Civil Peace by Chinua Achebe: Critical Commentary

Civil Peace a war story, based on Nigerian background, presents a difficult situation of people living at the crossroads of life. The central character, Iwegbu, and his wife Maria have four children since one is killed in war. In the beginning, Iwegbu hides his bicycle, thinking that it would be stolen. Later, he starts using his bicycle as a vehicle and earns money.

Chinua Achebe

He gets his house repaired and opens an inn from where he maintains his daily expenditure. As time passes, suddenly 20 pounds the only property of Iwegbu is robbed by robbers at night. He and his family members scream for their protection from robbery, but nobody comes to help them. In this way, his cycle of poverty starts again.

The writer describes how the family of Jonathan Iwegbu struggles to settle happy family life after the establishment of peace in Nigerian in 1970. The civil war takes place between Biafria and the rest of Nigeria. The war lasts for about ten years and in the war thousand of people escape away leaving their home and country. By presenting the hard working couple Mr. and Mrs. Iwegbu, Achebe shows how many people of Nigerian have to work hard and have to face hardships to establish happy family life. On the other hand, the writer shows that war is always cruel and fruitless. It brings killings, death, hunger, suffering etc. to the people. After the civil war, a family of Nigerian people becomes homeless, jobless, poor and thieves for money, food and other basic needs. People begin to commit crimes. In this way, Achebe also presents a bitter satire against war. Finally, by presenting the hope of the hard working couple Mr. and Mrs. Iwegbu, Achebe show the hopeful and the confident future of the Nigerian people after the end of the civil war.

The title of the story ‘Civl Peace’ is very much significant. The term ‘Civl Peace’ is the creative twist, of the term civil war. The title of the story says that after the end of the civil war, civil peace is established. People become hardworking as well as hopeful for their bright future. Thus the writer gives more emphasis on the civil peace than the civil war. The title is ironic as well. It suggests event after the civil war. Different kinds of crimes, conflicts, tensions, fights, robbery ext exist in the society. Though the war is over, the normal order and complete peace is not established in the society.

The later part of the story is presented in the dramatic form to show conflict and emotions through action and dialogue. It heightens the tension and we the readers feel  that we are hiding  silently in one corner of Jonathan’s house and watching everything. The local language used by Iwegbu family further exploits the concept of localization as well as the events realistic in the story. The story writer has blended both standards and local languages to make the story real.

Reading on Civil Peace

Story of Civil Peace by Chinua Achebe

Summary of Civl Peace

Biography of Chinua Achebe