Quest for Identity in Things Fall Apart

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Guthrie 1

Language and Identity in Postcolonial African Literature: A Case Study of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

A Thesis Submitted to The Faculty of the School of Communication In Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Arts in English

By Abigail K. Guthrie 1 April 2011

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Liberty University School of Communication Master of Arts in English

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__________________ Dr. Jaeshil Kim, Thesis Chair Date

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__________________ Dr. Yaw Adu-Gyamfi, First Reader Date

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__________________ Dr. Paul Muller, Second Reader Date

Guthrie 3 Acknowledgements This thesis would not have been possible without the dedication, love, and support of Dr. Jaeshil Kim. Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Dr. Paul Muller and Dr. Yaw Adu-Gyamfi, thank you for the countless hours you have dedicated to improving my life. You have taught me to love literature and you have encouraged me to pursue daunting tasks. Thank you for not giving up on a simple girl like me. You will never know just how much your teaching has shaped my life. Thank you to the faculty members at Liberty University who were not on my committee but who have had a profound influence on my life. Dr. Prior, Dr. Harris, and Dr. Woodard, you have challenged me and pushed me to develop my beliefs, my intellectual curiosity, and my taste for good literature. I hope one day I will make you proud. To my family and friends, thank you all for your love and support. Thank you for allowing me to continue my education. The late nights, the long hours, the breakdowns, and the tears of joy are behind me now because you were there for me. I am blessed to have you in my life. I love you. Finally, thank you Chinua Achebe. Without you, this thesis would still be a whimsical idea floating in the back of my mind. You have brought my ideas to life, and your words have inspired me. God bless you.

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“Until the lions produce their own historians, the story of the hunt will glorify only the hunter.” Chinua Achebe, Home and Exile

Guthrie 5 Table of Contents Signatures………………………………………………………………………………………….2 Acknowledgements………………………………………………………………………………..3 Epigraphs………………………………………………………………………………………….4 Introduction: Understanding Chinua Achebe and the Cultural, Literary, and Linguistic Transcendence of Things Fall Apart……………............................................................................6 Chapter 1: Understanding Africa: Confronting the Postcolonial Melee with an Interdisciplinary Approach…………………………………………………………………………………………13 Chapter 2: Ethnographic Literature: Professing a Language Attitude through a Literary Text………………………………………………………………………………………………29 Chapter 3: In Defense of Igbo: Achebe’s Language Attitude as Displayed within the Linguistic Structure of Things Fall Apart…………………………………………………………………...56 Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………… 91 Appendices……………………………………………………………………………………… 94 Works Cited…………………………………………………………………………………….104

Guthrie 6 Introduction Understanding Chinua Achebe and the Cultural, Literary, and Linguistic Transcendence of Things Fall Apart Nigerian author Chinua Achebe once wrote that the time and place in which he was raised was “a strongly multiethnic, multilingual, multireligious, somewhat chaotic colonial situation” (Education 39). No better words could describe the Nigeria from the end of the 19th century to today’s 21st. Achebe was born on the 15th of November in the small town of Ogidi in Eastern Nigeria, one town amidst the thousand provinces that make up the land of the Igbospeaking tribes. The Igbo people pride themselves on autonomy; thus, the thousand towns that construct “Igboland” feel no need to meddle in the business of the other Igbos. Self-government, both pre and post colonization, remains both...
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