Things Fall Apart Essay

Things Fall Apart Term paper

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Things Fall Apart Extended Essay Things Fall Apart is a novel that contradicts many of the white western stereotypical views of the native African people. The author Chinua Achebe wrote the novel to show that the African natives where not the savage, uneducated and primitive people that they had been portrayed as by the bias white man. There is know better example of this than the novel and movie Heart of Darkness , which portrays the natives as evil, ruthless and stupid and this could not be further from the truth, as Achebe s hole purpose for the novel, was to raise awareness to the ignorant white man. The native African people had one of the most complex and ridged social structures in the world at the time of colonisation. Through the white mans arrogance they where not able to see this or just simply did not want to anyway. Achebe uses characters like Okonkwo main character of the novel and tragic hero in his novel to illustrate the African people s values and attitudes towards change to the invading white culture. Achebe focuses on the native tribe of people called the Ibo, who live in Nigeria to get his views across to the reader. In this tribe there lives the books main character Okonkwo, a well-respected member of the tribe. Achebe uses Okonkwo to highlight the values and attitudes of the African people towards the colonisation by the white people. Interestingly, these views are through the eyes of the people being invaded instead of the invader. Th e way the author does this is by making you feel as though you are there right next to Okonkwo, feeling and seeing everything that happens too and around him. Okonkwo displayed great attribute as a man in his society, and these allowed him to maintain the high profile he had in the tribe. He was a great warrior, hard working, ambitious, good father, and strong willed, these where some of the qualities that had propelled him to become a respected elder in the tribe. But as with everyone he has his bad points and unfortunate to say, these where what caused his tragic down fall. Due to strong tribal culture, and complex society at the time, change was not seen very favourably by any of the elders and especially Okonkwo. An abominable religion has settled among you. A man can now leave his father and his bothers. He can curse the gods of his fathers ancestors, like a hunter s dog that suddenly goes mad and turns on his master. I fear for you ;I fear for the clan. (P147) The elders where believers in leaving things the way they where and this is evident by the resistance they all showed towards the colonisation. Achebe demonstrates how strongly the people believed in their culture and society, by using the accidental death of clans mans. When Okonkwo rifle accidentally discharges at the funeral of another clan s man, and kills the dead mans son, he does the only honourable thing and fled. Okonkwo s gun had exploded and a piece of iron had pieced the boy s heart. The only course open to Okonkwo was to flee from the clan. It was a crime against the earth goddess to kill a clansman, and a man who committed it must flee from the land. Okonkwo knew that it had been an accident, and still his beliefs in the societies values was so strong that he didn t hesitate in leaving the village along with his family, even though he knew he was going to loose everything he had worked for. All this was to appease the earth goddess, so she would not take any retribution on the village, himself or his family. Not everyone in the village however where happy with the Ibo way of life. Any of the people in the village who where lazy, deformed or simply just didn t meet the Ibo Values or attitudes where seen as outcasts. Achebe uses Okonkwo s own son Nwoye to demonstrate this. Okonkwo does not see Nwoye as the Ideal son, as he is not masculine enough. Okonkwo shows this when he said I have done my best to make Nwoye grow into a man, but there is to much of his mother in him (p58). Nwoye was not happy having to flee the village with his family and soon runs away and returns to the village where he makes a new way of life with the white colonists and other outcasts. Achebe is starting to demonstrate the changing attitudes in the tribe beginning with the outcasts and emotionally tormented. These people where the easiest of the natives for the white culture to impose upon, because of them being outcast from the Ibo society. The elders of all the villages where all concerned with changes that had already started to take place among some of their native people. But none of the elders where as furious as Okonkwo .A meeting was held and views exchanged by the elders and Okonkwo s furious nature was coming to the boil again with him wanting to kill all the white men in the village. But the elders had other ideas, which they thought best We should do something. But let us ostracise these men. We would not be held accountable for their abominations. (P140) This course of action started to show some change in the attitudes of the elders by showing compromise, which Okonkwo saw as signs of weakness, something he despised. Okonkwo went along with their decision, despite his own view. This still showing his strong belief in the Ibo values. It wasn t until one of the native converts unmasked one of the spirit gods did the tribe seek to take further action. This was when the elders burned down the church. All participant from the arson where arrested and sent jail after they where tricked into coming to a meeting to discuss the matter, Okonkwo being one of them. A short time Later all the elders and Okonkwo where all released, after their fine had been paid. The time in jail had only made Okonkwo s thirst for blood now unstoppable. Okonkwo only saw one way left to stem the rising white mans evil, If Umuofia decided on war, all would be well. But if they choose to be cowards he would go out and avenge himself. (P175) With this statement Achebe shows that even Okonkwo even starts to question his attitude and values of the Ibo society. Okonkwo beheads a court messenger at the town meeting for trying to stop it. Okonkwo committed suicide by hanging himself. He knew that people would not fight, and he was ashamed of what the Ibo society had become. He knew that Umuofia would not go to war. He knew because they had let the other messenger escape. They had broken into tumult instead of action. (P205) For Okonkwo, his world, which had been Umuofia, had crumbled hence Achebe s title Things Fall Apart . Okonkwo s world had slowly been falling apart due to his tree main faults of pride, inflexibility and impetuosity, well before the colonisation had begun. This is also how Achebe shows how, Nigerian people falling apart due to their rigid social structure and that it was only a matter of time before it collapsed. In the case of Umuofia, Achebe shows the colonisation was just the catalyst to speed the process up. Fear of the white man and his powers of destruction also played a large part in the demise of the Ibo culture, for it was something that was going to happen weather they wanted it or not. In all Things Fall Apart takes a look at the world through the eye s of a Native African, giving his views on colonisation, instead of the western views that we have all grown up with. Achebe shows that the only way to maintain any of your values & attitudes there must be room for compromise otherwise your downfall is imminent no matter how great you are.

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