Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart is an attempt in literary form to reinstate the dignity of the Igbo (and African) culture and people that had been become absent and restrained with the advent of colonisation of Nigeria by Europeans. Achebe demonstrates in the novel that, in a world where white colonists find the traditional customs and practices of the Igbo people as savage and primitive; the culture of this society is one of depth and dignity, where the traditions and practices of the people throughout their history demonstrates a solid and civilised structure in their own right. Analysing three episodes that occur in Things Fall Apart, this essay aims to discuss how Achebe tries to accomplish his aim of restoring dignity and self respect of the African people.
This also represents the importance of image to him and shows that he is self-conscious about himself. “‘We shall not do you any harm,’ said the District Commissioner..” (Achebe 194). This is quite ironic since the Europeans ended up abusing Okonkwo and his comrades and eventually destroying the Igbo culture. In this quote the author is implying that in the European's’ perspective, they are doing a good thing for the Igbo in the Umuofia by changing their beliefs, but in reality they are destroying their culture which the foundation and the identity of the Igbo.
Amadou Hampaté Bâ is extremely detailed throughout the book, The Fortunes of Wangrin, in explaining the colonial world in West African societies. He provides multiple examples in this work of fiction that precisely describe the factual aspects of African colonialism that we have discussed in class. I will point out a few of the examples that Bâ uses such as: limitations colonial governments set on Africans, the Métis relationships within colonies, and issues that arose, not only between Europeans and Africans, but within the native African communities as well. I will then point out certain details from the book that do not perfectly reflect the components of colonialism that we have studied in lecture.
In most fairy tales and novels a humble male role is used to dictate the normality of writing. In “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo, a strong male role is not only that, a lead character, but he is also cruel and prone to violent tendencies In the novel Okonkwo experiences harsh changes when the white men first came and at the beginning of colonialism. In “Things Fall Apart”, Achebe uses Okonkwo to display the negative change in everyday Igbo culture after colonialism. In this novel by Achebe, before colonialism was introduced, Okonkwo was a known masculine member of Umuofia.
Okonkwo constantly struggled to create the same masculine character in Nwoye that he made for himself and constantly found a reflection of his effeminate father, Unoka, in Nwoye. Chapter two describes the relationship between Okonkwo and Nwoye in Nwoye’s youth. “Okonkwo’s first son, Nwoye, was then twelve years old but was already causing his father great anxiety for his incipient laziness... He sought to correct him by constant nagging and beating” (13-14). Okonkwo’s efforts to change Nwoye’s resemblance of Unoka were causing their relationship to be pushed apart because of Okonkwo’s violence and Nwoye’s resistance.
Okonkwo’s values are restricted to physical strength, power, and prosperity, and when the Europeans suddenly arrive, the cultural convergence prompts Okonkwo to respond with even more violence. While the majority of his tribe, including his son Nwoye, is open to considering
Okonkwo dreads that Nwoye will blot the acclaim and honour he has worked so hard to achieve. Nwoye’s “incipient laziness” was causing Okonkwo great deal of distress and he sought to correct him by “constant nagging and beating” and as a result Nwoye was “turning into a sad-faced youth” (Pg. 13). Nwoye is aware that he should adopt the more masculine traits of his tribesmen, as desired by his father but he still prefers his mother’s company. Okonkwo
As Obierika explains, “The white man is very clever... he has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart” (176). Achebe’s in-depth story exhibits all aspects of Igbo culture and examines the way a culture can transform as the world progresses around it. Throughout the novel, readers sense the shift in the characters’ attitudes and beliefs towards once-vital traditions. The bold protagonist, Okonkwo, represents the culture, and as pressures to change appear from the outside world, he comes apart at the seams.
S. Naipaul and J. M. Coetzee these Post-colonial writers have all dealt with Africa in their own individual and unique ways. Achebe does not treat the African culture and ways of life as something hybrid, complex, dependant for its significance on the Western style of perceiving things or neither has he shown Africa to be existing only in relation to its difference from or consonance with the Western form of religion, culture, identity, and discourse. The major theme of the novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ centers around the destruction of Africa’s intricate, almost incomprehensible but unique way of life and culture in the wake of British colonization and forced or maneuvered conversion to Christianity. The administrative as well as religious changes that the British tries to impose upon the native Africans has the disastrous effects of uprooting the indigenous people from their original root and tradition and can be seen as some instruments of subjugation, subordination and subservience which starts with creating distrust, doubts and insecurity in the minds of people for their Igbo tradition, and its cultural and religious practices and ends with making them internalize the Christian way of life and British administrative apparatuses. Another theme that is explored in this novel is the inherent fault of the central character Okonkwo, who is ambitious, industrious, honest, masculine but is rash, and unthinking and his sense of self and identity is wholly dependent on the approval of others in his community and he thinks of anything that intrudes into it as a threat and he tries hard to be a man though in a flawed manner.
Have you ever read a novel about African cultures and traditions from African point of view? The novel Things Fall Apart, a tragedy by Chinua Achebe, centers on one tragic hero in Igbo village of Umuofia in Nigeria and the effects of European arrival on his life and Igbo clan. Throughout the novel, Achebe introduces Igbo customs to the reader by creating several occurrences and how they react on them to claim that the Igbo is civilized before the Europeans arrive. The significant difference between Igbo and Western cultures is the way wisdom is passed on: Igbo oral traditions transmit values and knowledge orally by allegorical tales, while Western literary traditions educate people through generations by written texts, just like the novel itself.
Fear is the core cause of the dramatic shift of lifestyle for both Okonkwo and Nwoye. Through the management of reputation and the avoidance of their father’s likeness, Okonkwo and Nwoye built new lives for themselves. Okonkwo sought power and authority to prove his masculinity and make up for Unoka’s reputation as a weak man. He did this to the point where manliness became his character. Fearlessness and violence were masculine qualities that in Igbo culture signifies strength and influence.
This affects and can also be seen as a reflection of Okonkwo’s other relationships between male characters, namely Unoka, Nwoye, and Ikemefuna. This essay will discuss how Achebe portrays masculinity in Things Fall Apart (Achebe, 1958), how the hyper-masculinized character, Okonkwo, receives and interacts with certain characters. I will also discuss how Okonkwo’s ridged patriarchal ideals of virility are counterintuitive with his actions and intentions of ensuring a masculine household. Okonkwo is a titled and successful warrior in his village, Umuofia. A great amount of respect is received by Okonkwo because his youth did not promise such a prosperous life, he had to work hard for his wealth and success.
Although some people may argue that colonialism positively affects Ibo society as the white men allow Ibo people to unite against one cause, as in the text it says, “We must root out this evil. And if our brothers take the side of evil we must root them out too. And we must do it now. We must bale this water now that it is only ankle-deep” (204). Although this claim may be true in some respects it is not entirely true as Ibo people seem to unite against one cause, but they do not actually take action.