A POST-STRUCTURALIST INTERROGATION OF SELECTED WORKS OF CHINUA ACHEBE

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A POST-STRUCTURALIST INTERROGATION OF SELECTED WORKS OF CHINUA ACHEBE

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ABSTRACT

There have always been two traditions (structuralism and post-structuralism) in philosophy. One asserts that there are truths that are universal and eternal. They stand outside history and the physical world. Contemporary studies in African Literature have been forced to recognize the challenge of an alternative interpretive model by way of post-structuralism, even of postmodernism. Literary studies in Africa are greatly steeped in the modernist forms today. This research is an exploration of the varied possibilities in terms of meanings, oppositions and contrastive perspectives that exist and are manifest in Achebe‘s works. In order to achieve this, this study carries out an in-depth analysis of the post-structural and linguistic meaning embedded in Chinua Achebe‘s ―African Trilogy‖: Things Fall Apart (1958), No Longer at Ease (1960), and Arrow of God (1964). This study employs post-structuralism as deployed by Graham Hough (1966) framework in order to achieve the following objectives; to investigate the notion or view held by the colonizer of the supposedly inherent defects in traditional African civilisation; re-construct the notion by examining the binary oppositions of the colonial encounter that led to clashes; assess the linguistic dimensions with which the different and oppositional meanings of situations are the reader‘s own and not necessarily the truth of history; and evaluate Achebe‘s works as not a sociological text that is necessarily responsible for bearing with history but a literary product that allows readers to construct layers of meaning out of the interplay of structures within the novel. The methodology adopted for this research is essentially qualitative (library and text-based). The study revealed that on the notion or view held by the colonizer of the supposedly inherent defects in traditional African civilisation is vague and based on the opinion of the Europeans or the structuralist writers of the history of Nigeria and Africa at large. In order to reconstruct notions of Westerner about Africa and Nigeria in particular, the examination of the binary oppositions of the colonial encounter that led to clashes indicated that, they were obviously a deviation from the culture of the land and imposed adoption of the European culture which brought clash of cultures in most cases and a delegation of the Nigerian Igbo culture. The study reveals that Achebe‘s works are not seen as a sociological text that bears with history but a literary product that allows readers to re-construct layers of meanings outside of the interplay of structures within the novels. This study contributes to the body of literature in the aspect that it presents the post-structural facts of the history of the Igbo people, Nigeria and Africa at large, unlike most critiques that had focused on the sociological and historical domination of the colonial events in the region. This study, on the other hand, indicated that literary works of first generation writers can be critiqued under the purview of post-structuralism or post-modernism in other to project factual (historical) events as represented in the texts. Suggesting that, there should be a conscious attempt to review hierarchies such as man/woman, British civilization/traditional, African civilization, colonialism/traditional African values etc., with a view to challenging the fixed views assumed by such hierarchies and the values associated with such rigid beliefs and or truths.

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