Western Culture 103
Professor De Luca
November 14, 2012
The Overcoming of Culture
In the novel Things Fall Apart, written by Chinua Achebe, the fight to secure one’s culture literally falls apart as strong cultural influences come into African tribes of the lower Nigeria, one being the Umuofia clan. Before jumping ahead to the aggressive Western Civilization influence into the Ibo land, I will also be depicting the cultural traditions of Okonkwo’s tribe. The robust differences of one’s traditional way of life differing from another’s leads to major conflict, thus being one of many strong points throughout Things Fall Apart; I see this as one of the most interesting subjects that are brought up in the novel in because it shows how the ways of living are influenced by others that see their culture as better. Also in being because this particular breakdown shows sides of societies in history that are seem to be advanced pushing their beliefs and way of life upon others that to them seem primitive. Throughout my analysis of Things Fall Apart, I will be fallowing Kant’s philosophical rationing and defending the Ibo culture of life to the confrontation of foreign relations and customs that the white man brings along.
The life of Okonkwo is a story of its own; his whole life has been affected by different types of cultures and the inevitable result leads to his death. Towards the beginning of the novel, the Ibo people don’t know of white man; they see the white man as a rare thing to see. On the other hand, African tribes do have contact and relations with neighboring clansmen. One of the major events that occurred between clans is when Okonkwo and his fellow tribesmen nearly go to war over the death of Ogbuefi Udo’s wife against the Mbaino people. Going through this process to decide if there will be war or not is not what many would see for African tribes. The Umuofia people don’t just bear up arms and go to war; they contemplate on the actions that were done and also look towards a peaceful way to settle the actions. Most all other nearby clans fear the Umuofian people do to their resilient way of life of war, so many fear of starting disputes with them. When the problem of Ogbuefi Udo’s wife being murdered arises, the Umuofian people fallow their ways in not resorting to action in war off the bat but try to find a peaceful equilibrium. The two tribes do find and agree on a transaction of peace that pleases the Umuofian people by having an exchange for their loss. This exchange, that the Umuofian clan decided to be fair and just, would be a young man and a virgin woman. Since Okonkwo is a strong leader in the clan, he will be taking the young man under him to raise.
Okonkwo is a man that lives firmly to his and his clan’s way of culture. Okonkwo grew up under his father to which he sees as a weak and as a feministic figure in his life. His father borrowed money without paying it back and squandering his life with not much to show for it. Okonkwo grows to be exactly the opposite of him. His early life brought about a side of life that he resented and feared to be his own. Therefore out of his early ages of being introduced to feministic ways of life from his father, he turns to the path of just the opposite. As a man he becomes a talented farmer and a fearsome warrior; by Okonkwo achieving these attributes, he makes a name for himself and is a highly looked figure amongst his tribe. Looking back at the transaction that was done between the Mbaino and the Umuofian clans, Okonkwo takes the young man into his household. Okonkwo was chosen for taking up the young boy named Ikemefuna due to his high position in the clan. Okonkwo is a man of sturdiness and harsh reinforcement in his family; he rules it with a high hand, opposite of his father. As he takes the boy from Mbaino, Ikemefuna, into his household he begins to become fond of him because he shows attributes of manliness and as a good figure for...