Ambiguity In Things Fall Apart

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In Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe introduces the importance of African culture, specifically in the village of Umofia. This serves as a guide for the reader to get a better insight as to why things happen the way they do in many parts of the book. After Okonkwo, the main character accidentally kills a young boy with a loaded gun, one of his close friends, Obierika, reflects on the tragedy. In this passage, Okonkwo is sentenced to seven years in exile by the wise elders and Obierika, a respected and reasonable man, is at a loss of spoken words. By looking at the continuous rhetorical questioning in passage 2, we see that Obierika heavily examines aspects of the Igbo culture such as rituals, values, and expectations. This is important because the internal conflict between morality and compassion versus rationality leads to disparate interpretations of universal truths in each village.

Chinua Achebe gradually introduces the use of ambiguity throughout the book, to let the reader generate his or her own interpretation. When the author writes, “Obierika was a man who
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After Obierika is done reflecting the author writes, “As the elders said, if one finger brought oil, it soiled the others.” By ending the passage with a proverb, we get a quick glimpse into what will happen in the upcoming chapters. In this case, the one finger bringing oil is Okonkwo. Because accidentally killed the boy and was sentenced to seven years of exile, he is bringing bad to the village. Here the author foreshadows Umofia going in a downward spiral, hence the title, “Things Fall Apart. Throughout this passage the author plays with foreshadowing and vague questioning to add to the mystery of Umofia and Igbo culture. Everything is stated indirectly; the author doesn’t say that Umofia will fall apart, instead he chooses to close off with a clever
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