John F. Kennedy once said, “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction”. Former president Kennedy proclaims his view on the value and importance of taking action over remaining inactive. Although he is respected and followed by society, others do not all share this same value. In Chinua Achebe’s
The novel, Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe centers around a man named Okonkwo, and it explores Igbo culture through two tribes that Okonkwo is a part of, the Umuofia and the Mbanta. The novel demonstrates a number of core aspects of the Igbo culture which include religion, tradition, discipline, and unity. After exploring these aspects of Igbo culture, the novel shows how they are affected and changed by European colonialism. Achebe specifically uses interactions between Okonkwo, his tribes, and European missionaries to portray what happened to Igbo culture once European colonialism was introduced.
Okonkwo wrestles with his fear that any sign of weakness will cause him to lose control of his family, position in the village, and even himself. Like many heroes of classical tragedy, Okonkwo’s tragic flaw, fear, also makes him excessively proud. Okonkwo’s downfall is a result of the changes created by the coming of the British Colonisers to Igbo. The introduction of the Colonisers into the novel causes Okonkwo’s tragic flaw to be exacerbated. Okonkwo construes change as weakness, and as a result of his interpretation, Okonkwo only knows how to react to change through anger and strength. He derives great satisfaction, “hubris” or proud arrogance, from the fact that he is a traditional, self made man and thinks that to change would mean submitting to an outside force (Christianity).
Preconceived ideas about one’s culture often arises from stereotypes passed down from generation to generation. It is those stereotypes which shape one’s way of thinking, without being educated properly. In the novel Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, misunderstood culture is what drives the story of a small African clan called the Umuofia and the life story of Okonkwo, a fearless warrior and farmer. An in-depth look into pre-colonial African culture helps the reader discover and understand an unbiased point of view of a world one may not understand. In doing so, Achebe uses imagery as well as strong narration to describe the cultural norms and activities that the Nigerian tribe undergoes in everyday life. Through this he offers a nonbiased point of view, and communicates and accurate picture of pre-colonial African culture to a western reader.
Chinua Achebe’s novel “Things Fall Apart” chronicles the life of Okonkwo, a strong man whose existence is dominated by fear and anger, and the Ibo tribe, a people deeply rooted in cultural belief and tradition. As events unfold, Okonkwo’s carefully constructed world and the Ibo way of life collapses. The story of Okonkwo’s fall from a respected and feared leader of the Ibo tribe to an outcast who dies in disgrace dramatizes his inability to evolve beyond his personal beliefs, affecting the entire Ibo tribe beyond measure. The “things” that fall apart in Achebe’s novel are Okonkwo’s life – his ambition, dreams, family unity and material wealth – and the Ibo way of life – their beliefs, culture and values.
The novel, Things Fall Apart, takes place in a Lower Nigerian village of Iguedo and Mbanta and is centered around a man by the name of Okonkwo. Okonkwo, the protagonist, is introduced as the most renowned warrior of all tribes who brought great honor to his tribe by becoming the top wrestler of the villages. Throughout the book, Chinua Achebe expresses Okonkwo as a man whose obsession with power is what ultimately leads him to failing in attempts to obtain that power through his role as a farmer, the actions towards his family, and his actions towards the new civilization of the village. When introducing the protagonist, Achebe makes Okonkwo’s thirst for power and status very apparent not just through his
Gender roles played a crucial part to the understanding of the people of Umuofia; especially to Okonkwo. But just as in today’s world, one person of a group cannot define the entire group, it was the same back then, which further proves how the District Commissioner’s view of Umuofia would not represent the entire clan, let alone Africa as a whole. Okonkwo’s motivation behind his views of patriarchy stem from his father Unoka; he wanted to be such a great man of the tribe, unlike his “agbala” of a father. Okonkwo’s son “[n]woye knew that it was right to be masculine and to be violent, but somehow he still preferred the stories that his mother used to tell, and which she no doubt still told to her younger children…but he now knew that they were for foolish women
Obierika and his family are celebrating for his daughter’s Uri, a day that was celebrated after the bride-price suitor paid off his bride-price. “When the women retired, Obierika presented kola nuts to his in-laws. His eldest brother broke the first one. “Life to all of our,” he said as he broke it. “And let there be friendship between your family and ours” (Achebe 117.) The ceremony itself represents an important celebration for the fathers who give their daughter’s away and gain respectable family of their status out it. The kola nut serves as symbol reflecting how Igbo welcome guest into their home and it is a powerful symbol of a mutual respect and community. Africans, Igbo community in particular show great signs of respect and grace and to one another and strangers. In this, Achebe uses Obierika ceremony for his daughter to display the positive characteristics of the Igbo community. They have the belief in giving their daughter’s away just in a different way but not so different. In other cultures father’s give their
Upon an initial reading of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, it is easy to blame the demise of Okonkwo’s life and of the Umofia community on the imperialistic invasions of the white men. After all, Okonkwo seemed to be enjoying relative peace and happiness before then. He did have a few mishaps; one of them resulted in him being exiled for eight years. Nonetheless, he returned to his home town with high spirits and with prospects of increased success. However, everything has changed. The white men have brought with them a new religion and a new government. Okonkwo’s family falls apart. The men in his village lose their courage and valor; they do not offer any resistance to the white men. Consequently, Okonkwo kills
The novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a commanding account about the rise and fall of an African tribe. The powerful narrative depicts the life and customs of the people and how they change through the years. Theere are many different ideas and characters that are preseneted throughout the novel. The depiction of women is one aspect that is of extreme relevance. It can be shown through several passages in the novel that the women are actually the unseen power behind the mighty Umofian tribe.
Okonkwo is initially introduced as a proud, hardworking, successful warrior. He is described as "clearly cut out for great things" (6). But he is the son of a ne'er-do-well father; though genial and inoffensive, Unoka must certainly have been considered a failure. He is lazy and does not provide for his family. Not only is this disgraceful, but life-threatening as well. He is dependent on other members of the clan and must have been considered unsuccessful. Okonkwo chafes under such disgrace and his success is a consequence of his desire to be everything his father is not; society's vision of an exemplar citizen. The fact that Okonkwo is able to rise above his poverty and disgraceful paternity illustrates the Igbo's acceptance of individual free will. But Okonkwo's fate and his disharmony with his chi, family and clan are shown to cause his ultimate disgrace and death.
Figurative language is used to comprehend Okonkwo’s success and respect in the clan which drives him to become prosperous from fear of failure but also makes him bad-tempered towards others. He becomes a fearless warrior and a popular wealthy man so that his clan won’t think of him as anything less and it earns him respect: “Okonkwo’s fame had grown like a bush fire in the harmattan” (3). Popularity helps Okonkwo achieve dignity and separates him from his past that is always haunting him. This fear of being an underachiever motivates him to be strong and wealthy but also leaves him with little to
A sense of foreboding envelops us from the first. We sense all will not end well for Umuofia. The chill of fear grips us as the world of Okonkwo and his clan truly falls apart. Okonkwo will need all of his power to fight the forces against his world, but tragically he is crippled by the most destructive malady of all, fear of himself. Achebe employs the form of classical Greek tragedy to tell his African tale of the rise and fall of Okonkwo.
The novel, things fall apart was set in the late nineteenth century which was a period of conflict and drastic change in Africa, where indigenous societies clashed with imperialistic European powers. The author, Chinua Achebe adds this tension of the historic British colonial expansion to present another dimension to Okonkwo's tragedy. Achebe challenges ethnocentric views of Africa through his use of language throughout the novel. The author also includes themes of Cultural relativism by introducing the Ibo’s traditions and language.
Chinua Achebe’s most well-known novel Things Fall Apart was defined by many as a modern piece of African literature that was truly African. It became a major contribution to literature around the world. The novel revolves around an Ibo village in Nigeria. The inclusion of African culture, such as the language, stories, and way of life, create depth and dimension and are essential to the telling of the Ibo story by Achebe.