Things Fall Apart: Individuality vs. Nationality

Decent Essays
Of the many themes that appear in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, individuality versus nationality becomes a central topic as the story progresses and develops. With the invasion and colonization of the European missionaries, Okonkwo’s nationality and contributions to society are called into question. Achebe explains the idea of nationality over individuality by showing that society is the precursor to individuality. Examining the life of the protagonist, Okonkwo, before and after his resistance exemplifies this key idea in Things Fall Apart. Without society, there would be no individuality. Okonkwo’s characteristics include praise and reputation, which his tribe gives him for throwing the Cat. Achebe explains Okonkwo’s reputation,…show more content…
Okonkwo’s family was under his control, as the culture expected of him, which allowed him to have less conflicts and issues in his life. At this time, his own customs carried more importance than his own personal needs which resulted in a better life for him. He was able to be a part of society and have unity. However, once he steps away from this life, his life falls apart. When looking at his life before this resistance, it is clear to see that life was better when he was a part of the culture and when he conformed to the expectations of society. However, when Okonkwo retaliate back against society, there are dire consequences. In his first act of defiance, Okonkwo strikes down his adopted son, Ikemefuna, killing him. Even though the elders instruct him not to do so, or even partake in the killing, Okonkwo meets the consequences of his action with extreme guilt and depression. While this lasts for weeks, Okonkwo’s next act of defiance causes much more severe consequences. He is sent into exile, turning him into what the opposite of what he wished to become, a disgrace like Unoka. His goals of not being his father goes to ruins as he further caters for his personal needs. However, even when returning back to the society from which he was exiled, his personal emotions still get in the way. When angered at “the white man’s power”, Okonkwo “drew his machete…Okonkwo’s machete descended
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