In the novel Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe portrays a character, Okonkwo, as a strong and admired leader. Life is great in Umoufia, Nigeria. Until Okonkwo gets exiled from his village for seven years. During that time the European missionaries came and built a church in the Evil forest of Umoufia. This made Okonkwo anxious to come back to his village and restore the Ibo culture but, it was more of a challenge than he thought.
Throughout the novel Okonkwo is a great leader but, he, himself, is challenged by the cultural collision because before the missionaries came in he is the “top dog” of the Ibo people, he is respected and feared and “he had won fame as the greatest wrestler in the nine villages. ”(Achebe, 8). However now that the Western people are in-charge, “They had built a court where the District Commissioner judged cases in ignorance” (Achebe, 174). Okonkwo has lost all that because the Western people take away the fighting games the Ibo people had.
And in the end when he needs his people to help him go against the Westerners, the do not do anything but let him go mad and kill the messenger. Through that Okonkwo is shown to lose the respect he once had over everyone. At this point he has no identity after everything he does to get the Western people to leave his culture alone and go back to their own culture. Achebe uses this to show that when change comes you can either except it and still be admired for your choice or reject the change and risk the chance of losing all that you have.
Many people do not except change and in this novel, Chinua Achebe shows Okonkwo as a perfect example of that. Okonkwo does many things to show his disapproval of the Western people taking over his home place; such as, burning down the church and killing the messenger. Okonkwo tries to explain to his people that “He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart” (Achebe, 176). This metaphor is used to show how the life of Umoufia has changed immensely and to show how easy it was for the strings to be cut and retied but the Westerners.
Okonkwo insists on sticking to the Ibo way of life but a man can only be pushed so far before he reaches his breaking point. Achebe shows Okonkwo’s breaking point when his people do not to support him after he kills the messenger in rage. “Then they came to the tree from which Okonkwo’s body was dangling… ” (Achebe, 208). In the end, his response to the collision of the Western people was suicide. He thought that ending his life would be easier than living through this outrageous cultural conflict any longer. In Things Fall Apart, things do just that.
Chinua Achebe portrays Okonkwo as a very admired and famous leader. When there is a cultural collision with some Western people, his identity is lost because of the respect that is lost from his people. By this time “The Africa of the empires is dying… And Europe too where we are joined by the naval” (Senghor, 182). He then handles this collision with violence and when he has had all he can take, he commits suicide. Achebe has many valuable insights throughout the novel but the one that stands out the most is that even the strongest men have their “breaking points”.
In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, the Ibo culture is depicted as a civilized society although it is quite the contrary. The Ibo tribe is first portrayed as a civilized society to those who live amongst it with good morals, a safe environment along with its leaders, and a stable religion. Throughout the novel,it is clear that the Ibo people are not a civilized society. In Things Fall Apart, Nwoye is an important male role who disagrees with his culture and whether or not his cultural traditions are moral. This is evident in Nwoye when Chinua Achebe states,”Nwoye had felt for the first time a snapping inside him… when they heard an infant crying in the thick forest.” (Achebe,61) This is an example of a conflict dealing with morals because Nwoye is said to have this horrid feeling as they are passing by the thick forest, and they hear an infant’s cry he feels bad about the situation because that baby was put there for being a twin and it was tradition to throw twins in the Evil Forest.
Nwoye realizes that this is not morally correct and is inhumane just like it wouldn’t be correct to follow through with this tradition now a days in any culture. Foofo, Fafa, a columnist of GhanaWeb states in her column on the book, Things Fall Apart,“He could have censored all the gory details if he chose to ….the throwing of twins into the evil forest etc. All of these fly in the face of our general human values today,” meaning that such a tradition now a days would be immoral and wrong and the author gave us such details and made them important so they he could portray a better picture about what kind of society the Ibo are, an uncivilized society. The Ibo society’s practices such as having more than one wife, the male being the leader of the house, and the family violence seen in the novel provide another reason as to why the Ibo society is uncivilized.
For example, in the novel it says,”She was Okonkwo’s second wife, Ekwefi,whom he 1 nearly shot,”( Achebe, 39) when speaking of the time Okonkwo almost shoots his second wife for a small misunderstanding, this quote shows both the practices of having more than one wife and family violence, which are both corrupt practices. This information being provided to the readers by the author helps better understand how the Ibo society is and whether or not it is civilized. ”Like polygamy and patriarchy and the violence it sometimes engenders against women,” states Foofo, Fafa, when explaining how the Ibo society practices and actions shown in the novel would go against social norms today and are not very civilized practices and actions to begin with. The tragic death of Ikemefuna, being killed by his fatherly figure,the novel’s protagonist, and tragic hero is another major reason as to why the Ibo are not civilized.
“My father they have killed me,”Ikemefuna said as he ran towards Okonkwo,”who drew his machete and cut him down. ”(Achebe, 61). These two quotes are used to explain how Ikemefuna dies and also to show the darker side of Okonkwo and how far he would go to be seen as not weak, they whole event in the novel can be used as an example to show how the Ibo are uncivilized because first, Ikemefuna was killed because Anni, the goddess, said he must be killed and second because it is is murder and murder is morally wrong.
”The killing of Ikemefuna who had become a part of Okonkwo’s family,” writes Foofo, Fafa when explaining that the murder of Ikemefuna by his so called father was provided by the author to understand the novel, and most of all culture and society of the Ibo, and how they are coarse and uncivilized in many ways. The Ibo society is uncivilized despite the fact that it is first shown as a civilized society. Whether or not the Ibo society was civilized is important because it shows how times have changed, this novel having been written in the 1950’s and even though the culture may be different, many practices, actions, and beliefs shown in the novel affected many and are still being put to practice now a days in different.