Things Fall Apart: A Study Assignment Help
Write an essay that involves a supported analysis of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.
The Man Booker International Prize winner, Chinua Achebe was born in the year 1930 as Albert Chin?al?m?g? Achebe. Things Fall Apart was the first novel written by the African poet, critic professor and novelist who was born in Ogidi in British Nigeria. Ogidi is located in Anambra State in Nigeria in the Local Government Area Idemili North. It is an Igbo town that has been under the rule of the missionaries for 40 years already when Achebe was born in 1930. The events of his novel Things Fall Apart unfolds somewhere in the 1890s in a pre-colonized and fictitious Nigerian village Iguedo in the clan of Umuofia. The story moves forward and takes a shift with the European colonizers arriving in the town and how there comes a shift in the cultural and traditional paradigm after the event.
Writing in the year 1958, Achebe can provide a proper retrospect of the Nigerian society of 1890 and of the British colonialism (Ochiagha, 2018). He uses the first stanza of the poem The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats as the epigraph to his novel to describe the reign of chaos when the system of society fails or collapses.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. (Chinua, 1958)
With the help of these lines, the writer introduces us to the Igbo society of Umuofia that is about the collapse in the face of bureaucracies and British imperialists. According to Ayaz & Anjum (2017), the novel has been describes as one that truthfully tells the story of the African tribes and the Igbo people of Nigeria, who although had a proper society, culture, traditions, decision making bodies, titular leaders and religion, failed to withstand their cultural integrity as the white colonizers invaded them because of the absence of a proper king or ruler (Ayaz & Anjum, 2017).
The story focuses on the life of Okonkwo, who is the protagonist and in some way the antagonist as well. He is masculinity personified and detests anything that will make him look soft or emotional. His idea of a man has been derived from the notions and the ideologies that the elders of his tribe go by regarding an ideal man (Chinua, 1958). Therefore, to assert his image as an ideal man who is strong and hard working without any sign of weakness, he beats up his three wives and ten children. He even takes part in the sacrifice of his adopted son Ikemefuna whom he loves more than his own son Nwoye, despite the repeated warnings and advice of one of the village elders, Ezeudu. Okonkwo detests his father Unoka who is lazy and poor. He neglects his family and dies with debts to be paid. Unoka has been shown as the contracting character to Okonkwo as he loves music and language and even plays the flute. The tribe does not respect him as he is not masculine according to their standards (Chinua, 1958). Okonkwo considers him to be a failure as an unsuccessful man and tries hard to be completely different from him. He manages to earn both money and respect as a wrestler, things his father failed to do, however, at the end he losses all his respect that he holds precious by committing suicide, which is a crime and an act of cowardice for the Igbo people.
As stated by Allen (2018), the Igbo people believe in a religion that asks for human sacrifices, sends people into exile for unfair reasons and believes in the reincarnation of a demonic spirit as an ogbanje child with an evil twin in the ogbanje world in a repeated cycle. The elders of the village believe Ezinma to be such a child and prepare her for an elaborate ritual of locating her iyi-uwa that will force her to lose her die with the demonic spirit in the ogbanje world (Upadhyaya, 2017). They believe that locating and destroying the stone will stop the reincarnation of the evil spirit and Ekwefi relies on the ritual as she does not want to lose her only beloved daughter. However, both Ekwefi and Okonkwo come to question the notion when Ezinma falls terribly ill and reaches the verge of dying. The strong beliefs and religious notions that the Igbo people uphold are a result of the egwugwu who are the gods of the Umuofia tribe. They are considered as ancestral spirits who take important decision for the community and gives justice against crimes. Achebe signifies as the symbol of both independence and of the culture of the tribe but in reality, they are only the elders of the tribes in masks posing as gods and passing judgments upon people (Upadhyaya, 2017). Obierika comes to question the culture and the religious beliefs based on the killing of an innocent child and the practice of sending people into exiles and turning them into osu based on the unfair judgment of accidental death.
It is a complex novel, which successfully brings the competition cultures of the British people and of the Igbo people as well as their language at equal levels with the help of dialogue and representation. While it has people questioning the Igbo way of living like Obierika, it also demonstrates a kind and compassionate white man called Mr. Brown. The novel discusses the socio-political aspects of the Igbo society and how friction arises in society as the tribe confronts the Western beliefs and the government of the West, which is overpowering and intrusive. The novel shows the effect of the colonizers on the tribe and how their ways affect the religious beliefs as well as the way of life of the Igbo people. Okonkwo returns from his exile to see that the British have infiltrated their land and his son Nwoye becomes one of the very first people to convert into Christianity, which Okonkwo deems as a great betrayal. Slowly he realizes that his fight against the white people that asks for violence and killing is his own fight as no one else from the tribe is willing to take part in it. They have started questioning their own beliefs and the presence of a new religion at that point of time allures them towards it as is stated by Upadhyaya (2017), in his article.
The Umuofia considers them as part of the natural world and lives in fear of it. Their economic stability relies solely on the earth along with its predictable seasonal cycles. They worship nature as well as her bounty and the Igbo are known for the celebration of the harvest season along with their production of yam, which is a very important crop for them (Allen, 2018). Their economy stands on the palm-wine from tree tapping and palm-oil, earning capital from locust plagues and from the medicines made from herbs. The intrusion of the white man brings doubts in their minds and the society starts to fall apart based on the modern beliefs that the colonizers incorporate within the society. The novel is set in the 19th century and Okonkwo's life runs between the pre- as well as the post-European era of imperialism. He was exiled to Mbanta by the trial court and as he returns to his village he observes that the Igbo people have failed to throw away the white colonizers and have joined then instead (Gosling, 2017). Religion and government for the white people go hand in hand as it does for the Igbo people mostly too. Therefore, the people who have converted support the colonizers who Okonkwo identifies as shrewd people. They have come in peace but have infiltrated their lands and have benevolent interests only. Achebe also discusses the nature of the white or colonized court as Obierika tells Okonkwo about a man in Umuofia named Aneto, who was hanged by the white court for killing a man over a land dispute (Gosling, 2017). The court rulings are somehow quite different as Okonkwo is only exiled for committing murder whereas Aneto is hanged. As stated by Gosling (2017), the Igbo elders sorted out disputes and complaints in an open forum and in a fair way dressed as gods but the white people act as gods over men by doing as they please. They rule the judgment in favor of the highest bidder and often ambushes men from the clan who wants to have justice or a simple discussion (Gosling, 2017).
The role that the messengers' play is significant as well in the novel as they have managed to bring swift changes in the plotline. As Okonkwo beheads the white messenger who comes in to stop the war meeting, Okonkwo realizes that his own men will no more stand by his side to throw the white people out of their land and he realizes that instead of destroying the church, the church has managed to weaken their kinship (Gilley, 2016). Once the politics of the land was focused on the improvement of the tribe, but now the white people have changed the way of life and the people work for their benefit.
Logical arguments corresponding with the study
As stated by Shouq & Zubair (2015), the concept of gender is very prominent in the novel by Achebe. The Igbo people are very clear about what aspects of a person can be considered as masculine and what makes a person soft and feminine. Based on these ideals Okonkwo kills his beloved adopted son Ikemefuna to show that he has no compassion or emotion, which according to him and his tribesmen is a feature that shows weakness and feminine qualities (Shouq & Zubair, 2015). Compassion, love, and emotion are considered feminine qualities that are not appreciated in a man. Therefore, Okonkwo tries hard to hide his love for his daughter Ezinma as well. He is not fond of his own son Nwoye as he like Okonkwo's father does not possess traditional masculinity. While Unoka loved music and language and played the flute, Nwoye detests violence and loves to listen to the stories his mother tells him (Shouq & Zubair, 2015). The rigid masculinity of his father and his false ideas of gender takes them apart and Nwoye turned into a Christian and adopted the name Isaac, which was an act of betrayal for Okonkwo.
Ezinma, on the other hand, is not very feminine in her characteristics as she decides not to get married as long as her father is in exile and prepares to support him through his difficult times (Rather, 2018). Ekwefi too is less fearful of her husband who beats her up repeatedly as he is a man and a man needs to control his wife. However, she talks back to her husband that no one else dares and knocks on his obi as well.
The novel depicts the ethnocentrism and the prejudice of one civilization against another but it does not clearly highlight the literature or the aspects of performing or visual art that is an integral part of the people other than the aspect of Unoka playing the flute, which is considered feminine. The novel somehow fails to focus on the female population of the Igbo tribe who are as much a part of the culture and are tortured and treated unfairly by several men of the tribe (Ochiagha, 2018). Their stories are left untold or unfinished by Achebe, which is probably the only aspect that has not been worked upon in details.
Achebe's novel is considered to be an answer to the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad whom Achebe calls "a thoroughgoing racist" and criticizes his work some more in his 1975 lecture An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". Amidst great controversies regarding such blatant accusations and his choice of the language for writing a novel on the African culture, Achebe defends his use of the English language in his novels by stating that using the language of the colonizers he wants to tell the story of his own people who are not primitive or savage as the imperialists would believe them to be in their literature.
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