Civil Peace

Civil Peace Achebe on the Role of the Author

Throughout his lifetime, Chinua Achebe commented and wrote extensively on the role of an author. His perspective is useful to understanding both "Civil Peace" and his work overall.

Achebe viewed stories as a practical means to address cultural and societal problems. When asked if the Nigerian Civil War had impacted his writing, he replied in the affirmative, explaining that “the role of the writer depends to some extent on the state of health of his society. In other words, if a society is ill, he has a responsibility to point it out” (Rajat, 231). He expanded on this statement in an essay where he opined that “art is, and was always, in service of man” (“Africa and Her Writers” 617). He added that artists should “serve the needs of their times”, and rejected the notion of “art for art’s sake” as frivolous (“Africa and Her Writers” 617). Art for Achebe was innately political.

Achebe’s views can be used to illuminate aspects of his novels and short stories. Susan Sanderson, a literary critic, writes that "Civil Peace" “can be construed as a story that teaches its readers about survival and about the merits of a never-say-die attitude” (26). Indeed, Jonathan serves as an excellent model for readers, demonstrating resilience, positive thinking and a strong work ethic in the aftermath of the Civil War.