This paper analyses the language used in the portrayal of the characters of Chinua Achebe’s novels. This is the language used by the characters in discourse, and the narrators in the novels. The study reveals that the protagonists start off as heroes and eventually end up as antiheroes on account of high-handedness, dishonesty, corruption, violence, sexual promiscuity, ill temperament, vindictiveness, and murder. The study applies the theory of deconstruction in the assessment of the characters and reveals that the protagonists are antiheroes rather than heroes: Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart (1958), Obi Okonkwo in No Longer at Ease (1960), Ezeulu in Arrow of God (1964), Odili Samalu in A Man of the People (1966), and Sam in Anthills of the Savannah (1988). In deconstructing the protagonists, the five primary texts are read the first time and they reveal the protagonists as heroes. This first reading forms the basis for the second deconstructive “critical reading” which unveils the heroes as antiheroes. The publications and the themes of the novels of Achebe span over pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial Nigeria. Subsequently, the paper concludes that as antiheroes, the protagonists are barbaric and are not good exemplary African leaders. The characters therefore present the novels they appear in as colonialist, rather than anti-colonialist literature. This paper therefore recommends that Achebe’s novels should be seen as colonialist literature.
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