Chinu Achebe’s story entitled “Civil Peace” is a depiction of social oppression into the community of the poor and incapable of defending their selves especially the laborers or the slaves. Jonathan, the main character of the story was illustrated as a man of confusion and agony. The most important thing to him was his family so he did everything to make his wife and children lives. He worked hard and does things that he can do to earn few coins for survival. However, at the end of it all, he remained oppressed by his authority or by the people who are more powerful than he is.
“Though it was not right that a man in such an extremity of agony should be blamed yet many in the queues that day were able to remark quietly on the victim’s carelessness, especially after he pulled out the innards of his pocket and revealed a hole in it big enough to pass a thief’s head (Achebe 31).” T
his is the greatest fear of Jonathan – to die because of his own carelessness and weakness. He is too afraid that he might be suspected having money in his pocket and took his cash. After taking from him his little wealth, he might be paralyzed and be left in vain so he became extra sensitive and aware of the things around him. However, at the end of the narrative, his money still went to others’ hands.
By reading this kind of narrative, readers would feel the emotions, fear, anxiety, and madness of the main character. I as a reader wanted to help the protagonist but the author herself did not put any resolution to the conflict. She left the narrative into the edge of pain and sufferings of Jonathan’s family without any act of defending their rights as people.
Though there is a concept of yearning for the mercy of God, the protagonist and his family could not act for what they wanted because they were oppressed in the society that made the story a tragic scenario – with no resolution and deepness of conclusion.
Achebe, C. “Civil Peace” pp. 28-34