Thursday, September 21, 2006

As in other literature that we have read discussing the adverse and positive affects of cities on the lives of those who travel through and live in them, it is certainly apparent that the city is considered the mecca of opportunity and prosperity. I think, in turn, Achebe's portrait of Obi's Nigerian village represents more of a family than what we would contemporarily view as a town; this family is responsible for teaching its son values and traditions by which to live. I think that it is a very interesting and pertinent point that it is his village that teaches Obi his traditional standards and values, but to assume that he would not have reduced himself to accepting bribery and participating in the corruption that surrounded the Nigerian government had he never left Umuofia and traveled to the city may be a bit of a stretch, as he is exposed to the notion of advancing one's social status by any means possible by other members of his village, or family.

Corruption in the Nigerian government seemed commonplace, and virtually inescapable to Obi, "[Obi's] theory that the public service of Nigeria would remain corrupt until the old Africans at the top were replaced by young men from the universities was first formulated in a paper read to the Nigerian students in London."(44) But as an acceptional scholar and strong willed individual, I believe that Obi would have undoubtedly, at one point or another, have encountered this same corruption had he remained in the village of Umuofia the rest of his life.

By exposing himself to the cosmopolitan way of life, Obi was not simply presented with the opportunity to particpate in corrupt government, but also experience with the tools to combat such a way of life. In fact, the reader sees the first "casual" mention of bribery on Obi's return to his village after receiving his education in London,
"'Have they given you a job yet?' the chairman asked Obi over the music.
In Nigeria the government was always 'they'. It had nothing to do with you or me.
It was an alien institution and people's business was to get as much from it as they
could without getting into trouble. 'Not yet. I'm attending an interview Monday.'
'Of course those of you who know book will not have any difficulty,' said the Vice-President
on Obi's left. 'Otherwise I would have suggested seeing some of the men
It seems to me that the culprit behind such rash decisions to forgo one's established set of values is a result of a desire to get ahead--a desire which in Obi's case could have been a product of the stress of shouldering the hopes for advancement of his entire village. I think that Achebe is making the point that, while in fact his character's relocation to the city does play a pivotal role in his decision to accept a bribe, it is the infiltration of Western ideas and standards into the Nigerian villages and the distorted view of success and the means by which it is acceptable to achieve such a successful status is what ultimately drives Obi to corruption.