The Sacred in Things Fall Apart and No Longer at Ease

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Chinua Achebe's works reveal the sustaining relevance of "the sacred" to his audience and invite his readers to consider the metamorphosis of sacred tropes from traditional to colonial times. The mask in Achebe's novels Things Fall Apart and No Longer At Ease is one of a number of tropes which represent the shifting of the locus of "the sacred" from community to individual. This trope, and others like it, reflects upon the way in which European influence has directed the social significance of spirituality through the process of colonization. Through the examination of these tropes, one should develop a critical awareness of the relationship between the sacred and the profane in the Modern context of No Longer At Ease,…show more content…
The sacred is saturated with being. Sacred power means reality and at the same time enduringness and efficacity. The polarity sacred-profane is often expressed as an opposition between real and unreal or pseudoreal...thus it is easy to understand that religious man deeply desires to be, to participate in reality, to be saturated with power (12-13).

Considering Eliade's assertion that "the sacred" is a vehicle for power in "pre-modern" societies, much irony is present in the fact that Modern European man, while distancing himself from the "primitive" definitions of a traditional, all-encompassing spirituality, is deeply waged in the battle for the power that can be extracted from the sole possession and revised definition of "the sacred." In the novel No Longer At Ease, one begins to see the serious implications of displaced ownership and ambiguous definition of sacred objects and rites.

Masking as Achebe portrayed in Things Fall Apart supported traditional perceptions of the relationship between society and the sacred; therefore, the implementation of masking as obscured by colonialism presented a unique opportunity for Europeans to reconfigure established perceptions of reality. In traditional Igbo society, it was the role of the artist to affirm a sense of "the sacred" within the community. Specifically,

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