conclusion, Achebe portrays his tragic hero at the lowest (and fatal) point of his life. Okonkwo has lost all he had his reputation, his title, his lands, and most importantly, his fight to keep the old traditions and culture. By this time, the conversion of his son to Christianity as well as the tribes unwillingness to fight alongside Okonkwo had convinced him that the olden ways and traditions of the tribes are already bound to disappear. Because he was inflexible and held fast to the traditions and beliefs in a changing culture, he was defeated and ultimately led to forfeiting his life.