Things Fall Apart by Chinua Acheb

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In the novel, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Acheb, it told a story of how one’s world can change in a minute. One may even question, how they would react if they were in the same situation. Similarly, people have gone through changes but this novel is told through a man who has a hard time dealing with the changes throughout the novel, because of his constant battles with his own father which caused him to believe in what is wrong, even if he is aware of the right way. However, one of the main characters is Okwonko who was greatly known for his brave and fearless behaviour he had.

Therefore, he was determined to gain success in spite of his father’s failures, that causes him to be insensitive. One of the many men who were loyal to their tribe and the old ways of their ancestors, but soon took a turn for the worst. Okwonko and his tribe, Umuofia struggled throughout the novel because of the Europeans who sought to spread their political and religious forces. In fact, the tribe soon started to crumble, and Okwonko could not adapt to the new ways. In my opinion, it is Okwonko’s own fault for his tragic end. There are many reasons to contribute to his downfall, that include his inability to control his madness and adapt to the changing nature of his tribe.

As the novel progresses it depicts the rising tension between the traditions of the Igbo people and the white colonizers. Moreover, Okonkwo is one of the many tribal people who stand with the old ways. Which, is caused by his anger, that is often shown in outbursts of arrogance rage and abusive behaviour. For example, Okwonko violates the week of peace to beat his youngest wife, Ojiugo, who went to a friends house to braid her hair, and forgot to make the afternoon meal. This shows how Okwonko receives his sense of domination over his wives and children, to imply how manly he is.

“Take away your kola nut. I shall not eat in the house of a man who has no respect for our gods and ancestors.” (Achebe, 30). In addition, he does not care to disrespect his god, because of his recklessness caused by his lack of emotion. Though he committed this act of violence, he was aware of what the consequences were, which results in a punishment for the whole clan. Other than that, Okwonko is faced with many problems throughout the story and chooses ways that are selfish and mean to make himself known to better his self image from his past.

Equally important, many matters in this novel would not be used today but seem to be okay in this tribe, considering that the males have all the rights in this story. With this in mind, Okwonko later on severely beat his second wife, Ekweki and shoots a gun at her. Which was caused by Ewefi who took leave from his banana plant to wrap food with for the Feast of the New Yam. Resulting in, his wives and children constantly tiptoeing around because of his outbursts of rage that give no thoughts to what has already happened.

The festivals are also happening during this time which eases the whole village because there is no work to do, but Onkwonko relieves his stress with violence. Now, in our modern world nobody seems to have a similar household like this because it would violate our morals and would not benefit anyone in any way. In this case, it seems Onkwonko can get away with anything as long as it doesn’t interfere or disrespect the clans religious or political standards. Later on, Ikemefuna, a boy who was just kinda adopted into their family is going to be sacrificed says an old man from the village. Unfortunately, the Oracle says Ikemefuna must be killed for retribution, he tells Okonkwo to not take part. Obreika responded and told Onkwonko to not partake as it is known they are like family. Consequently, Onkwonko does not listen and decides to partake in the murder and kills Ikemefuna with is machete.

So, he would not be seen as weak. “Dazed with fear, Onkwonko drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak.” (Achebe, 61). This shows out of an act of fear he decided ot partake in the murder of his own son. Even though he acted out based on his fear of how the clan view him, he in the end, doubts his masculinity. Onkwonko then tries to reason with Obierika that what he’d done was reasonable but instead receives criticism. For instance, Okonkwo then says Obierika is not a man, but in reason, it is he who needs confirmation of his masculinity as opposed to obierika’s opinion.

Later on, during a funeral for an old man, Onkwonko accidentally kills his own clansman, which causes him to be exiled for seven years, because it is a crime against their Earth goddess. During his second year of his exile, Obierika visits and tells how a white man was murdered in Abame, so a group of men slaughter the villagers in retribution, that cause the village of Abame to be deserted. However, white men come to Mbanta, where Onkwonko lives now, so they can convert them into christianity. The villagers then give land that is on the Evil forest, so they can build their church, but nothing happens to the missionaries, which captivates the villagers and recruits them.

“At last the day came by which all the missionaries should have died. But they were still alive, building a new red-Earth and thatch house for their teacher, mr. Kiaga. That week they won a handful of more converts.” (Achebe, 151). The people begin to think how powerful they are and that they are magical. Onkwonko then returns to Umuofia, and sees that many men converted to christianity, and the white men have established a government of law. When the church leader leaves, his church is destroyed, when he returns he speaks with the six leaders of the tribe and jails them. After they are released, they have a meeting, and five court messengers come to stop them.

Therefore, Onkwonko beheads one of them, so the messengers run away, and no one seems to stop them. At that moment Onkwonko realizes that they won’t go to war and his tribe will surrender. In the end Onkwonko is the one who takes his own life. “It is an abomination for a man to take his own life. It is an offense against the Earth, and a man who commits it will not be buried by his clansmen.” (Achebe, 207). Ironically, Onkwonko’s self doubt leads him to commit an act of cowardice and least masculine crime of all in Umuofia’s eye: Suicide.

In conclusion, the story of a man who was driven to an end that was caused by his own actions. However, it is shown as an apocalyptic vision in which the world of Umuofia collapses into anarchy. As Achebe illustrates this by showing us the society of the Igbo people at the time of colonization by the British. In contrast, the Europeans were prejudiced and arrogant of the tribes. The tribes were violated and forced to give in. Lastly, the Europenas are to blame because they were the ones who just barged in and helped themselves to take over and surprise many oblivious people with their advanced knowledge of many things.

In my opinion, many of the reasons the tribe fell apart was their gullible selves and lack of knowledge about the world. And once they learned how the white men lived a life without violence, they gave in. Including men who didn’t have a reason to stay because their failures in the tribe. With this in mind, as soon as one started to doubt their own religion compared to christianity where they relied on one God, who was in power of everything they seem to think it was more stronger. In the hope that Onkwonko’s tribe would stand strong, they ended up with the extinction of Umuofia.


Cite this paper

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Acheb. (2021, Jan 27). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/things-fall-apart-by-chinua-acheb/

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