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    Walt Shakes

    Walter Ude (@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter. He blogs at mymindsnaps.wordpress.com.

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Tobe Writes: DECONSTRUCTING CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE AND HER SENSE OF POETIC JUSTICE

It will be an understatement if I say that Chimamanda Adichie is one of the most celebrated young Nigerian lately. To say that she is a sound and deep story teller is stating the obvious. And to say that she is an overrated writer is a cheap improvised definition of lie. Chimamanda, to me, is a ring bearer for most young writers and a lucid Nigerian epitome of ‘Yes We Can’. Like an Amazon, she is bestriding our literary milieu in the charitable spirit of ‘My success is other people’s success.’ Like a heroine, she is making a case for so many strangled voices. But, like all Greek heroes and heroines, Adichie has her tragic, poetic flaws.

The Igbo people have a saying: Aru gba afo oburu omenala (if an abomination is allowed to repeat itself it becomes a tradition). Going by this philosophical thought, I dare say that there is a stylistic trend which has become evident in Adichie’s storytelling technique, precisely, her concept of resolution. This stylistic form of resolution surfaced in her debut novel, Purple Hibiscus, and like an Abiku, it reincarnated in her latest work, Americana. For the comprehension of those who must not have observed this or those who but may have waived it aside, this frailty in resolution is Adichie’s style of sacrificing morality on the altar of happy ending.To understand the import of this, one needs to go back to the etymology of tragedy. Tragedy was first recorded to be defined in ancient Greece. Aristotle in his treatise, Aristotle’s Poetics, defined tragedy and went further to lay down guidelines on the structure and form of tragedy. One of the several elements that Aristotle enumerated, which is crucial to this piece, is his rule that tragedy should be about a hero or heroine of noble birth and that tragedy should have the element of catharsis (purgation of the emotion of fear and pity). Aristotle was of this opinion, because he believed that if the ordinary citizens of Greece saw the tragic end of a hero of noble birth, it would evoke pity and fear in the heart of these citizens. Therefore, these citizens would leave the theatre a changed people, or better put, renewed citizens, after seeing the suffering of a great personality.

It is clear from the foregoing that Aristotle saw tragedy-drama as a vehicle for social rehabilitation and surgical transformation of the citizens’ behavioural attitude. One might ask, what is the correlation between drama and fictional novel (prose)? My answer is: A whole lot. Drama and novel are forms of writing. All forms of conscious writing falls under literature. And, the purpose of Literature is to educate and to entertain. This purpose of literature is like the two ends of a stick; you cannot dialectically or practically divorce one from the other.  This means that once you consciously or unconsciously pick one end of a stick, you have inadvertently picked the other end. Simplistically, what this also means is that once a writer sets out to write, the writer has unconsciously set out to educate and entertain.

Chinua Achebe posits in one of his essays: If the society is sick, the role of the writer becomes enormous. The writer in this context, I believe includes, inter alia, scriptwriters, playwrights, novelists, journalists, and poets.  Therefore, writers are the vanguards and moral fibre of the society; through their works, they mirror the ills of the society. They do not stop at that, they show the society what should and is supposed to be. I believe this is in tandem with the perspective of Ben Okri when he opinionated: The decline of a Nation begins with the decline of its writers, writers represent the unconscious vigour and fighting spirit of the land. Writers are the very sign of the psychic health of a people: they are the barometer of the vitality of the spirit of the nation.

In the light of the foregoing, there is one undercurrent insinuation that Aristotle, Achebe and Okri have unconsciously underscored: Writers are teachers and healers. If this is true, then I ask, what is Chimamanda trying to teach the society in Americana when she allowed Obinze to divorce his legally-married wife with no case of infidelity to marry Ifemelu, his first love? Is she directly or indirectly proposing that all unhappy couples should divorce their spouses to marry their exes? What is Chimamanda trying to teach when she allowed Jaja to go free after admitting responsibility to the homicide committed by his mother in her debut novel, Purple Hibiscus? (Please do not get me misconstrued; I am in no way suggesting to Adichie how to end her stories. Be that as it may, I believe a griot should end his story in a way that will cure societal malady.)

It behooves me to point out that in a society laced with volatile marriages, a proliferation of divorce and family crises, that our fiery writer cum teacher would dabble in a sensitive niche, plot a beautiful conflict out of it, and then create a grotesque resolution, a resolution that seems easy and nihilistic, a resolution that stifles the didactic voice of reason.

The German writer, Ludwig Van Goethe says that: To act is easy, to think is hard. Therefore I can wager a coin that somehow, somewhere, there is a husband/wife who will opt for divorce – without thinking his action through – after reading a certain award-winning book called Americanah. I believe that there is a youth romancing the idea of committing patricide or matricide hoping in the future he will be granted amnesty for such a justifiable homicide.

Now, this is the part I ask, does Chimamanda Adichie really understand the concept of error of judgment on the part of a protagonist? Does Chimamanda think that Achebe liked the idea of making his lovable character Okonkwo commit suicide? I believe these two questions will aid our writer of the moment in understanding the importance of poetic justice. No writer likes to make his lovable protagonist suffer but they are forced to do it so that people will learn from the dire consequences of the characters’ irrational actions. Story-telling from ancient to modern has been a vehicle for teaching morals. If any writer or griot fails in this duty, then I believe such person has unconsciously validated one unknown listener or reader of his sins.

To this end I say, no writer will ever know the impact, influence and reach of his writings. I believe if someone will tell Saint Paul that thousands of years after, religious men will still be consulting his epistles as foundation for religious doctrine and dogmas or that it will be a guideline for conflict resolution, he would not have believed it. If someone had told Confucius that scores of centuries later, his writing will aid in rebuilding a tottering oriental nation, I doubt if he would have believed it. Perhaps, if someone had told Karl Marx that his Communist Manifesto will be a foundation for one of the most vicious governments the world has ever witnessed, perhaps he would have stopped in his tracks. If someone had told Joseph Conrad that his Heart of Darkness will be a book that will ignite protest writings among Africans, I believed he might have soft-pedaled in his use of words and imagery. If someone had told Salmon Rushdie that his novel Satanic Verses will spark series of murderous protests, maybe he would have. . .

Therefore, it calls for tact, circumspect and discretion whenever a writer sits down to pen his stories, thoughts and fables. Writers are teachers, and teachers are builders or destroyers of society.

May GOD open our eyes of understanding.

Written by Tobe Osigwe, @ikolondigboadichie

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47 Comments

  1. alexie

     /  January 10, 2014

    Nycly said…….rili had mixed feelings wen Jaja was set free in d end

    Reply
  2. This Tobe guy writes! So true! We have to be custodians of values. I would really like to ramble on here but I’m sure that would be another essay in itself, thumbs up man, ur articles on Walters blog always makes a ton of sense. And thanks Walter for bringing Tobe here

    Reply
  3. Yemie

     /  January 10, 2014

    A heartrending piece and here’s hoping it speaks to as many as reads it, in order that they may do the needful. Our society’s a very fragile and volatile one, where people become so obssessed with celebrities, thereby making a role model out of them. Some people, consciously or unconsciously, turn them to demi gods, idolising them and then go on ahead to live by the principles they propagate.

    The celebrities on the other hand, may not be aware of the influence they wield on society or just decide to ignore it. In all, may God furnish each and every one of us with the wisdom to do the rightful. Thanks for sharing and God bless.

    Reply
  4. Fisayo

     /  January 10, 2014

    This Man, Tobe Writes
    He Looks like a Moralist to Me, and I do not think writers even consider morals in their works, what i do believe is that a writer should not conform to societal values and customs, just because he or she is a mirror of the society. I get his point of his message, but then, that is why they are who they are.
    P.S: I Believe, no matter who and what you read, the burden of what you believe and profess rests on you.
    Thanks

    Reply
  5. Dude

     /  January 10, 2014

    Silly.
    Does this argument change at all by the fact, from the novel Purple Hibiscus, that Jaja did not kill his father, that he was actually self-sacrificing, taking the blame to protect his mother who was actually the guilty one. It is there in the book: Kambili confronts the mother who admits that she was given the poison by the housegirl and that she had poisoning Eugene since he put Kambili in the hospital. If Tobe could miss this glaring plot point, how seriously should we take the rest of his suppositions?

    Reply
  6. okwy obu

     /  January 10, 2014

    Are literary writers merely teachers and nothing more? And must they even be teachers in the first place? I get uncomfortable with the aesthetics that seem to champion the message that a story has convey something moral or be considered not so good. Shouldn’t the parameter used be that of judging whether the resolution of the story rings true and flows naturally from the body of the story? I wonder. I believe that if one wants stories with a moral message, he or she should go read the Bible. Let each writer write as they please without overly bothering about such – in my opinion – extraneous details as morality. For me, the literary writer is primarily an entertainer. Whatever toga he or she wishes to don on apart from that is tangential. Beautiful write-up by the way.

    Reply
  7. Nancy

     /  January 10, 2014

    Open our eyes of understanding indeed!! Am yet to read Americanah though i have read others….

    Reply
  8. Immanuel James Ibe-Anyanwu

     /  January 10, 2014

    What I love so much about this piece is the reference to Aristotle’s ‘Poetics’, a work that caught my interest during a Critical Writing course in school. This writer captured the very spirit of that work, and I agree with him that part of the writer’s role in society is didactic, above all else. Writers, deemed the conscience of society, constitute stakeholders holding up the moral compass, alerting society to the demands for justice.

    But Tobe’s hardline traditionalism does not win my support.

    First, writing, like every other thing within society, is subject to evolution. The rules are not cast in stone, nor do the Aristotles of our world own the copyright to such tenets. Conventional resolution, as the writer would want it, has become too boringly predictable, such that one can easily pick up a home video, watch for a few minutes and imagine the rest of the story without watching to the end! Fictions must not be boxed into such unfortunate stereotypes.

    Second, while fiction can show the way in society – idealism, it should also not fly in the face of reason and truth – realism. Hence, stories should reflect happenstances in the outside world, unless they intend to portray surrealism or sheer fancy. Divorce happens. For many reasons. Literature should capture that, and in so doing, it may be highlighting a trend without censoring it. By not censoring it, the writer has shown a humble refrain from playing God. For, morality, especially in current times, has become too vexed, contentious. It has become too relative, such that a rigid moral teacher will be at variance with a welter of contrary worldviews. There are atheists; agnostics; legalists; humanists; and so on – and these are also members of society who do not subscribe to a monolithic morality of two extremes of right and wrong.

    Today’s writer should understand this diversity. Many readers hate the sermonising and moralising that can be found on the pages of some works. They want to be left alone to decide for themselves – to judge a character as they deem fit. Yet it doesn’t mean the writer should totally abdicate the role of moral teaching; s/he could highlight evil and go on to pass definite judgement, yet in order not to be too predictable, she could stop at the former. That is why it is beginning to seem like works are better off the angrier they leave the reader, finally!

    Meanwhile, works do not fall into such categorisations of tragedy-comedy-tragi-comedy anymore. Some are too complex for definite identification. Even some works like the movie “Game of Thrones”, there is no protagonist that survives to the end! Anyone can die in the course of the story. While this breaks the heart of many viewers, it generates the suspense needed to drive the story. It is not predictable. Here in the movie, a good man may die; a bad man may survive – just as it happens in the real world. – my two-penny.

    Reply
  9. manny

     /  January 10, 2014

    Tobe you are brilliant! Welldone!

    Reply
  10. manny

     /  January 10, 2014

    In support of TOBE, we say that the writer is primarily an entertainer? But entertainment at what expense? Do we deny that fictional stories can contribute immensely to the shaping of societal values?

    Reply
  11. Love this peace, but I don’t entirely agree with everything written. Yes, we writers are custodians of values, but sometimes that rule has to be set aside for “good fiction”. We can’t always be moralist. Remember, people read to escape reality.

    Reply
  12. Oh c’mon! I don’t even have words to protest the unfairness of this article! I totally disagree! :/ Fiction is just that, fiction. Anyone who decides to mirror their choices in life after a work of art that was produced for the sole pleasure of reading and writing, does so at his/her own risk. Its called free will, people. Art mirrors life, and her conclusions, however lacking in poetic justice, mirror a very possible turn of events.
    I’m not exactly an Adichie fan, but no, she does not deserve this. Ho ha.

    Reply
  13. Chinweike

     /  January 10, 2014

    You make valid points with your argument, however I can’t help but feel it’s a bit biased. Seeing as you seem to glorify the notion of suicide (Achebe) but not that of divorce (Adichie).

    The idea that writers have to adjust their work to conform to a particular moral principle is akin to selling out, it’s no longer an expression of themselves but rather a modification of their talent for gain, as the major if not only reason a writer would modify their work in order to conform to society is usually for sales, which is kind of exploiting the readers. You’re a writer, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

    In Adichie’s defense, in the book Purple hibiscus, she clearly debases the notion of murder, despite it coming in the form of poetic justice. She also has an innocent, that happens to be the son of the guilty one, take the fall for it. Fewer greater punishments exist than watching your own son, suffer for years(?) for a crime you committed, call it poetic justice if you may.

    In the case of Americanah, well…if we’re being honest, divorce was, if not the best means of resolution for that case, certainly better than remaining in an unhappy marriage, while he cheats on his wife with his “true love”. I think I’ll prefer a distant father married to another woman, than one that’s physically present but emotionally absent, and also is a cheater. We Nigerians aren’t quite adept with the concept of divorce, and usually stay in unfavorable marriages, putting up with a lot of -pardon my language- shit, all for the sake of preservation of marriage, that for me is impractical.

    It would seem I set out on a personal attack on what you’re trying to say here, that is not in the least bit my intention at all. Like I said, you make valid points, writers are to some extent teachers, and have notable impact on their audience, but sometimes, it’s just more about telling a good and entertaining story than giving moral lessons, besides people are going to do what they want to do either ways. The fact that I’ve not murdered anyone despite seeing numerous movies that have the protagonist kill the antagonist would give credence to this (script-writers being the guilty party here)

    I just feel perhaps the instances you used were not very well suited for your argument. Yes writers to an extent have to suit their works with their society, but not as so much as to make it void of practicality and originality. I’m always excited to see your posts at this blog, very opinionated fellow you are! Refreshing perspective you’ve got. More grease.

    Reply
  14. sam-ogims

     /  January 10, 2014

    Tobe has just made a point, there’s high level of moral decadence in our society so writing shouldn’t just only teach but also serve as an arm of societal reform than moral deterioration.

    Reply
  15. manny

     /  January 10, 2014

    I agree that the instances he cited to push his stance weren’t the best. But I still think that society has to sacrifice at least some of the pleasure that story-telling for the sake of story-telling provides FOR lessons that can be creatively embedded in fiction, with a view to promoting desirable values. I recently was told about a child who stole from his mother confessing that he was merely re-enacting what he was in an ‘aki and pawpaw’ movie. The fact that fictional stories inadvertently TEACH values is inescaple.

    Reply
    • Yemie

       /  January 10, 2014

      Manny, I can just imagine buying a book for my 4 Year old daughter, which has got great plots and you know just for the sake of ‘suspense’ or telling a great fictional story, tells of how say the tortoise for example, was made king of a kingdom as a result of his deceptive ways, the end. And my daughter who happens to be a precocious one brings on a million and one questions, asking if its alright to play dirty and I go, ‘no sweetie, the author’s just keeping us entertained. I wonder how twisted that will sound and I know folks will say, common, this does not apply in this case but I say it does. Moral lessons are very adequate whether we like to hear it or not and none of us will patronize an author of the aforementioned story book for their kids.

      Reply
  16. Abikoye Oluwatosin

     /  January 10, 2014

    @Immanuel James: that is one epistle that i admire, while understanding @Yemie point of view. In today’s world the ultimate is what a person thinks and classify as the sanctity of his or her opinion that we all most respect as it is personal to that person for even the devil knows not what we think.

    For what shall it profit a great writer to write and not be criticized? Every work is subject to critique no matter how insignificant or legitimate and also admiration,it is to be either concurred with or dissented from. No work can clear cut run through the mind and get the approval or praises of 6 billion people and still counting.One thing i know is opinions are very influential and are determined by place, time, ideology and the societal make up/environment of where the writer finds him or herself and whatever is written, will either conform with that time, place or ideology or not and a good read can make a person and a bad book can incite anger and public display.

    Writers i respect, but if we say we should censor what people write, then we can as well tell people what they should say, this human right activisst will not take lightly and trust the shouts of the media will be heard from the mountain top.

    #thanks Walter, controversies make me happy, help me think and i remind myself that the thought processes of 6 billion people is one of the wonders of the world. :).

    Everyone is correct and a good work must be criticized…..don’t know how to end this comment, but i will say everybody keep writing and i’ll enjoy reading every time coz that’s what i do best….read.

    Reply
  17. I think I’d speak from the perspective of a script writer and tell you that she is justified. Since the advent of seasonal movies on TVs, the eyes and mind of the readers and watchers have been opened and their expectations are through the roof. If you don’t blow their mind or choose a route they didn’t see coming, then you’re simply not good enough. I once wrote a drama script and when I presented it I was told that ‘If I see d title of the drama Which was ‘While Men Slept ‘ ,my imagination would run wild the possibilities. But If I choose to attend and this is what I see on stage, I’d be disappointed “. I had picked the title out of the Scriptures n fashioned the story in line but it was predictable n boring. I had to use the concept of the movie Inception by creating a flashback within a flashback and crossing some moral lines to Make the story pop. and it popped!

    No matter How hard you try as a writer, you can’t comprehensively attack every ill. If you try to, your story would derail. So you pick your fight n stick to it. although I haven’t read the book (covers face *Walter don’t shoot me please ) I’m sure she took on a societal ill n did it justice. If all criminals were in jail, can you imagine what a boring world we would be in?

    So Mr Tobe, nice writeup but free Chimamanda abeg. A girl’s gotta hit to eat. If you ask me, she did both. shikena!

    Reply
  18. edgothboy

     /  January 10, 2014

    LMFAOOOOOOO! Biko what is this? So you mean to tell me suicide is better than divorce. that Obinze wanting to cheat on his wife should have just committee suicide instead like Okonkwo. okay, I’m getting you.

    Reply
  19. I must indulge myself to laud the commendable efforts of the writer in this article. I like your way of reasoning sir, and your closing paragraph holds a truth so unparalleled, that writers need have at the back of their minds. Many readers draw inspiration from the books they read, and writers should have in mind that their books go a long way in shaping societal values. The writer here is not neccesarily telling Adichie how to end a novel, but just pointing out the fact that societal justice needs be achieved. The subject matter here is that you cannot break the law and go scot free… in a moral sense.
    The commentor who is wondering if writers consider morals in their works, if this were not so, you wouldnt have enjoyed the the Achebe classicals.
    And Dude who tagged this post “Silly” seems to be parochial. This post truly does not change the content of the Adichie’s novel, but it will help in understanding the philosophical ingredients of the novel, and other novels.
    Whew!! this is the longest I have ever commented on any blog.

    Reply
  20. Now, here is one writer that understands the gravity of words…
    To be a writer is much more than accolades and awards, it is about making an impact in people’s lives.
    Thanks for this..

    Reply
  21. Nice write up though I disagree that a writer should limit the extent of creativity. While I agree that it may be right to not offend rational sensibilities, it still is an imposition on literal creativity.

    Let’s no forget that Chimamanda’s works are works of fiction. Hence, it is erroneous to compare them with Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto which is what it is, an economic/political manifesto or experiment which happened to fail. Yet it showed Capitalism as a better alternative, yes?

    Whether we like it or not, though the story of Conrad in Heart of Darkness inaccurately depicted Africa as the antithesis of Europe, it sprung a certain kind of African pride and consciousness amongst Africans especially after Achebe’s review of the book.

    As for Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, I don’t regret that he wrote such an amazing book. Its just unfortunate that a good book became the subject of so much violence but then again, we have seen in recent times that you don’t have to write a book to become a target of religious violence. A few words without the intent does the trick. After all, didn’t Dan Brown write The Da Vinci Code?

    Your assertion that because Chimamanda or any other author wrote it, someone somewhere is planning to do it is absurd. Literature mirrors life and the society. We cannot deny divorce is rampant today and it has been so even before she wrote Americanah. Religious violence is the norm. Fanatics are always looking for an excuse to start a war. Capitalisms has its own pitfalls as we witnessed in the recent global meltdown. If Apostle Paul had tonned down in his epistles, we wouldnt have the guidelines we do today, would we?

    The roles of a the writer are many but the most important in my opinion is that of entertainment. How can a writer manage to get people to read without first seeking to entertain? We must not shackle a writer with the chains of being a teacher because subconsciousnesly, the world still learns one way or another. After all, students still fail after being taught, dont they?

    Reply
  22. Thanks for this timely article, it actually brought somethings into perspective especially when I was about penning my first book.

    Reply
  23. Timah

     /  January 10, 2014

    Please, please and please, just go to church and take the pulpit if you are to preach like this. First and foremost, it’s quite obvious that you just read up on Aristole and thought yourself a scholar of literature-you are not.

    Second, literature is a reflection of society, and her works are exactly that. Obinze is one of hundreds of men who are married to women they never loved. Women that just happened to be available when they were ready to settle down. Then later, these men take second wives- their new choices, or their exes. So please what are you yapping about?

    You’re obviously a moralist and your brand of morality, I’m sorry to say, reeks of hypocrisy. There is NOTHING wrong with Adichie’s sense of poetic justice. And I say this as someone who has been studying Literature for 8 years and still counting.

    Googling Aristole and the genres of Literature doesn’t make you and authority. This article is the work of someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. For now, I’d advise that you study more, and criticise less. Please and thank you.

    Reply
    • @Timah, hmmmn… really strong words… but most of your claims cannot be substantiated. The writer may not be an emergency googler of Aristotle. In trying to point out his fallacy, you engage in a fallacy yourself.

      Reply
    • There’s no need for insults. You don’t know the author so you can’t be dismissive of what makeup his beliefs are. If you feel so strongly in opposition to the opinion he’s entitled to, there are cordial ways to get your points across.

      Reply
    • Ochu Kalu

       /  January 14, 2014

      Guy, you have said nothing here. Instead of stating your opinion, you are directing your attack on the writer. Face the points and leave the writer alone.

      Reply
  24. Rita.

     /  January 10, 2014

    Let me start this way, this is a beautiful writeup. This Tobe has been writing some very good things, this is a very good piece. Well written, well thought out and showed that the writer is not a stranger to deep thinking. Walter, your friend writes very well.
    About the opinion passed across: first, let me say that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the best writers of this our generation, no one can take that from her. She has been writing beautifully, and in Americanah, she outdid herself in wit, style, perception of social nuances and all round storytelling. I would also say that I have learnt a lot from her and is still learning from her writing style and skill. She is indeed a master story teller.
    I am however an unapologetic moralist and that is because I am a Christian. The way I see and interact with the world is informed by my understanding of how a Christian ought to. That said, I have always had issues with the morality of Chimamanda’s stories. They do not cut it for me morality-wise because I am often very afraid (and I mean it) that the resolution leave us as a society not any better off for morals. Some of the comments claim you shouldn’t censor creativity as it is first and foremost to entertain. I don’t quite agree because if anything, written words and sung lyrics are what we know subconsciously moulds a people. Marriages are not perfect in Africa (where is it?), but we should make things better not worse. I was especially pained in the ending of Americanah that there was so much impunity on Ifemelu’s part. The girl had it all and got it all whenever she wanted at whatever high costs to others and their families. The story was set to dance to Ifemelu’s whims. It is the way Obinze tossed EVERYTHING aside and followed Ifemelu that actually bled my heart. Hmm!
    There are questions we must ask especially about that resolution. Who forced Obinze to marry K in the first place? Did he not do it by himself? Was a gun put to his head? If anything, was he not moved by his raw desires rather than love when he married? Why did the writer take the bigger risk of having a child involved and yet choose to go the divorce route? *i really had to ask that question* If they had no child and got divorced I would still be indignant but perhaps more forgiving, but the fact that d writer chose to go the extra mile of creating a child then having Obinze divorce his wife nonethelss shows there was a prior intent to rattle a people’s (Nigerian’s) way of thinking. In my opinion, that was consciously thought out and I am very uncomfortable with it. Please, what would have happened to the ‘loveless’ marriage if Ifemelu did not show up? Would it not have learned to discover its love and tried to survive?I have sooooo many questions about the ending of the piece and I wish I could ask them all. Suffice it to say, though, that I was not happy with it and I fully agree with Tobe’s point.
    I believe that Tobe is not trying to take away from our Nigerian Pride’s (Chimamanda’s) creative ability, nor that of any other writer, but he is calling all writers everywhere to be more responsible, using the power of words to shape society for the better. This, I think, is what Tobe writes.

    Reply
  25. The moral of the story is this:

    when you say anything contrary to the popular view about a popular/famous person (whether you are right or wrong- doesn’t really matter)…in the words of Ned Stark: Brace yourself…mean comments will come.

    Yeah. So…Walt, stepping into this debate? Uhm…I’ll take a ‘no’ on that.

    Reply
  26. manny

     /  January 10, 2014

    @timah: that’s argumentum ad hominem. Not good.

    Reply
    • yep… instead of her refuting the claims of the writer if she felt she has a contrary view, she rather chose to attack his personality.

      Reply
  27. Marthy

     /  January 11, 2014

    I read this and it reminds of the guy that wrote something about Chimamanda being no Achebe. Though I wouldn’t outrightly say this sucks as it has quite some points it struggled(in my opinion) to make. The sad thing about writing stuff like this is this pretentiousness it has to be an academic writing. I think it would have made a bit more sense if it had been a how-i-feel-about-it piece, rather than this laughable pedantic how-it-should-be piece. And didn’t Achebe say that one should write their own story if they didn’t like how an author had written? Just saying

    Reply
  28. Ifeatu

     /  January 11, 2014

    I understand you perfectly, I also asked myself that question when I finished Americanah.
    But I agree with you and disagree as well… The duty of a writer is to try and restore an ailing society, I agree, but I also believe the writer owes it to himself or herself to truly portray by writing what he or she deeply believes. Although one may dabble into confusion trying to define what a happy marriage should be, Chimamanda is simply saying that one should have the boldnes in life to pursue happiness regardless of the views of the society. YOLO so why live it miserably?
    I do not condone divorce, I feel it’s cowardly… But I also do not believe in living my life through the dictates of a society as well. After all a society is simply a collection of individuals as confused as I am.
    Anyway what I did not like about her novel was the fact that it was also soaked in the subject of racism… Isn’t that an over flogged subject? Racism just like corruption will never cease so far as the human race exists.
    Abeg lemme go n be useful this Saturday joo.
    Beautiful writeup. Have a nice day 🙂

    Reply
  29. mana

     /  January 11, 2014

    Took my tym 2 read thru all dem comments n I must say dat I was rili informed n educated by d lot as regards how dis shud be n how dat shud be, nevertheless if U̶̲̥̅̊’re in da art of writing, wieigh ur motive(s), is it jux 2 catch an audience/public attention? to make a name fr ursef? to be in da numbr of d Achebe’s n Soyinka’s? to win an award? to entertain? to prove a personal point? to compete? to argue? to establish a theory? to teach/educate rightly? to leave a legacy? to be a builder of society? to support gud n acceptable standards? to get pple informed fr d beta? or woteva.. d choice(s) are eva b4 u 2 choose, therefor choose wisely. Wel in d meantym thumbs up 2 Tobe my guy.
    By d way who da heck is dis timah, I aint feelin u mehn..

    Reply
  30. Fiction is fiction. Many people have their own view and how they assimilate things. If you love how Achebe ended his novel THINGS FALL APART, that is, okonkwo’s suicide, and you don’t appreciate how Adichie ends her novels because Jaja was released or because Obinze divorced his wife to marry his ex, then there is a problem. Was THINGS FALL APART trying to teach us to always commit suicide when things fall apart? Is there any moral justification in committing suicide?

    Written works are there to widen our knowledge, enlighten us, and entertain us. Every writer has the right to choose what to write and what not to write; how to end it and how not to end it. Adichie is only making use of her discretion.

    We should learn to remove the scales covering our understanding before we allow ourselves to have a disdain toward the work of someone.

    Reply
    • I was going to point out the example of several African writers who had the so-called amoral resolutions – Odili, the main character in Achebe’s A Man of the People, slept with a married white woman – was Achebe trying to advance illicit affairs?
      All stories do not have the obligation to end as a didatic one. African writing has been classified into the ‘refraction’ and ‘reflection’ categories. In the former, writers try to tell stories that transcend our realties and create positive alternatives – they refract from society. In the latter, writers can choose to reflect the society as it – Adichie can be classified under the reflectionists.

      Reply
  31. O.Simult

     /  January 11, 2014

    Well, I have taken pains to read this awesome piece of yours,and I have also taken pains to make a thorough appraisal of it, as far as my teenage but reasonably schooled brains would allow me though. I say, you have done well. This is truly a laudable and commendable piece… As much as I would have loved to be an onlooker,savouring the pleasure of being exposed to divergent views concerning a cogent matter that has always given me huge concern, the overwhelming urge to articulate my pent-up opinions seems to have gotten the better of me. Of a truth,writings are intended to entertain. Nonetheless, the fact that writings should also be used in correcting the wrongs in the society must not be undermined. And yet, these two salient reasons for writing should not be at the expense of each other. It grieves me when I see writers,artistes and especially musicians, with no substantive messages to give to the world… However,dear Sir.Tobe, I beg to differ on a point you raised. Are you insinuating that Chimamanda didn’t dish out any moral lesson at all? Or do you mean to say the conclusive end of the story should also have inculcated a lesson into us? Sir,it is a saying in Yorubaland that if the eyes stay calm and remain focused,they will surely see the nose. In that vein, if you had paid some more attention, you wouldn’t have missed some of the messages(or moral lessons,as it suits you) that she pontificated in the said books. Of course,sir,you don’t expect every leaf of the book to be laden with ‘moral lessons’. What we just need to bear in mind is that every work,apart from the entertainment derived, should also portray acts that would add value to the people. “My words are few! “

    Reply
  32. i think the most compelling writers are the ones who strive to tell a story, in particular for Black ppl, hence we must tell OUR story, is when the writer connects a sense of timing with a sense of purpose, and a driven sense of what next? i’m not a fan of Adichie, i find her to be a bit elitist in her point of view and i’m not attracted elitist art. I like art that comes from a natural place. She doesn’t do that for me.

    Reply
  33. C.N.N

     /  March 20, 2014

    Nice concept of criticism, but the writer’s emotion is what his or her book respects atimes… I love your view…

    Reply
  34. Onyinye Omenkwu-Anyale

     /  October 7, 2015

    Ogo m,u took words out of my mouth. I remember an argument we had in UI last year (English dept, Masters’ class), d lecturer was Dr Oriaku, text Americanah… D exact words I used were ‘Chimamanda has lost it’ (d first name is a liberty i took to highlight my grievances against, not just d immorality of Americanah’s ending but d blatant portrayal of it right from d beginning of d novel). A lot to discuss on this text, think it deserves a journal publication. We’ll surely talk on that

    Reply
  1. Tobe Writes: DECONSTRUCTING CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE AND HER SENSE OF POETIC JUSTICE | Izuudokwu's Blog

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