What Do You Think Are the Main Themes in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe?

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The main themes in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe are the language – which is a sign of cultural differences - and the conflict between the Ibo people’s culture, traditions, what they are used to and the changes that are taking place.

Through language, Achebe illustrates that Africa is not as backward and uninteresting as many Colonial writers presented it. He shows us the originality and formality of the language of the Ibo. By the addition of translations of proverbs, stories and songs from the Ibo language, he shows us how intricate it is to translate directly into English. A good example of this - and also an illustration of how many different dialects and languages there are in Africa – is when the missionaries come to Mbanta “He spoke through an interpreter who was an Ibo man, though his dialect was different and harsh to the ears of Mbanta. Many people laughed at his dialect and the way he used words strangely. “(p. 102). One could compare this to the same way in which people from Jutland make fun of people from Zealand’s accents and vice versa. Moreover the Igbo culture cannot be completely understood by the colonists with their own standards and ethics. The fact that Achebe chose to write the book in English and not in his native language is also of significance. It clearly shows that he intended the book to be read by the West as well as his fellow Africans. His intention with this was once again to elevate and change the West’s view of Africa.

The story is about a culture on the brink of drastic change and how the prospect and actuality of this change affects the various characters, for better or for worse. For Okonkwo, who highly values the old traditions and is not very accepting of the new, change is abominable. He feels that if he accepted, he may lose his societal status and slowly the changes would start to ruin his plans for achievement and grandeur e.g. He had been making plans throughout his whole stay in Mbanta for his triumphant...
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