Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe follows the story of an Umuofia tribesman in Africa at the onset of European colonization. Amorally confessing the unfamiliar and sometimes shocking customs of the tribe, Things Fall Apart appears to undercut the central premises of a multicultural myth that encourages the idea that non-European cultures were peaceful, egalitarian, non-violent, non-racist and non-sexist prior to European introduction. However, a closer look reveals the myth hidden under persuasive writing and a guise of candor.
The cadence of the story and the clean writing style of Achebe elicits an unconscious trust between the narrator and the reader. The reader falls into step with the simple wording of the sentences which mimics the straightforward culture of the tribe they describe. The plain writing creates the appearance of literature without agenda. Similarly, the appearance of objective storytelling lends the narrator a silent credibility. As the reader receives the story as entertainment and not propaganda, the easy reading sets a comfortable pace.
Although it appears there is no hidden motive, the story is purposefully crafted. The content is framed to resonate with the reader by exposing the humanity of the native Africans. As the reader identifies with familiar emotions such as pride, loyalty,
friendship and family, an empathetic bond is created between the reader and the characters. The establishment of familiarity between the reader, narrator and characters is part of the cloak hiding the multicultural myth and is nurtured throughout the story.
Cleverly, Achebe does not attempt to hide the vicious customs of the clan behind euphemisms or complicated writing. Instead, he places taboo behavior in full view of the reader turning the weakest link of his argument into a stepping stone to control and manipulate the readers reaction. For instance, while examining the prospect of war for the tribe, the narrator states Okwonko has a collection of five human heads from prior tribal skirmishes. The reader is not encouraged to view this as abnormal or offensive. Instead, Achebe’s narrator presents the hobby as supporting evidence of Okwonkos bravery. The narrator further encourages this idea by adding that on great occasions Okwonko “...drank his palm-wine from his...