Essay About Things Fall Apart
‘Things Fall Apart’ is a very well-written novel written by Chinua Achebe which took place during the nineteenth century. The setting of the story was Igboland. Throughout this essay, I am going to explain how the protagonist had a life before his world “falls apart” (hence the title), how the outside forces change his life, how he responds to the situation. I will also include how the poem “The Second Coming’ by William Butler Yeats sets the tone and inspiration for the novel Things Fall Apart.
The story begins with Okonkwo, who at a very young age, strived to be perfect which is contrary to his father. His father was lazy, to say the least. He built his home and reputation as a hardworking farmer and wrestler. His hard work paid off as he became wealthy. He had a natural son, Nwoye, and an adoptive son, Ikemefuna, who he loved more than his real son. Things changed when he has to kill his adoptive son as to what his tribe has decided. Okonkwo showed no emotion as he wants to be seen as the image of masculinity although inside, he was guilty, hurt, and regretful. During the funeral, he accidentally shot and killed a boy which caused him to be exiled in Mbanta, his mother’s homeland.
During his stay in Manta, news came to him that the White Missionaries has arrived in his tribe. These White Missionaries bring Christianity with them and has convinced a lot of Igbo people to be converted to Christianity. Just when Okonkwo was allowed to go back home, his son converted to Christianity which made him disown his own son. The Igbo people tried to make peace with the missionaries but the latter captured the leaders of the Igbo people and was only freed when the Igbo people had enough ransom money with them. They wanted revenge, thus they held a war council. But in the midst of the council, the missionaries’ court messenger arrived and ordered them to stop the meeting. It dawned to Okonkwo that they can never go against the white, and as proud as himself, he hung himself to death.
Things Fall Apart is a story of a culture on the verge of change. It talks about how the different characters have responded to the call of change. More often than not, the strain of whether the change is more important than tradition entails personal status questions. For example, Okonkwo is against the new religious and political order. This is because he believed that accepting the new religious and political order means that they are not man enough. In addition, this is also due to his fear that he might lose his social status once he accepts and joins them. For him, his self-worth depends on the traditional standards of society. But these traditional standards of self-evaluation has caused a lot of outcasts to embrace Christianity where they enjoyed a higher status.
Generally speaking, the villagers are in between choosing or resisting change. They are wrapped with fear as to what these changes will bring them and how will they adapt to such changes in as much as they are also excited with the new opportunities and techniques that come with it. However, the White Missionaries wanted to eliminate the need to master the traditional ways of cooking, farming, harvesting, and building which were crucial for survival to the Igbo people. In the entire novel, Achebe showed how these traditions are slowly being changed and forgotten.
The novel does not have a direct antagonist, but the entire world seems to be against Okonkwo. His own family can’t live up with his expectation and his fellow villagers did the same by embracing change rather than protecting and preserving their culture and tradition. In addition to the internal antagonists found inside their village, the presence of the Europeans is also considered as an external antagonist.
The novel is also symbolic. The two symbols that were used in the story is fire and locusts. The fire symbolizes Okonkwo’s personality – fierce and destructive. On the other hand, the locusts symbolize the white colonials whom the Igbos thought are good but actually have a different intention.
It is worth noting that Things Fall Apart’ is written in English. This is because Achebe wanted the people of the West to read and understand it. He wanted to critique and amend what other writers of the colonial period have painted about the image of Africa. In order to achieve his goal, the need to use the language of these colonials is necessary.
Geography plays a pivotal role in the novel as time does. The novel dates back in the 1890s, the time when the British colonials have reached Igboland. The story happened just when British imperialism started in the region, which started not with guns but with Bibles.