Things Fall Apart
Please write a 2-3-page response paper. You must address paragraph II below. It isn’t necessary, however, to answer every question in paragraph I—this isn’t an arithmetic test. You should try to combine the questions in paragraph I imaginatively in your ruminations on paragraph II.
¶ I) How can we make a moral evaluation of Okonkwo’s conduct? Do we judge Okonkwo by using a form of cultural relativism, or is there a universal moral code that we can apply to determine if Okonkwo is right or wrong? If we don’t share the Ibo taboos or beliefs (especially were powerful, intervening spirits are concerned) can we still evaluate the clan’s ethics and moral conduct? Or do we suspend our own sense of law, rationality, and cultural order to make balanced judgments?
¶ II) Does Achebe expect us to make a choice between cultural relativism and our Western, modernized moral code?
Example: You might ask yourselves how Achebe’s diction reproduces or mimics in English-language vocabulary and sentence structure the Ibo-speaking oral culture of Umuofia. Does this diction make the tribe seem primitive? Does it diminish your appreciation of characters and social organization? Or does it enhance your understanding?
NOTE: Please keep in mind the general Response Paper Guidelines:
What is a response paper?
Maybe it is best to begin by recognizing what a response paper is not. It is not simply an evaluation, particularly not one resulting in such ineffective characterizations as “boring,” “confusing,” “pointless.” A response paper must be an analysis of the work in question, considering such characteristics as a theme, point of view, voice, or plot when applicable. Also important to consider are formal qualities, such as stanza form, rhyme, and meter in poetry syntax, diction, and paragraph structure in prose, and composition in artworks. These formal qualities should enhance your ability to evaluate the work to which you are responding.
Some questions you might ask yourself before beginning to respond:
Is there a particular situation being described in the work?
Is there an identifiable speaker?
Is there a dialogue?
Does the poem, play, or novel rely on symbols to get across a meaning? What are they?
What poetic or rhetorical techniques—e.g., repetition, anaphora, enjambment, irony, metaphor, prolepsis, allusion—contribute to the effect of the work? Refer to Appendices 3 and 4 in Poems, Poets, Poetry (Vendler) for lists of speech acts and rhetorical devices.
What are the different linguistic registers at work the poem or prose work? Why does the writer employ these different registers? For more information on Things Fall Apart check on this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Things_Fall_Apart
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