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By Chinwe Christiana Okechukwu

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Additional info for Achebe the Orator. The Art of Persuasion in Chinua Achebe's Novels

Example text

One might observe that there are also converts among the people of Umuofia. Even Nwoye, Okonkwo's son, is becoming prominent among the white man's group. Achebe anticipates this counterargument and takes care of it before it arises. The men who are converted from Umuofia are the efulefus, the "excrement" of the clan (143; ch. 16). Their conversion is an opportunity for them also to get back at Umuofia. In the case of Nwoye, Achebe has already shown the reader Nwoye's effeminate predisposition and preferences.

Successful persuasion selects appropriate materials and creates a "presence" that moves an audience. The selection and presentation of materials make the materials important and pertinent. Not only that, the materials thus selected and presented act directly on the audience's sensibility and force the audience to react to them because, as Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca insist, "[i]t is not enough indeed that a thing should exist for a person to feel its presence. Accordingly, one of the preoccupations of a speaker is to make present, by verbal magic alone, what is actually absent...

These are such ideas as acknowledgement of the traditional penalty that the offending clan will give two people, a virgin and a lad, to appease the people of Umuofia. Nobody questions why Umuofia should demand two heads in place of one. Everybody knows that it is the normal course of action. As Weaver rightly observes, these uncontested terms seem to attract contest but do not do so in their own contexts. The orator is at liberty to use them when the premises they represent are accepted by all.

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