Saturday, September 8, 2007

Achebe's thoughts on storytelling

" . . . only the story . . . can continue beyond the war and the warrior. It is the story that outlives the sound of war-drums and the exploits of brave fighters. It is the story . . . that saves our progeny from blundering like blind beggars into the spikes of the cactus fence. The story is our escort; without it we are blind. Does the blind man own his escort? No, neither do we the story; rather it is the story than owns us and directs us."
--Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah

In your own words, explain how this relationship, this dialog might be negotiated. How does the story "own us?" How does it "save us" or "direct us?" Can literature provide a lens through which we might view and attempt to understand the world around us and (perhaps more importantly) our role in the world? Does a story or the act of storytelling provide us with the tools we might need to shape our identities in this increasingly global and complex world which we inhabit?

7 comments:

Kyle Yeung said...

Books has always been part of the literature. One of the reason is because it gives people ideas about things they view to the society and to the world. It directs to a different perspective. Thinking in a different perspective helps a people think differently. If a person thinks differently a lot of things can be changed. Which so books can save us from doing something wrong and direct us to do something good.
Kyle

Sam H. said...

Literature can always provide us a view and attempt to understand the world around us. It gives the reader a better picture to know or understand the things that happened on the world. Stories usually have a lesson to teach the readers, so they will be not make the same or similar mistake they had.

josh said...

From what I undestand in this quote is that chinua explains how a story will open thoughts to new readers and introduce them to things that they didnt know before. I also think that he says that the story puts off a general image of the characters and forces the readers to think what happens in the story is what happens always in the reality. Literature gives off an image of society, and generally if it is a good one than perhaps it might be one that shapes our leadership and character. Stories most likely give off two images, either good or bad. This will often drive a person to shape their way of life around actions that they pulled from the stories mood.
Josh Spector

Yizhuo Nie said...

The stories provide us clear images of our society and they also show us the history and the passed experiences. With the experiences, people will not make the same mistake again. They will learn from it and improve themselves. Therefore, a story can also be a reminder for our offspring to stop making the old mistakes. Most people have read about the dictatorship of Hitler from books and stories, and they know that dictatorship is brutal. Thus, people learned from this passed experience and now a vast majority of people in the world have a free society. Therefore, literature is absolutely helpful and it is a great reminder to correct the wrong conduct in the past.

Michelle said...

Michelle Hosogi

In some ways, it’s telling us that history repeats itself and we can only move forward in our pathways by recognizing and knowing our past. By knowing our past, the knowledge that we’ve gained can “direct us” and sometimes “save us.” Literature documents moments from life: how it was, how it is and how it could be. By documenting life, we can maybe gain a better understanding of it. A story or act of storytelling could benefit some people and the world, maybe like The Bible and how religion plays an important part in some people’s lives. Stories and storytelling might not benefit others at all.

conor sheary said...

After reading this quote by Achebe, it gave me many different perspective of how a story can affect someone. A story can make someone think that whatever happens in the story is the truth, even though the story may be in first persons persective. The book can also be an influence in a good way on a persons life. If a person takes out the "truth" of a story, then the influence on the person would be much more effective in their future.

trevor p. said...

People use literature for many things but one of the main things is to recount stories of the past. These stories tell us how to fix problems, but we have to fix the problems ourself. Achebe is saying that the story is more important, that it directs us and shows us what life can be. So we can improve ourselves and the world.
Trevor