One of Africa’s most distinguished writers, Chinua Achebe, has There was the madman who reported back to his hinterland village after what must have been. In spite of the success of Chinua Achebe’s short stories, critics have paid some of the stories especially “The Madman” and “Civil Peace” pass. In his short story, “The Madman”, Prof. Chinua Achebe (of blessed memory), easily Africa’s most celebrated novelist of the twentieth century.

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Taken from his Girls at War and Other Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and acnebe the beginning of the story the reader realises that Achebe may be exploring the theme of struggle. Though Nwibe can go to the local market he prefers to travel to Eke because he knows that it is a bigger market.

Despite it being a struggle and a two day journey to Eke Nwibe is dedicated when it comes to traveling to the market. He overcomes the obstacles of the lorry drivers on the road who frown upon him walking in the middle of the road.

Also the young children who shout at Nwibe as he makes his way to the market Nwibe ignores them and remains determined to reach the market. If anything Achebe may be suggesting that Nwibe is not only prepared to incur difficulty in order to reach the market but he remains determined regardless of what may happen.

Though ironically at the end of the story what happens Nwibe on the way to the market is life changing in a manner that he does not expect. Achebe also appears to be exploring the theme of appearance.


Nwibe longs hcinua be a member of the honoured hierarchy in the village and there is a sense that by becoming a member of the village hierarchy Nwibe will be more respected by others. This may be important as it suggests that appearance is important achfbe Nwibe. Despite the conflict that exists between two of his wives Udenkwo and Mgboye Nwibe is determined to advance within the community.


To be as respected as those who are already part of the local hierarchy. Though again as the story progresses there is a further sense of irony when it becomes clear to the reader that rather than being respected by the local hierarchy Nwibe is ignored by them. No one seems to believe his story that his clothes have been robbed by a madman and instead each character in the story views Nwibe as the one who is mad. No longer is he viewed upon as being a successful businessman rather he is treated as if he is insane.

Even though the reality is very much different. How affected Nwibe might be is noticeable by the fact that he no longer acts the same. He becomes quiet, withdrawn and begins to avoid engaging with those in the village. Which may be very natural considering that he has fallen from quite a height. Having once been respected in the village this chinuw no longer the case.

It is also possible that Achebe is suggesting that regardless of the individual should the majority of people disbelieve a person or go against them. They too like Nwibe will find it difficult to live their lives as they have previously done. The end of the story is also interesting.

Any plans he had to join the ranks of the local hierarchy have been lost. All due to a misunderstanding. Not only has Cuinua lost the ability to advance further within the community but any position that he did hold in the community may also have been lost.

The significance of Chinua Achebe’s short stories – Part 1

However what is really noticeable at the end of the story is that Nwibe regardless of the perception of others still attempts to be initiated by the local hierarchy. This may be important as it suggests that the determination that Nwibe showed at the beginning of the story by travelling to the market has returned.


If anything there is a sense at the end of the story that the incident with the madman has left Nwibe a broken man. Nwibe is to continue his life struggling to get back to the position or place he once held or knew. While at the same time having to accept that those in authority in the village may never change their perception of him. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.

Girls at War, and Other Stories – The Madman, The Voter Summary & Analysis

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Cite Post McManus, Dermot. The Sitting Bee, 12 Nov. Facebook Twitter Email Print. A very artistic short story with an influential theme! Dermot Post Author March 11, 9: Thanks for the comment Regnard.

I would agree with you.

Girls at War, and Other Stories – The Madman, The Voter Summary & Analysis

It is a fantastic story. Nikky September 5, 4: The story teaches didactic and satire in the society which means no condition is permanent.

Dermot Post Author September 5, 4: Thanks for the comment and insight Nikky. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Chibua, your blog cannot share posts by email.