On the surface these two novels have precious little in common, but a deeper reading reveals that Ba and Achebe using broad strokes of their pen have traversed much of the same terrain with regard to themes like tradition, gender roles, oppression, religion and the like. Preceding a comparative analysis of the two, information about the authors, summary of the plots and an understanding of the recurring themes is called for.
Mariama Ba was a Senegalese writer who wrote largely about the social injustices meted out to women. She belonged to a traditional Muslim family. Thanks to her father she received a good education at a prestigious French school despite prevailing tradition which did not encourage the education of women. Her talent as a writer manifested itself at an early age when she wrote bold and thought-provoking articles for journals and newspapers. So Long a Letter was her first novel and it won the Noma Prize. Following its success she wrote the Scarlet Song, her final contribution to literature.
So Long a Letter is a novel told in epistolary style that is it...
She recounts the twists and turns both their lives have taken. Finally she furnishes details about her new life even as an uncertain future beckons to her. Her unique style allows readers intimate glimpses into the life of the protagonist which transports them into the core of her existence. According to Pritchett, in this novel "Thoughts on constitutional politics, economic development, and international relations combine easily with thoughts on life, love, marriage, childrearing, duty to others and self" (50).
About Achebe and Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe is a world- renowned Nigerian writer. He attended the Government College in Umuahia and University College in Ibadan. In the course of his readings he was appalled to note the way Africans were portrayed and set about trying to remove the stereotypical impressions created by such works. He had an impressive career as a writer and received prestigious awards. His works include Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God and Anthills of the Savannah.
Things Fall Apart tells the tale of the rise and fall of an Igbo man named Okonkwo. Starting of with few advantages Okonkwo drags himself to the uppermost realms of success and just when he begins to enjoy the trappings of success, circumstances lead to his taking an innocent life and this event marks the beginning of his decline. The tragic flaws in his character lead to his downfall and ultimate destruction.
Thematic Concerns of Ba and Achebe
The works of Ba and Achebe need to be viewed within the context of colonialism, which nearly annihilated the traditions, beliefs, value systems and culture of native Africa. The aftermath of colonialism, the