Beyond Black and White: British Identity in Achebe’s Fiction

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


A glance at Achebe’s early novels may lead one to surmise that he approaches the English missionaries and colonial administrators as ruthless and bigoted interlopers who deceive and coerce Africans into submission. However, later works clearly demonstrate that Achebe does not reflexively stereotype the British, or more broadly whites. Examination, too, of the early novels reveals that the English characters are not inevitably straw men, held to account for British exploitation and oppression in Africa. To be sure, several English characters are exposed for their arrogance and prejudice, but Achebe’s representations of these characters, as with African ones, are at various points also multidimensional and sympathetic. “Sugar Baby” and Anthills of the Savannah bring Achebe’s representations of British and white identity full circle insofar as Father Doherty and John Kent, respectively, actualize the altruistic impulse that had motivated some previous Europeans in West Africa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAfrican Histories and Modernities
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NameAfrican Histories and Modernities
ISSN (Print)2634-5773
ISSN (Electronic)2634-5781

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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