Things Fall Apart

Portraits of Nigeria in Two Novels

The novels Things Fall Apart and The Joys of Motherhood both present Nigeria as a competitive, consumption-crazed country. Each novel, therefore, also creates a parallel between Nigeria and capitalist, Western societies--yet each one shows that the differences are not in degree, but in the details. Furthermore, both Things Fall Apart and The Joys of Motherhood present alternative viewpoints on how colonialism impacted the country's traditional morals and values.

Early on in The Joys of Motherhood, Emecheta foreshadows that Nigerian society will change forever. He writes, "The Ibuza people...fought and won many civil battles against their hosts" (11). Similarly, Achebe again and again describes how the Ibo culture is caught between primitive and progressive worlds, but belongs to neither. Both novels call into question the motives not only of the colonizers, but also of the natives, who are not as dissimilar from their oppressors as they would, perhaps, like to believe. There is no romanticization of the cultures of Nigeria in either Things Fall Apart or The Joys of Motherhood; instead, both author express tremendous courage in presenting the truth of their heritage, without opting to simply show outsiders as...

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