CHINUA ACHEBE’S SHORT STORIES AS A PERISCOPE TO IGBO WORLDVIEW

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ABSTRACT


Human beings cannot function in chaos, and out of the chaos of life they create an ordered existence. The basic ideas of the world, physical and metaphysical, held by a people have vital influences on their perceptions and approaches to life. Their conceptions of the universe and nature of existence determine the basic belief which reflect in their cultural, religious and social values that sometimes mold and guide their behaviour and actions. Africans generally and the Igbo in particular are known for their well articulated and distinctive worldviews. Admittedly, western civilization has made considerable impact on some of their worldviews; while some have lost essence, some are over-looked or trampled upon and others forgotten outright. This work discusses Chinua Achebe’s Girls at War and Other Stories using them as searchlight into Igbo worldview. It offers an exploration of the dynamics of the socio- cultural and religious values that encompass the Igbo worldview revealing the individual, social, cultural, and religious factors that give it shape and meaning. It is therefore the exploration of the philosophy, social, cultural and religious values that make a people and the education of the masses that Achebe demonstrates in his stories, that this dissertation dwells on. By the diverse portrayals of Igbo worldview in his short stories, Chinua Achebe has served as a teacher of culture, events, trends, values and concepts that prevail among the people. Following the trends of this literary icon, Africans should be custodians of their culture so that the dignity of African Culture which has been trampled upon be restored.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page
Abstract
Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE: Introduction
1.1       Background of the Study
1.2       Statement of the Problem
1.3       Objectives of the Study
1.4       Significance of the Study
1.5       Scope of the Study
1.6       Limitation of the Study

CHAPTER TWO: Review of Relevant Literature
2.1       Worldview
2.2       Igbo Worldview
2.3       Criticism on Chinua Achebe

CHAPTER THREE: Research Methods
3.1       Theoretical Framework
3.2       Research Methodology

CHAPTER FOUR: Biography of the Author, Synopses and Analysis of the Selected Stories
4.1       Biography of the Author
4.2       Synopses of the Selected Stories
4.3       Chinua Achebe’s short stories as a Periscope to Igbo Worldview

CHAPTER FIVE: Summary and Conclusion
Works Cited


CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study 
The Short Story is one of the most spontaneous and one of the most entertaining of literary forms. For ages in each and every country of the world, short stories have been in existence in different forms like anecdotes, jokes and brief narratives. According to M H Abrams, the Short Story

is a brief work of fiction…and like the novel, it organizes the action, thought, and dialogue of its characters into the artful pattern of a plot… presented to us from one of many points of view; and it may be written in the mode of fantasy, realism, or naturalism (286).

Edgar Allan Poe, the originator and first known theorist of the Short Story as an established literary genre, defines the Short Story as

a narrative which can be read at one sitting from half an hour to two hours, and is limited to a certain unique single effect to which every detail is subordinate (286).

These definitions, however, account for reasons why Eileen refers to the Short Story as “the art of writing less but meaning more” (146).


As an art form, the Short Story properly developed during the 19th Century with such writers as Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne in the United States; Guy Maupassant and Pazan Balzac in France; Pushkin, Gogol and Anton Chekhov in Russia and Sir Walter Scott in England. In Africa, we have such short story writers like Chinua Achebe, Ama Ata Aidoo, Barbara Kimenye, Abioseh Nicol, Gabriel Okara, Sambene Ousmane, Richard Rive, Cyprain Ekwensi, Flora Nwapa, among others. Eileen writes that

The African writer was not just wholly content to leave the Short Story the way he found it. Rather, as with other forms of African writing, he has stretched it a bit by injecting a healthy dose of his own cultural and aesthetic values into a traditional western genre and created in the process a frequently new and radically different form (147).

From birth to death, man as a social animal does not live his life in isolation but as a member of a society or a group; and for one to live in a society means to be under constant social, cultural, and religious influences. This is so because the core characteristic of a society is that, it is, according to Krech , “an organized collectivity of interacting people” (309), whose activities are centered on a set of common goals, and who tend to share common beliefs, attitudes, norms, values, modes of action, etc. These things are introduced and believed to be part of a people’s worldview.

Africans are unique people. What makes one African is not just his colour but the “Africanness” in him which gives him aspiration, inspiration, culture, religious belief, reverence to the supernatural powers, ethos, morality, knowledge of metaphysics, well-being, creativity, acceptability and rejection of issues, etc., which makes him distinct from other people of the world. This in reality is as a result of African worldview. The Igbo people are known among other ethnic groups in Nigeria for their well articulated cultural, social and religious worldview which is rooted in their oral tradition. Culturally, the Igbo from their worldview are able to....

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