Why does Things Fall Apart end with the perspective of the District Commissioner? How does this conclusion affect the novel as a whole?
The novel ends with the perspective of the District Commissioner in order to convey to the reader the racist and inhuman nature of colonialism. This conclusion affects the novel as a whole because it trivializes the struggles of Okonkwo, his village and the entire cultural heritage of Africa.
The concluding paragraphs in Achebe’s novel, ‘Things Fall Apart’, display the racism and bigotry of the western colonialists. This is made clear through several instances in the final chapter of the novel. “The story of this man who had killed a messenger and hanged himself would make interesting reading. One could almost write a whole chapter on him. Perhaps not a whole chapter but a reasonable paragraph, at any rate.” (Achebe 208-209). The commissioner intends to write a book documenting the Ibo culture. He is unaware, and likely uninterested in knowing the full story of Okonkwo’s life. “one must be firm in cutting out the details.” (Achebe 209) Okonkwo had just realized that his tribe was doomed because of their weakness. He decided to take his own life as a result of a lifelong struggle to help his clan by being a strong and hardworking man, in an attempt to distance himself from his weak and unsuccessful father’s reputation. The point I am making here is that Okonkwo’s tragic life story is a rather complex and heartfelt one. Achebe spends 24 chapters developing Okonkwo’s character only to have some white colonialist sum up his troubled life in a “reasonable paragraph”. This shows the Commissioner’s racist attitude toward African people. In his mind, African people are savages and less human than whites. He does not respect them as he would his own people. Therefore, their lives are trivialized and condensed into short summaries in his book.
‘The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger’ (Achebe – 209) is to be...