Throughout the novel Things fall Apart, we are able to see the struggle that language and a lack of understanding can create. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is set in tribal Africa with a focus on one tribe in particular. Throughout the novel there are many themes that surface including the major one of communication. The first example arises as we see the suppression of female words and ideas throughout the book. Women were not equals, they were told to speak only when spoken to and were punished if they spoke out of term. The next example comes from the introduction of the “white man” to the story. With the intent of colonizing and spreading the Christian and English way to the African tribe, the “white man” tries to enforce his culture, language and especially his way of life on the tribe. Little did he know that culture held great importance to the tribe, they resisted and pulled away from what they didn’t know. Instead of being intimidated or influenced by the visitor, you see many characters simply mock and make fun of the “white man” and his translator for their lack of understand and language skills. This in itself allowed for a huge barrier to be created. The simple lack of understanding towards a different culture hindered the idea of colonization by the British. The third and final point regarding language within the novel is the diction, the use of the words themselves by the writer Chinua Achebe. Throughout the book he throws words into the sentences that are untranslated from the tribal African language. He does so to show that there is no direct translation and that although English may be a “universal language” it cannot always capture the true mean of a word through translation. In leaving the word untranslated, Achebe is able to maintain its meaning as well as hold true to the culture of the tribes. [continues]
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