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Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" is believed to have been written to show how appalling the Africans were mistreated by the British settlers. As much as the political points are blunt, the book is more of a social commentary, which holds and seeks to perpetuate the idea that change and flexibility were urgent matters that the African society needed to adopt as a means of remaining relevant in the ever-changing world. Okonkwo's inability to change is what resulted in his downfall. It seems to suggest that the traditions of the people were compromised not because of the British interference but because the Umuofian society decided to abandon their traditions to join new religion. The tone used by Achebe is therefore that which seeks to reveal the souls of the traditional societies in question and not a bitter one. It holds that when the people's religion and traditions are eventually lost, things fall apart! Okonkwo therefore is a voice of value who simply realizes the consequences of people's actions to abandon their traditions and religion and reminds them that what they have given up contained value.
Voltaire described 'Candide' as a piece meant to "Bring amusement to a small number of men of wit". The classical adventurous and romantic plot is at best a fun parody, which is combined with the author's sharp wit. The painstaking detail that is used to describe the horrible events in Candide makes it humorous. This narrative treats even serious matters like death very simple. In his narrative, Voltaire takes a very short, light, humorous and rapid approach in narrating the events. There is also an underlying harsh criticism of the contemporary European civilization. The Portuguese are criticized for their inquisition, the British for their execution of John Byng and the French and Prussians for the war they were engaged in for seven years. Even organized religious institutions like Jesuits of the Roman Catholic Church were criticized for taking advantage of their poor followers in the pretence of helping them. Compared to Achebe's "Things Fall Apart", Voltaire's "Candide" has a harsh tone and criticizes in a manner that, the author is not a part of the solution anymore. The humor with which events in this narrative are brought out are however outstanding because it brings out an aspect of euphemism and hence satires the harsh criticisms.
Rousseau's "Confessions" though an autobiography, it was one of its own kind. Unlike in Things fall apart where the author describes different subjects, it was an instance where the author was also the subject seeking to lay bare the imperfections, individual neuroses, formative childhood experiences and his virtues which shaped his adulthood. This approach was merely adopted to explain and justify the views as well as the personality of the author in adult life. However, there was a lot of confusion in terms of the number of dates the author used in respect to different events; he has maintained that the most important aspect of his autobiography is the feelings that led him to write those events and not the dates. This act of comprehensive unburdening is not merely an act of humility and deprecation but an act of revealing that as human beings with weaknesses and strengths, we can be fundamentally very good and very honest with ourselves as well as with others. Compared with Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, the difference lies in the subject of the authors. The virtues and points of view of Achebe are only seen in the position he holds against the Umuofia community and not through self-disclosure as is done by Rousseau. Whereas Rousseau concentrates on himself as a reflection of humanity, Achebe pinpoints the weaknesses of the same humanity in a particular context and puts both the values and lack of the same openly.
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Chinua Achebe would be very much in agreement with the criticisms brought out in Voltaire's "Candide" but would take issues with its one sided nature because he believed that in every scenario, there is the contributor and the executor of the problem at hand. In the case of the Jesuits for instance, he would not agree with a blame being hurled on the religious institution without necessarily putting the faithful in the picture for blindly practicing what they were told to do. Achebe believes that problems, weaknesses and strengths are always different depending on the context in which they happen. For this, he would take issues with the generality that Rousseau seems to have adopted in highlighting his case.
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