Achebe the Orator: The Art of Persuasion in Chinua Achebe's Novels

Achebe the Orator: The Art of Persuasion in Chinua Achebe's Novels

Achebe the Orator: The Art of Persuasion in Chinua Achebe's Novels

Achebe the Orator: The Art of Persuasion in Chinua Achebe's Novels

Synopsis

Taken together, Chinua Achebe's five novels-- Things Fall Apart (1958), No Longer at Ease (1960), A Man of the People (1966), Arrow of God (1967), and Anthills of the Savannah (1988)--encompass the entire social, historical, and political experiences of Nigeria, from precolonial times to the close of the 20th century. Central to these experiences is the clash of Igbo culture with the ways of the West. The novels show a society that has been fragmented and a people who are striving to reconstruct a world that they lost during their encounter with colonialism. Achebe has stated that his main purpose for writing is to reveal the truth about his people and their culture. This book examines his use of rhetoric to accomplish that objective.

Achebe's writings are fraught with rhetorical devices, and he has harnessed the power of oratory to show how his society has responded to the African colonial encounter and its aftermath. He uses oratory and rhetoric to both educate and persuade his readers and to delineate his characters. Because of the central role of language in his novels, his writings illustrate the nature of discourse among the Igbo as well as the larger Nigerian community. This volume presents a broad overview of rhetoric throughout Achebe's works and demonstrates how he uses the novel genre for persuasive purposes.

Excerpt

In an age when literary criticism is dominated by postmodernist and postcolonial theorizing that often relegates social contextualization and in-depth analysis, one is stimulated by Chinwe Christiana Okechukwu's contextual engagement of Achebe's novels as well as her incisive scrutiny of aspects of Achebe's creative impulse and power of oration. She bends down to such basics as the dynamics of imagery in Achebes's texts. The mechanics of metonomy in constructing the name “Umuofia” and the use of hyperbole in representing the collision of two arrogant patriarchies in Things Fall Apart are explained with an insider's perception and a critic's logistics. Achebe's portrayal of the crushing of African patriarchy by the colonial one through local imagery is examined as an oratorical art that elevates the prose. No doubt, the author's perception as an Ogidi woman from the same traditional Igbo village as Achebe empowers her insider's knowledge of the “crevices” and nuances of symbols and images derived from Ogidi locality. This insight not only links her with other insiders of Igbo critiquing space such as Kalu Ogba, who used his comprehension of Igbo folklore to examine Achebe's novels in Gods, Oracles and Divinations, but gives her work a special place on the insiders' pedestal because of her positionality in Ogidi creative space and tradition which she shares with Achebe.

Okechukwu studied English in universities in Great Britain and Nigeria, has a Ph.D. in Rhetoric from Catholic University of America in Washington DC, taught English language and literature in various institutions in Nigeria, and is at present a Full Professor at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, where she teaches English, Literature, and Writing. From this educational background in language she examines Achebe's syntactic choices in the novels and comes up with interesting findings. Subject and object structures, contrasting sentences, pauses, semicolons, coordinating conjunctions, and coordinated clauses are analyzed for their contribution in denoting meaning. The author's language and . . .

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