Imperialism In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

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Things Fall Apart: The Title that also is a Theme

The book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a book detailing the rise of British imperialism and fall of traditional African culture in Nigeria around the turn of the 19th century. The book also relates to the poem The Second Coming written by W.B Yeats depicting the fall of global civilization prior to the second coming of Christ. In this case, the book depicts the fall of traditional African culture prior to the coming of imperialism and Western Civilization. The title of the book Things Fall Apart alludes to the theme of Imperialism and like in the poem relates to key events by depicting the fall of Igbo Civilization, the Banishment of Okonkwo and Okonkwo’s cowardly suicide.
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Towards the end of the book, Okonkwo was stunned that everything he knew and loved throughout his life was disappearing and his own people took no retaliatory actions at all. In fact, he and his friends attempted to overthrow the District Commissioner, but failed and were arrested but later released. At that point, war was on the horizon and lots was at risk. They already had the Massacre at Abame still floating in their minds, the law of the English already took its toll on the people and there was the risk of losing everything if they went to war. In the last minute, Okonkwo beheaded a British messenger who ordered the meeting held in Umuofia to be stopped. “Okonkwo stood looking at the dead man. He knew that Umuofia would not go to war. He knew because they had let the other messengers escape” (205). At this point Okonkwo was done dealing with the Brits and lost all hope in saving his tribe or restoring order to the land. He killed himself as an act of cowardice and as a result of his personal actions. He believed that since they let other messengers escape that they would report to the District Commissioner and thus possibly put his own people in danger of ending up like the people in Abame. All conviction had left him and the British were the ones passionate and full of intensity of keeping order in the Igbo lands of Nigeria. Thus, the act of imperialism was done and the result was a civilization and people changed forever.

The title of the book Things fall apart alluded to the theme of imperialism and related to the key events of the fall of Igbo Civilization, Okonkwo’s banishment and his cowardly suicide. Like in the poem The Second Coming when all civilization collapsed prior to the second coming of Christ, all of Igbo civilization collapsed when the British missionaries

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