An Analysis of Culture in Things Fall Apart

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The novel “Things Fall Apart” written by Chinua Achebe, is a tale based on the traditional beliefs and customs of an Ibo village during late 1800’s Africa. Through the telling of this story, we witness the remarkable depth of Igbo culture through its functions of religion, politics, judiciary and entertainment. One of Achebe’s challenges was to illustrate the Ibo’s religious system. Even though the Ibo people had little contact with the outside world, they had developed their own beliefs and practices that became essential elements in their everyday lives. The Ibo religion played a role in the way they raised their families, communicated, entertained, and governed their society. Similar to those of the early Egyptian and Greek religions, the Ibo’s believed in several gods and goddesses that have been inspired from nature and its elements. Since the Ibo culture is dependent on agriculture and farming, they believe making peace with the gods will ensure a good harvest. This is illustrated on page 17 when Unoka is being told that, “…when a man is at peace with his gods and his ancestors, his harvest will be good or bad according to the strength of his arm.” This also demonstrates how the Ibo people believed their ancestors played an important role in religion, often consulting their spirits for advice and approval. It was believed that through good deeds and devotion to their gods and ancestors, that good fortune would follow. On page 27, Achebe introduces a proverb told by the Ibo, “…that when a person says yes, his chi says yes also,” demonstrating the Ibo belief that if one believes in their chi (another name for personal god), that they will support and ensure ones protection. But it was also believed that if one were to sin or do anything to offend the gods, that punishment might follow. A good example of this can be found on page 30 after Okonkwo beats his wife during the Week of Peace—a sacred time for the Ibo people. The priest of the earth goddess,...
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