Analysis Of How Chinua Achebe Uses The Weather In His Novel Things Fall Apart
In the simple story, Things Fall Apart, the author Chinua Achebe writes about a “strong man” whose life is dominated by fear and anger. While pathetic fallacy is a literary device wherein the author attributes human emotions to inanimate objects. Achebe uses the weather in his novel to not only reflect the characters’ feelings but also to demonstrate how much the tribe depends on it for their survival. The droughts and the lack of rain affects them in multiple different ways, such as their physical world, spiritual realms; and of course, emotional realms. The Igbo people are greatly impacted by the variations in the weather, and thus it may be a source of assurance and/or panic. This essay will examine the efficacy with which the pathetic fallacy is used in the novel in the form of weather as a reflection of the impacts on the characters.
It is certain that the physical world of the Igbo people is greatly impacted by unpredictable weather. This is evident when the main character, Okonkwo, loses his crops due to the drought. When the author states, “For days and nights together it poured down in violent torrents, and washed away the yam heaps”. This scene stresses how the weather controls the villagers’ source of food. Another example of the Igbo people getting impacted by the weather is when the author describes Okonkwo’s hard work in the fields, as it implies that Umuofia survives by its agriculture, which heavily relies on certain weather. As the author narrates, “During the planting season Okonkwo worked daily on his farms from cock-crow until the chickens went to roost”, one can see that the villagers depend on the generosity of the earth for their survival. The physical world of Ikemefuna is also an example of how the weather impacts him. The author describes, “He grew rapidly like a yam tendril in the rainy season, and was full of the sap of life”. Ikemefuna’s youth is described as yam tendrils and sap in the rainy season. Consequently, it is clearly seen that the weather affects the physical world of Igbo people.
In addition to the impacts of the weather in the characters’ physical world, their spiritual realm is affected as well. This is emphasized when Okonkwo uses the idea of weak chi as an excuse when things do not work out as he hopes. When the drought destroys his harvests, he blames it on his unfortunate chi, as mentioned by the author, “Clearly his personal god or chi was not made for great things. A man could not rise beyond the destiny of his chi”. The drought symbolizes Okonkwo’s spiritual and emotional realm. Moreover, the Igbo people regard droughts as the consequence of being offensive towards god and sacred things. This is seen when Okonkwo murders Ikemefuna which led him to his emotional drought as conveyed when one of the men says, “‘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’”. The Igbo people believes that one must sacrifice oneself to restore the rain and the land. Okonkwo commits suicide as a sacrifice for his sin. Furthermore, the weather not only reflects through the Okonkwo’s spiritual realm, but of the entire village, due to their customs being entangled with the village’s prosperity. As yams are the king of crops, the cultivation of it must be carefully done through the guidance of proverbs and rituals; if done correctly, they will be rewarded with good weather, good harvests and their prosperity will be continued. Unfortunately, overtime, the rituals begin to be abandoned, and the consequence is the growth of spiritual droughts in Umuofia as the narrated, “when the rains came the bush grew thick on either side and closed in on the path”. Villagers are fearful of droughts, and it causes them a great amount of stress. Overall, weather obviously greatly impacts the Igbo people’ spiritual realm.
Another example of how the weather impacts the tribe is reflected by their emotional realm. During the rainy seasons, the villagers are fearful for their crops, and are upset when they have thoughts of losing them. It is described to be much like a funeral when the villagers lose their crops, “That year the harvest was sad, like a funeral, and many farmers wept as they dug up the miserable and rotting yams”. Although the droughts scare and frighten the villagers, they are thankful for the rain as indicated by the author, “When the rain, finally came, it was in large, solid drops of frozen water which the people called ‘the nuts of the water of heaven.’ They were hard and painful on the body as they fell, yet young people ran about happily picking up the cold nuts and throwing into their mouths to melt”. Most would agree that staying indoors is preferred while it is cold and rainy outside; the villagers on the other hand, are excited to go outside to work and stay in cold and painful weather; thus implying how grateful they were for the rain. Another instance where the weather influences the villagers’ mood is when it became sunny after a heavy rainfall. The author paints a vivid image in the reader’s head as he narrates, “The rain fell in thin, slanting showers through sunshine and quiet breeze. Children no longer stayed indoors but ran about singing”. This scene stresses how the Igbo people experience a peaceful sense of tranquility and happiness through weather. Achebe presents the weather as a major element that contributes to the emotional realm of the Igbo people.
It can be clearly seen that Achebe has woven pathetic fallacy in the form of weather as a reflection of the impacts on the characters of Things Fall Apart. The physical world, spiritual realms, and emotional realms of the Igbo people are influenced by various unpredictable weather. The author uses the weather in his novel to reflect the characters’ feelings and to demonstrate how much the tribe depends on it for their survival. A simple story written by Chinua Achebe stresses how the weather impacts humans in many different ways, and how the use of pathetic fallacies creates a more dynamic storyline in a novel.
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