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Achebe vs. Conrad (Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" vs. Achebe's anti-Conrad editorial)

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  • May 26, 2004
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In today's society, after one reads Joseph Conrad's story Heart of Darkness, he/she may gather that the author is racist. This thought will not only stay with the reader but also multiply after he reads Achebe's article: "An image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness". Upon analyzing each work deeper, the reader makes himself certain that there could not be any other ways of interpreting either one. That is not to say that Achebe does not sympathize or takes Conrad's point of view in parts of his essay, but he still stifles the anger within himself and continues to give the reader a clean-cut argument that is very difficult to rebut against.

The basic argument behind Achebe's work is that Conrad uses terms, words and forms his sentences in a way that is now to be considered racist by society. Since this has been said many times before Achebe tries to step in with some new ideas and tries to make his argument as strong as possible. For the reason that Achebe is black, there are two very distinct arguments against the author: the first is that since Achebe is black himself, he is taking a few words and phrases too seriously and that he is personally affected and offended by this article. The other argument is that, because he is black and he understands racism better; therefore, we should pay special attention to what he has to say. I believe in the second.

Achebe states all his thoughts in a very organized and timely order. Most of his arguments and quotes are chronologically truthful to the text. He presents his argument not over-articulating it and clearly, making it easier for the reader to understand. I believe that this article is written not to impress readers or to show Achebe's knowledge of the subject, but only to state another opinion and truly show a man's disgust to the topic of racism.

Achebe begins his article with an ironic example of teenagers who are "interested" in the topic of African history and traditions, or according to...