Civil Peace

Taking Control of Fate in Chinua Achebe's Civil Peace

Chinua Achebe’s “Civil Peace” takes place in post-war Nigeria. The story’s protagonist, Jonathan Iwegbu, considers himself to be a very lucky man as most of his family is alive and he still has the few material possessions he had possessed before the war. He is able to make some money putting his bicycle to use as a taxi and then opens up a bar for soldiers and “other lucky people with good money.” Jonathan’s good fortune seems to continue until one night a band of thieves knocks on his door. As a result of living through the war, Jonathan realizes the steps he must take to survive. He discovers that he can not trust anyone, that there is no one to protect the innocent, and that he must take his fate into his own hands.

During times of war, in any country, a person must be very careful with who they place their trust in. Jonathan learns this lesson many times, but one experience in particular illustrates it very well. One day during the war, an officer came to Jonathan and told him his bicycle was being commandeered for military action. Iwegbu, being a patriot, would certainly have let his bike go even though its loss would be greatly felt. However, the officer’s “lack of grip and firmness in his manner” gives Jonathan doubts...

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