Role of Christian missionaries


Basic guidelines for the 4-page book review (Seaver & Jemison or Achebe): In general, I suggest you come up with four or five main aspects of one of the two books, particularly dealing with the main character(s) and their struggle to maintain their identity (Seaver & Jemison:

Mary Jemison; Achebe: Okonkwo, his family and tribe). In Seaver and Jemison’s case you might highlight how the Mary Jemison overcame the horror of losing her family and her kidnapping to adopt to life with the Seneca. You could also underline her successes in becoming a tribal spokeswoman and intermediary as well as the tribulations of herself, her children and the others around her. In Achebe’s case, you could examine how Okonkwo failed to maintain his dignity and patriarchal sense of being in the face of impending late nineteenth-century British colonization (i.e. his loss of his son and much of his tribe to Christian missionaries, the failure of traditional warriors like himself to cope with social, economic, and political change).

You then should look at your class notes and try to connect the book to some of the fundamental trends in the course (Seaver & Jemison: native reactions to colonization and life on the American frontier; Achebe: Religious renewal and rebellion, Imperialism and anti-colonialist movements). I also might preface the work with something about the author and the bias she/he might have had (Seaver:

White minister who has an anti-native American agenda; Jemison: wants to protect her property and status, wants to be portrayed as a helpless victim; Achebe: contemporary member of upper-class Nigerian elite). Citations of other book reviews and secondary literature are not required.
Assignment: Every student is expected to compose a four-page, double-spaced, type-written review of James Seaver’s A Narrative of the Life of Mary Jemison, a biography about a young American girl taken captive by the Seneca tribe in the mid-eighteenth century OR Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, a story about an late nineteenth century African man and his struggle to maintain his honor and identity in the face of British colonization and Christian missionary activity.

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