‘Things Fall Apart’, a novel by Chinua Achebe, has achieved textual integrity through a set of core ideas which are developed through the characters and events in the novel. The novel shows the drastic effect of white missionaries who colonise an African clan of Ibo people; bringing with them a new religion as well as laws, punishments and very different customs. Events described in the narrative highlight that a community and or an individual must at some point adapt to change and a new environment or face being marginalised by the society. Okonkwo also works very hard to show his strength, as an individuals fear of failure and social humiliation may influence their behaviour in society as well as isolate them. Particular characters in the novel manifest how religion and spirituality create a sense of safety and stability in society as well as something to fear. Achebe has portrayed these concepts in the community of the Ibo people through the coming of the missionaries and the downfall of the protagonist, Okonkwo.
A community and or individual must at some point adapt to change and a new environment or face being marginalised by the society. When the white missionaries come to the village of Mbanta they eventually build a hospital and a school, and welcome everyone to join in their beliefs bringing the isolated and the deserted together and giving them meaning in their lives. This is in harsh contrast to Okonkwo who wants to resist and bring back the familiar and known ways of the clan. “Okonkwo said that ‘until the abominable gang was chased out of the village with whips there would be no peace’”. This harsh statement conveys his unbending personality and his narrow view of the way the situation should be dealt with; as he sits contrary to his clansmen. This inability to adapt and accept the changes in his community lead to Okonkwo's ultimate downfall. “That man was one of the greatest men in Umofia. You drove him to kill himself;” The white Commissioner was blamed for the death of Okonkwo; blamed for his suicide. At some point it becomes a necessity to change adapt or even simply accept new arrivals and change or face not being able to live.
An individuals fear of failure and social humiliation may influence their behaviour in society as well as isolate them. Okonkwo has worked his whole life to be different to his father and show the strength he has in him. It plays a huge part in his personality and affects how he treats people and how he reacts to things; always trying to be the opposite of his father who in his eyes was a failure. “Fortunately among these people a man was judged according to his worth and not according to the worth of his father.” Achebe’s dramatic irony reveals Okonkwo has nothing to fear as his people will only judge him on his individual worth and not his fathers actions. Okonkwo never showed weakness or any emotion that was not anger. He had no patience for his ‘lazy’ son Nwoye and always ran his household with a tough and hard set of rules and a temper, which his family lived in fear of. “But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness…it (his fear) was not external but lay deep within himself…it was the fear of himself, lest he should be found to resemble his father”. This consuming fear of himself dominated his life, made him who he was and influenced his behaviour so much so it lead to regrettable mistakes.
Religion and spirituality create a sense of safety and stability in society as well as something to fear. “It (Umoufia) was feared by all it’s neighbours. It was powerful in war and in magic.” The fear of magic is strong and protects Umoufia from war, and well as defends it. Their religious beliefs gave them strength when it came to their enemies; no one wishes to wage war with a magic so powerful. This creates a fear driven law abidance. “She (The Priestess of Agbala) was full of the power of her God, and she was greatly...
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