Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

Gender Matters: Why Achebe and Jung Chang Have Opposing Interpretations of Western Influence College

Gender Matters: Why Achebe and Jung Chang Have Opposing Interpretations of Western Influence

While neither Wild Swans nor Things Fall Apart was entirely positive or entirely negative toward the societal change brought about by imperialism and Western influence, imperialism was certainly more condemned in Things Fall Apart than in Wild Swans.[i] Okonkwo, the main character in Achebe’s novel based in an Igbo community in Africa, struggled to come to terms with the changes colonialism brought to his village. By detailing the lives of three generations of women in her family, Jung Chang, the author and narrator of Wild Swans, demonstrated the progress that Westernization introduced to patriarchal China. The two figures viewed imperialism differently because their pre-imperialism statuses were entirely dissimilar: Okonkwo’s life was happy and prosperous before Western intervention, whereas the narrator of Wild Swans and her ancestors were subjugated to harsh Japanese rule and an incredibly patriarchal society before the adaptation of Western ideology. For Okonkwo, imperialism exchanged his freedom for European domination, while Western influence freed Jung Chung from the yoke of Japanese and male oppression.

Okonkwo was very...

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