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Visual Essay: Civil Peace by Chinua Achebe

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by

Happy I

on 30 April 2013

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Transcript of Visual Essay: Civil Peace by Chinua Achebe

Plot Symbolism Theme Characterization Conflict Narrative This is a fictional story that relates to the aftermath of the Nigerian Civil War which happened between 1967 and 1970. CIVIL PEACE By: Happy Inibhunu Chinua Achebe The narrator is the famous Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe. The point of view of this story is told in the form of third-person limited as the author can only retell the events through the eyes of Jonathan Iwegbu, the protagonist. The short story was written in the form of a prose as it does not contain any verses or composed in a specific meter.
The theme of "Civil Peace" is that one should be thankful for all the things they have in life whether it be their families or their belongings; to not dwell on things that bring on chaos, and; to have faith in the concept that God is there to take care of us and that our lives are a part of his agenda. An example of this theme being depicted in the narrative is particularly in the beginning of the short story. Jonathan is grateful that most of his immediate family survived the war except for one, his youngest son, and that God has a bigger plan for his people in Nigeria, especially the Igbo people. Individual vs. Society The Iwegbu family was in opposition with a large group of robbers that came to take 100 pounds from the household. The family did not want to be left with no money after the theft as they would have nothing to live on. Individual vs. Nature Jonathan was fighting to make sure his family did not go through the famine that was appearing after the war. He tried numerous ways such as transforming his bicycle into a taxi to raise money for food. Achebe was born on 16 November 1930 at Ogidi, Anambra State, Nigeria. Achebe died on 21 March 2013 at the age of 82 at Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. The African Trilogy In June 2007, Achebe was awarded the Man Booker International Prize.

In 2010, he received the 2010 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. This is one of the richest prizes for arts as the recipient receives $300,000. He assisted with the creation of the "Voice of Nigeria" network when he became the Director of External Broadcasting for NBS (Nigerian Broadcasting Service). He helped promote African writers by publishing their books, poems, and short stories. An example of this is when he helped Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, a Kenyan writer, with his book, "Weep Not, Child". Achebe is an Igbo man who is known as the "grandfather of Nigerian literature'' and the "father of modern African writing''. Jonathan's old bicycle that he luckily found in the little clearing where his youngest son died symbolizes hope and a new beginning for the Iwegbu's family. This was a specific item that brought the family back to humanity after the war. The fresh palm-wine that Jonathan made in the bar in his house signifies the washing away of grief and sadness that occurred during the Civil War. The Iwegbu's home represents shelter and comfort for this family. It symbolizes a part of their family as they built this home from the ground with their bare hands and they have lived in it for many years. The akara balls that Maria Iwegbu, the wife of Jonathan, makes in the morning for her neighbours represents new life in the community and a way to cherish the traditions and memories the community had prior to the war. The egg-rasher (an ex-gratia award for return of the rebel money) symbolizes corrupt and conflict that resulted in terrible consequences due to the war. Jonathan is a static character. He has been open-minded, wise, resourceful, reliable, and understanding throughout the short story. According to the narrative, Jonathan Iwegbu is an Igbo man who lives in Biafra, Nigeria. His family lost a member, the youngest son, during the Nigerian Civil War. This resulted in the family being reduced to five members. After the war, he and his family were lucky to have their home still reside in Ogui Overside. Some physical traits that are portrayed from the short story in relation to Jonathan are that he is apparently strong, muscular, slim, tall, has a sincere facial expression, dark-skinned, and has a shaved head. A common statement that Jonathan uses after every significant event that occurs in this narrative is, "Nothing puzzles God". His family always looks to him as their hero. His neighbours perceive him as a wise and religious man who follows the path of God and takes life one step at a time with a positive attitude. His community praises him for the kind acts that he and his family have done to bring life in their society after the war. Literary Genre This literary piece is a type of short story that corresponds with the genre of historical fiction. The genre is historical fiction because the setting in which this story takes place is related to the Civil War in Nigeria. The characters are not real but the situations and outcomes that they went through are factual. The plot starts out with Jonathan Iwegbu telling the readers his feelings. Later on, in the story, the readers learn about the actions the family has done to try to restore life in their community.


In the middle of the plot, a group of robbers approach the Iwegbu's home demanding for 100 Biafran pounds. Jonathan reluctantly gives the robbers 20 pounds after he tried informing the thieves that the family had barely anything to offer.


At the end of the plot, the Iwegbu family do the same routine they have done ever since the end of the war. Their neighbours come to condole but notice that the past event has not changed the family but made them stronger.
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