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Message vs. Style in Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe Essay


“The message is more vital than the style”. I totally disagree with this declaration in the context of Things Fall Apart as I think that in this specific work, the message is of comparable value to the style; to have a specific writing style whose sole purpose is discovered in informing readers as to the purpose to the message, and then to NOT have a message, would be worthless, whereas having a message to tell readers, WITHOUT such a writing style as is necessary to allow them to soak up the purpose, would once again be ineffective- for that reason the message and writing designs are similarly important in this story, as one can not do without the other.

In this case, the central message of Things Break down, that African culture is complex, can only be absorbed by readers if Achebe’s composing style, which incorporates making use of discussion, dispute, sayings, diction and setting, permits them to establish such recognition of cultural complexity- the author can not simply instruct the reader to believe that the culture is undoubtedly complicated, and still expect the reader to think as such without question.

First of all, Achebe makes sufficient usage of dialogue as a component of his writing design to carry forth the message of a culturally intricate society. For example, Okonkwo’s discussion with Obierika as to the Oracle’s desires in Chapter 8 presents substantial cultural aspects to the readers. Okonkwo argues that his participation in the murder of Ikemefuna was warranted, but Obierika competes otherwise, declaring that Okonkwo’s actions are of the kind for which the earth goddess, Ani, “wipes out entire households”. In the conflict between their different views we see the strong impact applied by their religious beliefs on each person, and also obtain recognition of substantial spiritual aspects, namely the Oracle and the earth goddess. That Okonkwo and Obierika ought to have differing opinions about the Oracle’s religious objectives shows the existence of complex understandings of the exact same religion.

This complexity in religious understandings then implicitly recommends to readers an inherent intricacy in the religion itself, for without such complexity varying religious understandings would not happen. Faith is a core element of culture, as plainly the culture of a society must not oppose the spiritual views held by that very same society, and having a complex religious beliefs as a part of culture in turn recommends that the culture of the society need to be intricate also. Dialogue hence serves to bring forth Achebe’s message that African culture is complex. At the exact same time, in the ideas of complicated culture discovered in dialogue, we see how Achebe’s design of composing motivates readers to slowly reach an understanding of his central message on their own, which is necessary because the readers should themselves view such cultural intricacy through development of their own ideas on the problem- precisely as Achebe meant.

To have a discussion with no intrinsic message would likewise make such discussion purposeless, as Achebe might not perhaps describe an overarching purpose to that conversation. This shows how discussion as an element of the composing style provides such a composing style an importance equal to that of the message; without dialogue being employed as such, readers can not get knowledge of the message, whereas if there was no message, then dialogue would have no function. Dialogue as a part of the composing design hence produces a situation where the style is of equivalent significance to the message.

Secondly, traditional African proverbs, a significant component of Achebe’s writing design, are utilized to highlight cultural intricacy. An example would be Okonkwo’s stating that “a kid’s fingers are not scalded by a piece of hot yam which its mother puts into its palm” in defence of his participating in the murder of Ikemefuna. He argues that he did as such due to the Oracle stating that Ikemefuna would need to be eliminated. That proverbs can be delicately utilized in dialogue to highlight different points, such as the above proverb serving as a defence for one’s actions, is a sign of a highly-developed language. A society’s culture is based upon its language, for language functions as the main medium of interaction in between humans in a society, and as such readers recognize that language is an essential element of culture, for that reason having a highly-developed language would hence suggest that society is culturally intricate.

Sayings being thus used in Achebe’s composing design have therefore led to the subtle formation of such a recommendation to readers, which in turn allows readers to follow through on that idea, and therefore reach the conclusion that African culture is complex is nature- this being the exact message which Achebe is trying to bring across to readers. Sayings belonging of Achebe’s composing design, we can see how they add to the bring the message of cultural complexity throughout. Nevertheless, such a writing style likewise finds its primary function in bring a message; for that reason without such a message of cultural intricacy, the sayings would lose their meaning. In this sense, we can securely specify that the writing style, through its incorporating using proverbs, is of equivalent importance to the message.

Finally, Achebe’s choice of diction likewise plays a large function in his writing design. Throughout the story, the storyteller refers to the housing for Okonkwo’s wives as Obi, court messengers as Kotma, and characters utilize conventional invites such as Nno. That such traditional African words should appear throughout the story, interspersed with all the English words, gives readers the impression that such words can not be merely equated into English. This then recommends to us that language in the society must be extremely developed, for such words do not have a counterpart in the English language, regardless of the large vocabulary of the latter. Certainly, I needed to describe the glossary in the book for the English translations of such words.

When readers make such reasonings, they can not assist but pertain to the conclusion that the Africans can not be culturally primitive- to have such a highly-developed language must in turn suggest an extremely industrialized culture, which is exactly the message Achebe is attempting to bring across. Hence Achebe’s option of diction significantly aids his composing style in carrying the message throughout to readers, who understand from such implicit ideas the main message of this work. Certainly, if Achebe did not want to have a message of cultural complexity, it is plausible that such conventional African words would not appear. Thus we can see how the success in bring the message across is extremely dependent on the composing style, and the shaping of the composing style itself is extremely depending on the kind of message being brought across; the message and the style are similarly crucial.

Last but not least, Achebe’s description of the different settings in which events take place play a part in forming his specific writing style. The setting of Ezeudu’s funeral service in Chapter Thirteen is an example of how the setting as a part of Achebe’s writing style serves to bring forth the message of cultural intricacy. Ezeudu’s funeral was a “warrior’s funeral”, and from time to time an “ancestral spirit”, or “egwugwu”, would appear “from the underworld”. From the description of this setting, readers have the ability to quicker value the intricacies of conventional African culture; that their culture integrates a strong, pagan belief in the presence of supernatural beings, the “egwugwu”, and a similar belief in the presence of an underworld.

This positions focus on a major religious part in their culture. Ezeudu’s funeral service being considered as a “warrior’s funeral” also permits us to acquire insights into the value of a specific social class, the warrior class, in their society. The setting has thus added to readers having the ability to recognize two significant components in African culture, the previous being religious beliefs, the latter being a social element. That these 2 different components must become so elaborately intertwined in this one ceremony is proof of a complex culture.

The reader, in evaluating the description of the setting, therefore gets knowledge of the central message of cultural intricacy which Achebe is trying to bring across, without Achebe needing to clearly declare as such; this clearly shows how Achebe’s writing style of putting details from which readers have to make their own reasonings has actually resulted in our comprehending the message of the book. Without such a description of the setting, readers might not have actually been able to absorb this message. On the other hand, without a message, the description of the setting would be useless, as the function of such a composing design would be to enlighten readers regarding a particular message the author wants to convey. For that reason I believe that composing style and the message are of equal significance.

In conclusion, I believe that the composing design and the message are of equivalent significance, as the former serves as the car for the latter, whereas the latter exists to offer the former function. Neither can do without the other, and for that reason their connection lends them equal significance.

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