Your Voice: A Student Publication


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Your Voice: A Student Publication


Your Voice: A Student Publication


Swing Time Abstract – Class Project – Angie Niver


A Conversation between Swing Time and Things Fall Apart

While Things Fall Apart reclaims a western narrative that silenced and misrepresented victims of colonialism, Swing Time parallels that story in order to display how colonialism is replicated in the contemporary world. Putting these texts in conversation with each other reveals both how colonialism is still practiced, and how descendants of colonialism are severed from their culture, history, and identity. Things Fall Apart executes it’s narrative through the protagonist, Okonkwo, who is characterized by his strength and tough demeanor, but the traumas of colonialism drove him to suicide. Simultaneously, the District Commissioner describes his process “pacifying” the natives, and reduces Okonkwo’s experience to just an “interesting paragraph.” Swing Time accomplished its commentary on postcolonialism through an unnamed main character whose experiences are defined by her servitude in the relationships close to her. The narrator’s attitude is often critical, pessimistic, and insecure. She is often passive and lacks agency in her life and her decisions. The narrator spends the book as a metaphor, her lack of dimension displaying the ways descendants of colonialism are severed from their culture and history. To demonstrate, her relationship with Aimee, a white celebrity who’s humanitarian efforts are misguided at best, displays the ways in which colonialism still exists in the contemporary world. Her actions, like building a school in an (again) unnamed country in Africa, or adopting African children, might appear generous, but the narrator’s skepticism reveals Aimee’s motivations are grounded more in maintaining her humanitarian image rather than providing aid in any meaningful way. Aimee parallels the District Commissioner’s character, essentially colonizing the protagonist. Reading these texts through the postcolonial lens is revelatory of its legacy and replication in our world. 


Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Penguin Classics, 2006.

Zadie Smith, Swing Time. New York. Penguin Press, 2016.

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

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