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Title: Style, character, and the theme of struggle and change : Chinua Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah
Authors: Mwinlaaru, INI
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Source: Research in African literatures, Summer 2014, v. 45, no. 2, p. 103-121 How to cite?
Journal: Research in African Literatures 
Abstract: Following insights from stylistic studies on European and American literature, as well as few earlier attempts on African literature, there has been a recent growing interest in the stylistic analysis of the African novel. The present study is meant to contribute to this growing literature by exploring Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah, primarily from a systemic functional linguistics perspective. Critics of the novel have emphasized that it represents Achebe’s most articulate ideology on the sociopolitical situation of postcolonial Africa, in general, and Nigeria, in particular. The present study sheds new meaning on the thematic concern of the novel by exploring the interaction between narrative situation, transitivity patterning, and symbolism, on the one hand, and the characterization of Chris (one of the protagonists) and the themes of struggle and change, on the other hand. The study demonstrates that the systematic variation in narrative situations and transitivity patterns in which Chris is cast across key passages in the plot of the narrative show a transformation in his character, from powerlessness and ineffectiveness through perplexity and fear to self-reformation and bravery. This narrative and linguistic configuration of Chris’s characterization, together with the symbolic intervention he makes in saving a girl from abuse towards the end of the novel, realizes the theme of struggle and change. Through Chris, Achebe urges the enlightened but apathetic citizen to rise up and transform his society through struggle. The study has implications for studies on Anthills of the Savannah, stylistic analysis, and further research. It particularly shows that linguistic analysis and the tools of literary criticism can complement each other in the interpretation of literature.
ISSN: 0034-5210
DOI: 10.2979/reseafrilite.45.2.103
Rights: Posted with permission of the publisher.
Copyright ©2014 Indiana University Press
This article was published as Mwinlaaru, I. N. I. (2014). Style, Character, and the Theme of Struggle and Change: Chinua Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah. Research in African Literatures, 45(2), 103-121. ISSN 0034-5210. DOI: 10.1353/ral.2014.0022. No part of it may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or distributed in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photographic, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Indiana University Press. For educationre-use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center (508-744-3350). For all other permissions, contact the Press at
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