Achebe wrote quite a realistic novel about the white people coming on a land of Nigerians. The main hero of the novel Okonkwo is a consistent traditionalist ensnared by the circumstances. He was assigned to raise a child, a hostage of the hostile village, and then to kill him. Later Okonkwo was expelled and, after seven years, he returned home to discover there white people with their missionaries and school. He flatly refused to accept the new order of things and eventually he took his own life. Actually, “Things Fall Apart” is devoted to the emergence of White in Africa and Aboriginal plight in the new world.
Having read only the title of the novel, one can easily understand that its meaning doesn’t carry anything encouraging. Indeed Chinua Achebe’s novel “Things Fall Apart” tells the reader about the rising pressure of the Christian missionaries on the Umuofian culture as well as on the people belonged to this culture (Shmoop Literature, “Things Fall Apart Title – Shmoop”). There is only one place in the book where the title is mentioned. It is Chapter Twenty where Okonkwo talking with his friend Obierika about their invaders, “The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart” (Achebe 126).
In the novel “Things Fall Apart” Achebe demonstrates the increasing influence of the British presence upon the culture and habitual life of the colonial people. In the novel, he examines traditional life of the Igbo people in the nineteenth century that is at the beginning of their contact with Europeans. As the Ward (2006) wrote in his article “Chinua Achebe’s aim is realism not romance; he offers to us the Igbo people and their society in an especially objective manner, the text being written nearly half a century after the novel is set may have allowed the author this impartiality”.
The narrator in the novel is experienced, mature, and wise old man, who perfectly knows the habitual rituals and traditional life of Igbo people in the nineteenth century. It looks like the author is worried describing the communal life of Igbo people and how it was destroyed by the colonialism. The main character Okonkwo embodies this habitual life. The cause of his tragedy is his non-acceptance of European life models as well as Christianity. He could not contain himself any longer as the distraction of communal life of Igbo people was the last drop for him, therefore his tragedy.
It is clear that Christianity as well as European culture is not compatible with traditional life of Igbo people and their beliefs, customs, and rituals. Igbo people followed great tradition surrounded a marriage, thus the infidelity and divorces were more exception than rule. Igbo people believed in life after death. They also respected the order and law. However, with the injection of Europeans into Igbo land the situation has been changed to the worst (Things Fall Apart (Historical Context)).
Namely, this is the origin of the title of Achebe’s great novel “Things Fall Apart”. Christianity changed many Igbo people, so this was not only the tragedy of the protagonist Okonkwo. When Nwoye becomes a Christian he says “he (Okonkwo) is not my father” (Achebe 144). Those who just only have become Christians began to disdain and look down on their relatives and friends, who refused to accept Christian faith.
There is a definite sense of Achebe’s nostalgia for the beliefs and customs of the depicted people before European colonialism. The author emphasized that all African people as well as Nigerians had their own system of values, which was not worse than European one. Perhaps, it was even superior to the European. There was not place for individualism in the culture of Igbo people prior the European invasion. However, after invasion social solidarity and cohesion was interrupted (Literature Guide, “Things Fall Apart”). There was no help for those who did not accept new European model of life and for those who were sentenced to death. The situation was opposed to the Igbo traditional life and their concept of community. Thus “Things Fall Apart”.
Chinua Achebe’s novel “Things Fall Apart” is the realistic and original source of Igbo society during the nineteenth century and before. The author expressed the conflict between European and African cultures. Namely, the encounter of cultures and the consequent conflict are those moments that make “Things Fall Apart” to be a great novel. It is look as if Okonkwo has foreseen irreversible changes in all spheres of life that came with colonialism.
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