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Ibadan Journal of Humanistic Studies

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A Deconstructive Reading of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart<>/i>

Olumide Ogunrotimi

Abstract


This paper attempts a deconstructive reading of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. As the most popular work of fiction on the African continent, most critics have ascribed two major readings to the text, and these apparently chime with the author's stated raison d'être for the novel; to show the white man that African societies were culturally autonomous before the advent of colonialism and European cultural imposition, and also to show the materialistic and patriarchal leanings of the Igbo culture. Using the theory of deconstruction, a poststructuralist contemplation that thrives on decentring the contexts of language use to exhume instances of textual inconsistencies and contradictions, this study proposes to deconstruct the primary text to foreground a new interpretation. Taking a close look at the pointers of paradoxes, aporia, and impasses which all undermine the 'stated' rationale for the existence of the text, and how these could easily lead to ambiguity, this study emphasises the differences between the often 'stated' major themes and what is actually decipherable from the noticeable illustrations of language and narratological discrepancies. The research discovers that the author's presentation of traditional culture is skewed in a way that makes the introduction of a new way of life necessary. The paper pointedly redirects attention to the indices which emphasise this reading and concludes that despite the author's stated reason for writing the novel, the society of Umuofia is already experiencing fractures in its foundation, and that things actually began to fall apart long before the coming of the white man and his colonial enterprise.

Keywords: Things Fall Apart deconstruction, multiple readings, textual paradox, and inconsistencies




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