Earlier in this unit the students read the New York Times obituary for Chinua Achebe. From that obituary they extrapolated Chinua Achebe's seven purposes for writing. We begin this class with reviewing what we have already discussed about his motivations.
This review will lead to a synthesis activity to wrap up the novel and prepare the students to write a literary analysis. The students are going to compare the motivations inferred from the obituary to Things Fall Apart. They have to determine using evidence from the text if the inferences they made about Achebe before we began reading the novel hold up to scrutiny.
Now students need to prove that the motivation they inferred from the obituary is plausible by finding evidence in Things Fall Apart (RL 9-10. 1). Some of his motivations are deeply rooted in the colonial Nigeria of his youth. Therefore, the students have to consider how colonialism impacts a post-colonial writer (RL 9-10. 6).
There are seven motives and seven tables in my class. Each group is assigned a motivation. Since this is a summative activity, I want to see how they come together as a group and determine how to use the text to prove or disprove the motivation (SL 9-10 1b). The students have the grading sheet to provide guidance on the content of their presentation. When the class read the obituary earlier in the unit, they wrote Achebe's motivations on giant post-its. Now each group takes the giant post it that has their assigned motivation on it. They have to put the evidence from the text on the post-it (RL 9-10.1) and then present it to the class. In the presentation, they have to say how their evidence proves or disproves the inference (SL 9-10. 4). I will answer questions and provide guidance when necessary.
The question is how does Things Fall Apart prove or disprove Achebe's motivations for writing? Here are the seven motivations they inferred from the obituary.
1. He wanted to use literature as a weapon against western biases.
2. His writing was inspired by history of his own family.
3. “In his writing and teacher Mr. Achebe sought to reclaim the continent from western literature which he felt had reduced it to an alien, barbaric, and freighting land devoid of its own art and culture.”
4. Emotional trauma from the civil war inspired his writings. (What year from was the Civil War?) Change: The reading he studied thought his education influenced his writing.
5. Chinua Achebe was inspired by threat and loss of Africans through colonialism. The threat is from European Empires and loss of independence in Africa.
6. “There is such a thing as absolute power over narrative. Those who secure this privilege for themselves can arrange stories about others pretty much when, and as, they like.”
7. His father became a Christian and worked for a missionary teacher in various parts of Nigeria.
After the presentations, I tell them that we are going to start our literary analysis on Things Fall Apart. It will be a group essay so everyone needs access to google docs. Any student that does not have a gmail account needs to see me. I will spend the last part of class contacting parents to get permission for their child to create a gmail account for this class.