Challenging Worldviews

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  • Title: Challenging Worldviews: Alternative Realities in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart
  • Author(s): Ronit Mazovskiy
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: New Directions in the Humanities
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies
  • Keywords: Literature, British, Colonialism, Post-colonialism
  • Volume: 15
  • Issue: 4
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 2327-0055 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-2376 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Mazovskiy, Ronit. 2018. "Challenging Worldviews: Alternative Realities in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart." The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies 15 (4): 1-11. doi:10.18848/2327-0055/CGP/v15i04/1-11.
  • Extent: 11 pages


In his much-beloved novel “Things Fall Apart,” Chinua Achebe strives to create a world that is wholly different from ours yet familiar in its portrayal of our shared experience as part of the human race. Achebe’s story is of a tribal community’s march to modernity as it is transformed almost overnight into a colonial vassal, subjected to European customs and institutions and alienated from its traditional ways. This transition—the liminal phase between tribal life and Western subjugation—is at the heart of the novel, and Achebe makes clear what is lost during this upheaval. Achebe challenges many of the European perspectives brought in by the British, in particular, the Western notions of subjectivity and the confluence of language and logic. This paper will explore how by representing Ibo perspectives on these ideas in his novel, Achebe challenges Western cultural hegemony and highlights a radically different approach to subjective experience and ontological space. This challenge to Western cultural structures operates on the formal level in the novel as well. This paper will also highlight ways in which Achebe subverts our expectations of the generic novel by including the use of the ethnographic voice and incorporating African aesthetic modes. Finally, this paper will argue that the incompatibility of these two modes and perspectives is absolute and the destruction of the Ibo worldview at the hands of the West is inevitable and total.