When was this essay written? How unusual would his ideas have seemed in an American university setting of the time?
What are features of the style of Achebe’s essay? Does it resemble in style other essays we have read?
What initial personal incidents set the context of his discussion? (1783-84)
Why has Achebe chosen Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as his exemplary text? Has the status of this book changed in recent years?
What are features of the text which Achebe especially criticizes? Are these criticisms valid, in your opinion?
In particular, which aspects of human identity are denied to Africans in Conrad’s narrative? Among other issues, how does Conrad represent technically skilled Africans? African women?
On what grounds does Achebe reject the theory that Conrad’s novel is a satire of colonial evil? What does he think of the view that Marlowe is an unreliable narrator?
What does he see as the purpose of racist and imperialist texts such as Heart of Darkness? Why does he not find comforting the claim that the novel may be essentially about European greed?
What broader cultural attitudes does Achebe believe this novel reflects? Are his points still relevant?
What points does Achebe make about Conrad’s use of words, e. g. the term “kinship”?
What are features of Achebe’s language and tone?
What biographical information about Conrad does he use to supplement his readings?
What final example of exclusion does Acebe find telling? What is significant about its source?
What does Achebe believe can bring about change in Western attitudes toward Africa? Is he optimistic? With what claim does the essay end?
How does “An Image of Africa” differ from or reinforce the insights of other critics we have read?
Page numbers refer to the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism.