Things Fall Apart (Turtle Story Analysis)

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Storytelling is a significant part of every cultural. Since the dawn of time human beings have passed down stories from generation to generation. Stories have many different purposes; perhaps the most notable is to preserve ethics and cultural traditions. In Chinua Achebe novel, Things Fall Apart, we observe the telling of many stories; most remarkable is the story of the Tortuous and the Birds. At its baseline, the story is purely entertainment. It is a way to past time during a long dark night. More importantly, it serves to teach the children a lesson in morals, and finally it could be argued that the story serves to foreshadow the plot of the novel.

Entertainment was very limited during the times of the Igbo people they had no means of watching television or even reading a novel simple luxuries that we take for granted today. Oral communication was one of the only means for people to communicate. Naturally this became one of the main forms of entertainment.

The underlying moral of the story is not to take advantage of people, to be fair and courteous. Upon looking closer we observe that the story deals with aspects of a clan (the birds) and a leader (the tortuous). The tortuous is initially admired by the birds, he possess highly desirable skills of communication and is looked up to by the clan (birds). When the tortuous does something that angers the clan, eats all the food, he is cast out of the clan by the removed of his feathers. Because he is unable to fly home, he is forced to jump from the clouds. This symbolizes his fall from power as the leader of the birds. The tortuous’ shell is forever damaged, branding him with the mark of the tribe.

The plot of the novel and Okonkwo’s life mirror the story of the Tortuous and the Birds. Okonkwo is a man of great power and highly admired amongst his clans people. Okonkwo angers his people by killing the leader of another tribe. As a result, Okonkwo hangs himself and forever brands his family...
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