Things Fall Apart and the Second Coming

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Jennifer Moua
November 10, 2011
Period 2

Things Fall Apart and the Second Coming

Chinua Achebe based his story, "Things Fall Apart," on the poem by William Butler Yeats called "The Second Coming." These two pieces of literature have many similarities despite being two completely different pieces of literature. It is clearly shown that both authors wanted to illustrate great change between an old era to a new era with the changes taking place. Achebe begins his book with an excerpt to the beginning of the poem: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world” (Yeats, lines 1-4). Although Achebe begins with this excerpt, the phrase “things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” (Achebe, 3) is in direct correlation to Yeat’s poem of drastic change. Achebe describes the situation of the Igbo culture through these lines of the poem in which Yeats describes his own condition of the world. In the quote “things fall apart”, it is referenced by Achebe to foreshadow events that are to occur in the novel in which leads the protagonist Okonkwo to his greatest downfall as well as his death. Additionally, he hints at the chaos that arises when a system collapses to the new changes that take place upon the Igbo culture. In Mbanta and Umuofia children played an even larger role as they were the future and centre therefore, as “things [fell] apart”, “the centre cannot hold” together. The clans depended on the sons to continue their ways as they grew older and stronger. Once the younger people began to convert, it paved the way for others to join and for the church to get stronger. "The falcon cannot hear the falconer" (Yeats, line 2). The quote represents the growing gap between the young generation and the old, traditional generations. Achebe incorporates a similar interpretation of the quote as he describes the situation of the younger members of Mbanta...
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