Joseph Conrad, Chinua Achebe, and the Question of Racism

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Victoria Saha

* Is it Racism if We Are Portraying Our Own Race? *
Throughout history racism has always been an issue. Joseph Conrad and Chinua Achebe are both literary philosophers. Although they have different opinions, both writers have written about a particular race. In 1899 Joseph Conrad had written the infamous Heart of Darkness and in response to what Achebe thought was racism towards Africans Chinua Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart in 1959 to prove Africans were civilized. There has been much controversy over Joseph Conrad being a racist, but it can be proved that Conrad is in fact not a racist because he was writing about what he saw on his journey to Congo. It was an entirely different time period where imperialism had taken over and Chinua Achebe is also contradicting himself by writing negative things about both people of his race and of Europeans. While traveling to Africa, Joseph Conrad seems to have witnessed crucial parts of the African culture. As a white man in unfamiliar atmosphere he was being realistic about what he saw and stating them through the eyes of the protagonist “Marlow” an imperialist in Africa. While living in the forest for quite some time with the native Africans Marlow had soon begun comparing the humanity between Europeans and the Africans. Marlow states, “This suspicion of their not being inhuman. It would come slowly to one. They howled and leaped and spun and made horrid faces, but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity-like yours- the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar”(HOD pg 89). Marlow slowly begins to see slight resemblance of kinship with the native Africans. The circumstances of his surroundings in the wilderness compel him to see humanity in Africans, which he thought was impossible. Even to the extent that Africans and Europeans originated from the same place. Cedric Watts, a...
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