Things Fall Apart: A Critical Analysis
Things Fall Apart (1958) is a fictional novel by Chinua Achebe that examines the life the Igbo tribe living in a rural village called Umuofia in Nigeria during the early 19th century. The central values of the novel revolve around status, virtues, power, and traditions that often determine the futures and present of the characters in the Achebe story. The novel shows the life of the protagonist Okonkwo and his family, village, and Igbo culture and the affects of colonisation of Umuofia on him and the people of his village by Christian missionaries. In this essay, I plan to look at colonialism in the novel before and after and the impact on Okonkwo and the village Umuofia and examine how colonization transformed their tribe’s culture, tradition, and religion. As well, I plan to compare and contrast Achebe’s novel it to Allen Issacman’s “Resistance and Collaboration in Southern and Central Africa 1850-1920” reading which shows the scramble for Africa to further illustrate the affects of colonialism in Africa from two different perspectives to better understand conflict in Africa. Therefore, my argument for this essay is when two cultures intertwine together the imposing culture that is more powerful will alter or destroy aspects of the weaker culture’s way of life with negative consequences. In Things Fall Apart (1958) the main protagonist of the story is Okonkwo who is a wealthy farmer, with three wives and many children. Despite his highly feared and respected exterior, Okonkwo is man obsessed with an overwhelming fear of failure and weakness caused by his own father’s shameful life and suicide death. This motivates him to become the most powerful and respected man in his village by his skills as a strong warrior and rich farmer, and makes him a prominent member of his community. As the people of Umuofia honour his extraordinary achievements and reward him with many distinguished titles. To Okonkwo, his beliefs often dominate his household and his decisions and actions and his importance of keeping up an image in order to please others and himself, that alienated his from his family and children.Another important factor is the Igbo’s culture and tradition. In the novel, the clan practices tribal traditions which involve the worship of gods, sacrifice, communal living, and magic. In the Igbo culture, leadership is based on a man’s values and his contribution to the good of the tribe like Okonkwo demonstrates in the novel.In the novel Okonkwo stands out as a great leader of the tribe for his many achievements. However, after part two in the novel when Okonkwo accidentally killed his friend Ezeudenu son he is banished from his village Umuofia for seven years, he and his family move to Okonkwo’s mother’s tribe Mbanta. After settling in Mbanata, is when the missionaries known as the “white men” began to arrive in Nigeria at the height of colonialism attempts to convert most of the villages to Christianity. With their religion, the missionaries brought their weapons, government, and their culture and traditions that ultimately replaced Igbo’s culture that was seen as “inferior” which often occurs in colonialism. This made Okonkwo to resent the missionaries for expanding their beliefs and religion onto their villages and cultures. This example shows the negative impacts of colonialism on the Okonkwo, from his perspective the “white men” being to tear the things apart that held him and his tribe’s belief by imposing their culture upon them. The result has a direct effect on Okonkwo personal life, when his son Nwoye becomes a convert and run’s away to become a member of the church and when Okonkwo returns to Umuofia and to his shock sees his village transformed and governed by the white men through and the culture and customs of the land have been abandoned and the numbers of converts were increasing daily. Missionaries were the superior to the Igbo people dominating their village...
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