Monday, September 24, 2007

Why the tortoise?

In chapter eleven, Ekwefi recounts the story of the tortoise to her daughter Ezinma. What is the purpose of this story? In other words, why did Achebe include it in this chapter? What value--either symbolic or metaphorical--might it possess? Write a short response--think informal SPA paragraph--to illustrate your thoughts.

This response is due Thursday, at the start of class.

25 comments:

Kyle Yeung said...

The reason the author wrote the tortoise story is because he is trying to refer the tortoise to Okonkwo. The tortoise is a very greedy animal in the story. Which is the same as Okonkwo. Okonkwo is a very slefish man. He only cares about his feelings and not the other people. Thinking for themselves not thinking for others means selfish. Okonkwo only knows how to hit his wives and children when is is angry. That is very greedy and instead he should think of something to do to solve the problem. Even though at that period of time the people are not as educated as they are now. However, if Okonkwo give some time to think about it, I am sure he can understand how to think for others and not be greedy.

trevor said...

I think the tortoise story was important, and possible foreshadowing of upcoming events. think that the author is trying to tell the reader that greed will only come back to you in the end. Okonkwo can be very greedy at times, almost to the extreme. Such as the time when he got the seeds from Obierka. He got 800 from Obierka and another 400 from his dad's friend. That is a large amount of seeds for harvest, but what he got is a terrible season where he could not grow any of them. I have a feeling that some people or someone is going to enter the world of Okonkwo's tribe and try to take advantage of them, but in turn get there wings taken from them.

Michelle said...

The purpose of the tortoise story is that one should never be greedy because in the process of greed and achieving everything you desire, people will get hurt along the way. The tortoise and Okonkwo can be compared to each other in the way that Okonkwo exerts strength to get power but the down side is that his family fears him. If Okonkwo keeps up his emotionless face, his family will abandon him in the end of his life. Achebe included the tortoise story in this chapter because he wanted to show the readers that Okonkwo will one day end up in a bad situation because of his greed or lack of attentiveness to others, just like the tortoise. The value of this story is that the tortoise’s greed and lack of care for others is a symbol of Okonkwo’s lack of care for others.

josh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
josh said...

The purpose of the tortoise story was for two reasons. The first reason is being a lesson to Ezinma as how she should go about her life. It teaches her to think, and be considerate when around other people. To earn respect in such a society you need to also demonstrate some to others. The other big purpose would be that Ekewfi is trying to show Ezinma that her father can be inconsiderate and careless at times. He is only looking out and caring about himself making him an ungrateful and selfish person. It could be a possible foreshadow to future chapters on how Okonkwo might have a tragic downfall making this novel a tragedy.

Sam H. said...

Basically, Achebe put the story of the tortoise to tell a lesson about the result of greediness, and also give an explanation of tortoise's rough shell. This story describe how the cunning tortoise tricked the birds to give him two wings to join the feast. He ruined the feast, and the birds took back the wings they gave him and the parrot deliver the wrong message to his wife to revenge on him. This story taught a lesson that greediness can cause anybody to lose everything. Okonkwo is similar to the tortoise in this story. Okonkwo did not care about the others' feeling, and it might cause him to lose everything.

conor said...

The reason that Achebe wrote the story of the tortoise, was to show the comparison between the tortoise and Okonkwo. They both have a lot of greediness and disrespect for others. When the tortoise shows greediness to the birds, they take back the feathers they gave him and cause for him to break his shell. An example of Okokwo showing disrespect was when he used the excuse that his son, Nwoye, was lazy and it reminded him of his father, so he beat him. He also showed disrespect when he beat his wife during th Week of Peace and when he shot at his wife. I think because of all these bad and uneccesary acts that Okonkwo pulled, something will come back to get him just the way it happened to the tortoise.

Brandon said...

The Story of the tortoise is all about greed. When the author mentions the tortoise, he's talking about Okonkwo and how he's super greedy sometimes, if not all the time. Because when he's mad at something, he takes it out on his children, and on his wives, and after he's done it he doesn't think twice about what he did or how they feel. He just cares about getting rid of his anger, and he only cares about his feelings, and beliefts. Cause yet again he doesn't want to be anything like his father.

Yizhuo Nie said...

The tortoise story is telling the readers that it would be better not to cheat on innocent people. In reality, what you do bad comes back to you and no one will outfox the punishment. Tortoise is full of cunning and greedy. The quote"You are full of cunning...begin your mischief.(97)" shows that tortoise is greedy and it foreshadows that the tortoise is going to cheat on the birds. Tortoise then indeed cheats on the birds by using his cleverness. "His shell broke into pieces...that is why tortoise's shell is not smooth.(99)" Finally, tortoise gets his punishment from the birds. From the beginning to Chapter15, the readers still cannot find any specific detail related to the idea above. Here is a wild guess due to the history background, the tortoise story is a hint on colonialism. The white colonialists starts landing on Ibo and getting their profit from the Ibo society. However, they kill the native people and do bad things. It is the same idea to cheating on innocent people. Therefore, the author is using the story to warn people not to cheat on innocent people and take advantages from them. Also, people deserves punishment because of immoral conduct.

Sina said...

In the Book “Things fall Apart”, Chinua Achebe uses some traditional folktales, like the story of the tortoise, which Ekwefi tells her daughter Enzima.
Ekwefi begins the same way as Europeans begin a tale, saying “Once Upon a time” (p. 96).
The story is about a tortoise, which predicates the importance of stories and their pedagogical value.
In my opinion they describe the morals and values of the society through these apparently tales of animals. In addition to that they relate to the events of the novel.
In this case, the consequences are high, as the bird gets revenge and the tortoise’s shell is scarred, as the story provides the lesson to not be greedy and selfish, which concerns to the characteristics of Okwonko.
All in all the message of the story is that “you should do as you would be done by”.

Mariah said...

In chapter 11, Achebe makes a reference to the tortoise story and compare's the tortoise to Okonkwo. He does this to compare the two characters and show they are both selfish. This is foreshadowing becuse Okonkwo has been selfish but we have not seen a major effect due to his narcisism. The tortoise on the other hand has faced the consequences of being selfish and how it will get you knowhere in life, but only bring you down.

Jennifer Chung said...

I think the purpose of this story is to warn readers not to be so greedy. Sometimes, people tend to desire something that is not capable of them. Even if you seemed to achieve something that is incapable, sometimes later it will turn out to be false. Because the tortoise was too greedy, he lied to the birds who gave him the feathers to make wings. However, at the end, the birds took their feathers back, because the tortoise deceived them. "But before they left each took back the feather he had lent to Tortoise." (99) Achebe is warning people by this story that people should be honest and shouldn't be greedy.

Louisa C. said...

In chapter eleven the story about the tortoise is told to Ezinma because she is sick and can't do much else other then think and listen. In this story about the tortoise the point is to show younger people in the village that you should not take advantage of what is given to you. in the story the birds are kind to the tortoise but once they get to the party the tortoise eats all the food leaving the birds who helped him with nothing in return the parriot tell the tortoise's wife false information which in the end causes him to get his shell broken. So in the end becuase he was rude to the birds he was punished in the end.

Benjamin Salas said...

In chapter 11, Ekwefi tells Ezinma the story of a tortoise. The story is included in Achebe’s story, to foreshadow the colonialism that will take place in Africa later on. Okonkwo’s second wife, Ekwefi, is going to tell this story to her daughter so she can understand the importance of being realistic and not fooled by others. In the story, the tortoise represents the European countries coming to foreign lands and conquering them with no moral or ethical manner. The turtle fooled all the birds and got advantage of their resources, just like Europeans did with African countries. However, the story ends showing the reader that this is not the correct way to relate with people. Achebe includes the story to show the negative impact of colonialism in African countries. He also shows the reader the negative long term consequences that this brought to Africa, representing it with the broken shell of the tortoise.

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