By Neil McEwan (auth.)
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Extra resources for Africa and the Novel
Madame's momentary amusement, followed by boredom, when he tells her about the porcupine traps; Father Gilbert's corrective kick when Toundi mimics him; the schoolmaster's belief that education must start by assuming that Africans know nothing these are the proper targets for satire.
As he gradually loses his respect for the French, the tone and style of the narrative became more adult; but the satire is nowhere stronger than in the early sections. Toundi's first account of himself suits the context of a school exercise- book - it comes not in 'Chapter I' but in the 'premier cahier' - and seems to be a repetition of a lesson learned from Father Gilbert - perhaps a dictee. 'Everything I am I owe to Father Gilbert', says the small Toundi; Oyono's French is more exact: 'je dois ce que je suis devenu au Pere Gilbert'.
Although Achebe does not dwell on the point which Hartley makes, that the period between 1900 and 1950 is the 'longest' and most dreadful half-century in history, his sense of how things have changed is not very different from the Englishman's. Nigeria was like England in 1900 in being subject to violent, unpredictable upsets. Brown, Smith and the District Commissioner had more common grounds for belief with Umuofians than with many modern thinkers at home, as is suggested in the scene where Brown and an elder of the tribe hold an amicable discussion of monotheism in Chapter 21.
Africa and the Novel by Neil McEwan (auth.)