Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart
He had a slight stammer and had no patience with unsuccessful men. Okonkwo’s fears were becoming like his father, Unoka because his father was a failure. The characteristics of his father was his father was poor and his wife and children had barely enough to eat and people laughed at him because he was a loafer and they swore never to lend him money again because he never paid it back. Unoka was inactive, deprived, wasteful, weak, moderate, and always very fascinated in music and conversation.
Okonkwo on the other hand was the total opposite of his father, he just married his third wife, he was a wealthy farmer and had two barns full of yams last but not least he had taken two titles and had shown incredible prowess in two inter-tribal wars. 2. Kola is a stimulant, comparable to very strong tea or coffee, which is served on most social occasions in this culture. It is also one ingredient after which Coca Cola is named.
Note how the ritual for sharing kola is described without being explained.
Why do you think Achebe does this? He will continue to introduce Ibo customs in this fashion throughout the novel. * Achebe describes kola without explaining it because he wants the reader to know that Kola nuts plays a big part in the African culture due to the fact that in the book it states “He who bring Kola Nuts brings life”. Kola Nuts is to be presented to the titled man or a village head. This plays a very important social and ritual role in the Igbo culture. The kola-nuts are the highest symbol of Igbo hospitality.
Whenever a kola-nut appears in a gathering, the matter to be discussed at that particular time is regarded as very important. When an important guest visits the community, kola-nuts are brought out and handed to the elder person. 3. One becomes influential in this culture by earning titles. As with the Potlatch Indians of our region and many other peoples, this is an expensive proposition which involves the dispersing most of one’s painfully accumulated wealth. What do you think are the social functions of such a system? I believe the social functions of such a system is to show your people how far you have come as a person and how successful you are. So the more money that you spend it shows people how victorious you are. If you just have a regular old party without putting much money into it you aren’t that successful in other people’s eyes. 4. One of the most famous lines in the novel is “proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten. ” What does this mean? Palm oil is a rich yellow oil pressed from the fruit of certain palm trees and used both for fuel and cooking.
Look for other proverbs as you read. Cowry shells threaded on strings were traditionally used as a means of exchange by many African cultures. The villages’ distance from the sea makes them sufficiently rare to serve as money. Cowries from as far away as Southeast Asia have been found in sub-Saharan Africa. * This important quote shows how the Igbo people use their art of rhetoric so plainly. The quote shows how our lifestyle is one of fast-paced conversations, yet the Igbo prize conversation as an art form.
That art form shows how the Igbo people use rhetoric so plainly. We all know proverbs are meant to be well thought-out and intentional but not quickly digested and forgotten. In the quote the metaphor suggests that words are organized by proverbs for digestion. Palm oil was a common form of cooking oil, and many foods were prepared with it for use. For that reason, proverbs are the source by which words or conversations are made. The same value that they place on food, the nourishment of life, to words, the sustenance of communication and for these reasons the community.
Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart gives the reader a strong description of
Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart gives the reader a strong description of the Igbo culture through the stories of Okonkwo and his village, Umuofia. In regards to Igbo culture, contributions of women cannot be ignored. Although their position and status seems to be underestimated by the people in the novel. This seems to be the reason why different stories bring out women and their roles in society although the stories may not be talking about a women as a main character.
Things fall apart is no different in bringing out the role of the women in a traditional African setting. Women play pivotal roles in Educational, Religious and Social care in the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.In Things fall apart, women are featured as the main children’s educators. They do these by telling them stories, teaching them the ethics of socializing with other people and good behavior. The children are taught good values and morals by their parents and in this case, their mothers, who encourage them to develop social values and good interaction skills.
Woman were regarded as inferior objects in the society but this did not turn them down from performing their societal roles especially that of being the educator of the children. The upbringing of a child is what determines what the child will be in the future. In the Ibo community, the rearing of a child was solely the role of the woman who was supposed to make sure that the child was well conversant with the customs and rules of the society. The knowledge of the societal norms was all of importance to the mother as she needed to educate the children about them. This was to avoid situations where the child would be in trouble for dishonoring the highly regarded goddesses or leaders of the community which would be a disgrace to the family especially the father who would put the blame on the mother and possibly beat her. Therefore, in a society which is dominated by men, the woman had to be very careful about the reputation the man would have in the society if certain unfortunate things happened may be from the behavior of the children or herself which is the reason why mother education to the children was important. The woman’s reputation depended on that of the man which was important for the woman to protect.The women were also involved in religious matters and this can be presented in various ways. The women belonged to the religion of Ibo. They regularly played the part of the priestess. In the early days, a woman by the name of Chika is seen as a priestess. She is the former priestess of the oracle during Unoka’s time. This woman was very powerful and respected by the people (Achebe 17). Thus she portrays the role of women in religious matters. Currently, Chielo is the priestess who is also the hill’s and caves’ oracle, She was the priestess of Agbala, the Oracle of the Hills and the caves, (Achebe 35). In other words, women are seen taking a great part in religion in the community, for instance, as priestesses. The woman is seen to have a lot of religious power. This is evident when Chielo, a religious woman, orders and threatens Okonkwo to surrender himself and his daughter to Agbala who wished to see her. After she warns him, Okonkwo gives in to the idea. Women in this case are seen as powerful spiritual leaders who can warn and order their followers in order to do the right thing that is expected of them by the religion and in this case in the society of Ibo. Ani was the goddess of the earth. She was responsible for making sure that the society observed the right conduct and morals. Ani worked closely with the dead clan members who had their bodies committed to the earth (Achebe 36).The community also believed that they had to honor the earth goddess for blessings in order to have their yam crops grow. This was done by the members of the clan who had to strictly observe the peace week before the harvests (Achebe 30). The woman is seen to have such great spiritual power, honor and respect which are beneficial to the society and which must be respected in order for something good to happen like plenty harvests. The clan members are greatly worried about having such little harvests when the peace of the earth goddess, Ani, is broken by Okonkwo when he battered his wife. Wife battering was not allowed on the peace week (Achebe 30). The women were also involved in solving problems of a social nature. The mother acts as the comfort not only to children but also to other men who have problems. The workforce consisted of a lot of women. They performed many tasks that were only separated for them and that men could not perform. Painting of Egwugwu’s house was done by women. They were also supposed to entertain the children at all times and make them grow in an artistic manner.The woman is seen as a powerful object that is able to encourage people when feeling low and demotivated. When the men face some social problems like neglect, the woman acts to encourage them. Thus, it is said that the mother is a superior being who does not abandon her children in all situations in life, for instance Okonkwo who is rejected after killing the son of Ezeudu. It is believed that a male child is his father’s only when life seems to be flowing well but when in trouble, it his mother’s. This is better depicted by the uncle of Okonkwo who then persuades him to go back to his mother as she will accept him at all situations. Despite all this the mother does not judge them. The woman is considered to be the forgiving and understanding being who can never reject or look down upon anyone and who will provide help whenever she can. This is a very important role.There are two marriages that are talked about that the writer uses them to show the meaning of having a woman in the Igbo society. They are the makers of a home, the prospecting mothers, and people who help men in certain tasks. In any man-woman relationship, children are the most important and valuable gifts that they can be given which is not different in this community where the woman is considered as an important part of the family.Although in an indirect manner, the importance of a woman and in this case, the first wife in the Ibo society is portrayed in a celebration held at the Obi of Nwakibie whereby the other wives are not allowed to drink wine before her arrival (Achebe 22). The first wife is thus shown special respect and recognition in the Ibo community.The name Agbala in the Ibo community means a woman or a title less man. In his early childhood, Okonkwo felt disrespected when called the name Agbala as the peers were teasing him and more so his father who was seen as a weakling. This really tormented him and made him become obsessed with consideration of social status above everything else. Okonkwo struggled so much never to be associated with anything weak as anything weak was likened to a woman and vice versa. Nwoye who is the son of Okonkwo from his first wife is also insulted by being viewed as woman-like just because Okonkwo is reminded of his father when he sees him. In this context we see the woman being looked down upon by the whole Ibo community as a weak being. The men who are not courageous and violent are also seen to be as weak as women meaning that the society’s perception of women is that of a person who is not strong and is weak (Whittaker and Msiska 64).The woman is generally looked down upon. We see Okonkwo being punished for disrupting the peace of the earth goddess but not for buttering his wife. To them wife buttery is not a crime as according to the society, the woman is only there to give birth, to perform house chores and cook for the husband and also to be beaten. This is just how cruel the man is (Whittaker and Msiska 65).The story was written in the times when the only important being in the society was seen as the man and not the woman. The children who turned out to be disgraceful to the society were all demeaned and likened to a woman. To add to this, the woman would be blamed for poor upbringing of the children as tha
t was solely considered as her role (Okpewho 34).The story however shows some respect for few female figures that seem to be very significant to the society, for instance, the women spiritual leaders. The respect shown to them is not because they are women but because the society demands that they be respected for their important roles in divine intervention. The women also show strong leadership, power and prowess in their work (Okoye 45).Although the woman is not the main character in this story, it is clear that she plays a big role and cannot be ignored when talking about the story. The roles discussed above show clearly that the woman plays a pivotal role in Educational, Religious and Social issues.
The Depiction of Culture Clashes is no Stranger
The depiction of culture clashes is no stranger to literature, especially when it comes to the proliferation European religious values in order to better societies that are considered primitive. In the novel Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, just such a culture clash takes place, with the main character Okonkwo’s village being overtaken by Christian white men seeking to convert his tribe. Though many people become convinced of the new religion’s authenticity over time, Okonkwo is an inflexible warrior at heart, and his refusal to accept the changes taking place in his community serves to further exacerbate the point of the novel– that things that were once familiar always fall apart in the end.
Okonkwo’s village, Umuofia, is one of a group of nine villages in Nigeria, and their isolation even from each other shows how far cut off they are from the rest of the world. However, the Ibo people who live there still have a very strong culture, consulting the Oracle for advice and having “egwugwu” (people dressed up as ancestral spirits) preside over trials.
Okonkwo is very comfortable in this environment, and is highly esteemed among his fellows for his strength in wrestling and his always plentiful yam harvests. He’s happy with where he is in life, but of course, it’s doomed not to last.
Soon, white Christian missionaries begin to invade Umuofia and surrounding villages, and the people don’t know how to respond. At first, they take it as a joke, allowing the foreigners to build churches and seek converts, but when these endeavors soon become successful, the people of Umuofia don’t know what to believe anymore. Some buy into the new religion, while others scorn it and call to drive the foreigners out. No one supports the latter option more than Okonkwo, who laments that the men are all turning into women, and that they need to stand up for their traditional tribal beliefs over these alien ideas, reflecting that he sees the clan “breaking up and falling apart” (Achebe 183). His strong, unflinching nature comes out clearly in this struggle, as he fights to preserve his way of life even when all his peers are giving way to the pressure of the white man’s religion.
Finally, Okonkwo’s aggressive ideas begin to gain favor with the men of the village, and they band together and burn down the new church. This leads to a tense situation where war trembles on the tips of Umuofia’s fingers, but when Okonkwo strikes the first blow, they back away. It is then, as he’s looking down at the man he’s just killed, that “he knew that Umuofia would not go to war. . . They had broken into tumult instead of action” (Achebe 205). Okonkwo then goes on to hang himself because he knows that Christianity and the white men have won out over his will, and he can’t stand the idea of living in a society where their ideas preside.
This cultural collision of traditional tribal values and the spread of Christianity serves as a catalyst for Okonkwo’s world falling apart, which is a major theme in the novel. As much as he tries to keep his life the way it always has been, everything inescapably falls apart in the end, and eventually leads to Okonkwo’s suicide. The novel ends with the suggestion that the new religion now has a more powerful hold over the tribe, showing the white priests taking down Okonkwo’s body from the tree, the last resistance dying away with him.
Things fall apart essays
Question 1: Proverbs
A proverb can be described as a short and wise saying holding great importance and guidance. In the African culture, proverbs convey wisdom and life lessons and is seen with the Igbo culture. The Igbo people uses proverbs in their everyday conversations and is highly regarded. This essay will examine the proverb stated above and discuss the significance of it in the context used in the novel.
“If one finger brought oil it soiled the others” (Achebe, 1958: 118), means that all actions good or bad has consequences.
These actions not only effects the person but others around him like his family. This is seen in chapter thirteen when Obierika mourns Okonkwo’s crime and questions it including his own. Okonkwo’s crime takes place at Ezedu’s funeral, when Okonkwo accidentally shoots and kills Ezedu’s youngest son during the farewell dance. This leads to Okonwo as well as his family to go into exile for seven years in his motherland Mbanta.
The consequence of this action can be seen when Okonkwo’s life falls apart and those closes to him such as Nowye. Nowye is unable to forgive Okonkwo killing Ikemefuna, this leads Nowye to join the missionaries and convert to Christianity, amongst other Igbo members.
This proverb holds great power, showing why proverbs are highly regarded in the Igbo clan. This shows that indeed Okonkwo’s actions did have severe consequences which lead him to his downfall but also for his clan.
Question 2: Gender
Sexism is the discrimination on the basis of one’s sex, generally against women and girls. Various scenes makes one believe that the book is sexist. Crops are categorized by gender “His mother and sisters worked hard enough, but they grew women’s crops, like coco-yams, beans and cassava. Yam, the king of crops, was a man’s crop”(Achebe, 1958:22). This essay argues whether the book is sexist or not, ultimately this decision is made by the reader.
Femininity to the men Igbo men especially Okonkwo is seen as a weakness, causing him to show his masculinity side by beating his children and wives, “And when she returned he beat her very heavily” (Achebe, 1958:37). The book represents the idea that women are only good enough to bear children and staying domesticated. Other incidents show that women didn’t not have much power and are seen as objects which can be traded for at any time, “The law of Umuofia is that if a woman runs away from her husband her bride-price is returned.” (Achebe, 1958:86). These incidents causes one to think that the text indeed is sexist but one should remember that in the African culture women are expected to be submissive to their husbands. This idea of a sexist text is created by the modern / colonial times as this would not be allowed. This shows how the colonial rule influence many to think that the African culture was wrong. “Mother is supreme” (Achebe, 1958:125). shows that women play an important role, if anything goes wrong women are able to bring comfort.
The role of a female goddess also shows that the book is not fully sexist. The idea of a sexist book should be based on each reader’s perspective as culture and modern ideologies play an important role in shaping these ideas.
`With reference to your wider reading around 'Purple Hibiscus'
Masculinity is highly concerned with identity and in the context of a shifting and developing society, is presented as an outdated concept that brings about its own collapse. In both Purple Hibiscus and Things Fall Apart, masculinity is moulded on the strict forms of worship of both Igbo tradition and Catholicism and is grounded in the cultural identity of each novel. From this evolves a type of masculinity that not only lies at the heart of each culture, sharing the same morals and values, but one that also thrives and becomes more dominant when a society spreads.
The type of culture Achebe establishes, is one in which ‘in which violence is an integral part of social relations and in which warfare is an accepted last resort in dealing with conflict among communities’ . Based on these principles, Okonkwo who is intolerable of other religions and preventative of societal advancement, believes Colonialism must be prevented and the way to do so is through violence.
Despite the arrival of the “white man· [who] came quietly and peaceably with his religion” both Okonkwo and the missionaries are in competition for dominance, which inevitably leads to violence. The colonists attack the Abame people when a white man is murdered in their village and torture the elderly members of Umuofia which results in Okonkwo murdering a messenger of the colonists. By using violence as a means of achieving cultural dominance, Achebe not only demonstrates the inextricable link between violence and culture but also reveals masculinity is a reason why Igbo society is unable to protect itself from missionaries and colonialism. Nwoye, Okonkwo’s son, shows how the aggressive and violent form of masculinity that Okonkwo represents is giving way to a gentler and more passive form through his rejection of his father and involvement with the missionaries. Okonkwo rejects his son for joining the missionaries, threated to kill him, ‘hit him with two or three savage blows’ and Nwoye ‘walked away and never returned’. Through the collapsed father-son relationship of Okonkwo and Nwoye, Achebe is highlighting a new form of masculinity that is emerging, one that doesn’t rely on violence. By the end of the novel, Achebe presents violence and murder as almost a sin, as a man who killed the sacred python was found dead himself the next day; “His death showed that the gods were still able to fight. The clan saw no reason then for molesting the Christians.” In this respect, Okonkwo’s acts of violence reflect his powerlessness and fear or failure which leads to the ultimate collapse of his status in the clan, title as the greatest warrior and the unity of his community when his own son turns against him. Adichie similarly uses a shifting society to expose destructive masculinity in ‘Purple Hibiscus’. Papa Eugene, a character governed by a violent masculine nature, struggles to be himself in a changing society. The setting of the novel takes place in two main cities in Nigeria, Enugu and Nsukka in the last months of a dictatorial regime. Eugene possesses many characteristics of a dictator, shown through his dominance and obsessive need for control in the family, along with his fanatic Catholic principles. He, like the dictatorship, slowly loses the control he holds over his family and Kambili describes “when Papa threw the missal at Jaja, it was not just the figurines that came tumbling down, it was everything”. Adichie later reveals that the figurines are not just ornaments but they signify more, Mama has an emotional attachment to the figures, they act as a source of comfort to her when she’s beaten by Eugene, the notion of fracturing and shattering reflects the fractured family dynamics and the act itself was driven by Jaja who acts as a threat to Eugene’s dominant status. If masculinity is characterised by society then here, Eugene’s violent masculinity is a result of the threat from his son Jaja. Critic Sujala Singh explores the role of children in postcolonial literature and concluded that it ‘becomes a means of commenting on violence legitimised at the level of the nation states’ . The violence Jaja and Kambili are exposed to arguably reflect the suffering and killing of thousands of minority Igbos in the Biafran War. Papa, like the Biafra’s wanted independence, a more dominant position and a sense of leadership but they were rejected by Nigeria and over a million people died. Similar to the killing of Ade Coker for his and Eugene’s publishing of anti-governmental newspapers, the Nigerian government used violence as a means of suppressing threats. ‘Purple Hibiscus’ ends with Jaja in jail for his mother’s crime and critic Jane Bryce argues that this effect of this ‘indicates that the price of patriarchal power politics is being paid by the next generation’ . In this context, where men collapse, women are able to flourish. The female characters are able to rise above these traditional constructs and the shift in society’s attitudes brings them a sense of liberation and freedom. The emergence of new attitudes in both novels is reflective of the emergence of new nations and new literature as the effect of ‘fracturing from colonialism’ . Adichie, as a third-generation writer, played a crucial part in ‘shifting the ground of identity construction’ in Nigerian fiction. Third-generation Nigerian writers embodied a feminist perspective and used it to move Nigerian literature away from the ‘masculine self’ and patriarchal norms. The advancement of female characters within the novels, such as the liberation of Kambili and her family and Aunty Ifeoma’s move to America in ‘Purple Hibiscus’, are symbolic of the progression of Nigerian female writers in society and their works becoming more widely recognised.
Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart set in the 1890s depicts the
Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart, set in the 1890s, depicts the controversy amongst Nigeria’s customary native Igbo customs and the plodding expanse of a different tradition, presented through the British colonisers. Since Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria and educated in Britain, this novel is the first novel about Africa written by an African writer in the English language. In illustrating the conflict amid traditions, the novelist focuses specific concentration concerning the portrayal of the features of both conflicting customs; Chinua Achebe endeavours to dispel stereotypes of African local communities, whilst nonetheless presenting diverse representations of the British pioneers.
As this narrative paints a patent discrepancy stuck among traditions, the novel may perhaps be ‘read and interpreted differently by two different readers’: the colonized Africans and the British colonizer. A key aspect which would predominantly contrast to the readers would be the insight of language along with the subsequent perception of the narrative.
In favour of the colonized, the language inside the novel would highlight that Africa exists as not a ‘primordial’ and still area.
Seeing as Chinua Achebe places a copious amount of Igbo terms without interpreting them, the writer displays that Igbo language conveys Igbo customs within an approach that English phrases can’t depict accurately. For instance, “When a man says yes his chi says yes also.” (Page19). The word “chi” is not interpreted for the reason that its English interpretation ‘one’s personal God’ would not express the denotation of the proverb candidly. This points out that the Igbo way of life cannot be understood wholly when viewed from a coloniser’s lens. Okonkwo too indicates to his comrade Obierika: “Does the white man understand our custom about land?”, “How can he when he does not even speak our tongue?” (Page124).
Above the intricacy of only the “tongue” the reader happens to be presented towards the complexity of a system of languages. Such as, Mr. Brown’s translator communicates a faint like chalk and cheese language compared to Umuofians displaying that Africa stands built up of numerous minor countries, several traditions along with customs.
Moreover, Chinua Achebe too incorporates various proverbs, myths, as well as mantras from the Igbo language whilst interpreting them to English. The interpretation renders it viable for the reader to denote the perceptions which symbolise the tradition, yet expressing the patterns plus the constructs of the Igbo language, emphasising their exquisiteness coupled with creating an ampler proclamation counter to the continent being frequently described as ‘archaic’. Actually, his major aim with this novel stood to counteract stories that nattered of Africa as “a primitive and ingenuous thwart for Europe.” In place of the colonized reading, this novel could possibly generate liberation seeing that at last, there stands an endeavour to be authentic to Igbo customs.
Though, Chinua Achebe was the child of a Protestant missionary and established his education in English; he didn’t undergo the Ibo customs entirely at its proper origins. If truth be told, some could claim that Chinua Achebe was conveyed to recognise certain circumstances with a minor British partiality to consequently offer a portrayal of the Ibo traditions which isn’t entirely sincere to customs.
Being as ‘Things Fall Apart’ is written in English, it stays aimed to remain understood through an audience of English speaking readers, such as the British colonizers. In order to endeavour to describe the Ibo tradition the novel includes a glossary of, footnotes and expressions in English. To a British reader, this novel indicates the intricacy of the Ibo tongue which, though, can’t permanently be completely understood as interpretations frequently mitigate the manifold meanings of words.
Additionally, Chinua Achebe emphasizes the unfeasibility of absolute comprehension all through incidents in the novel. For instance, the colonizers require translators sequentially to apprehend the Ibo natives as well as converse. Yet, they still aren’t completely capable of understanding each other and interacting. This ironically suggests to the English speaking readers attempting to grasp the Ibo traditions with their own cultural views. Additionally, although the novel is infused with tales consecutively to show the lifeblood of the Ibo tradition, to the English speaking, these appear useless. While the colonized recognised these anecdotes as plausible descriptions of mental matters as well as accepted occurrences, the colonizers perceive the Ibo’s insight of the world as constrained to rudimentary values coupled with still not “modernized” by European impact.
An incident in Chapter 25 underlines the matter: the Commissioner, characterising the conventional colonizer, discloses the heading of the book concerning Africa which he is writing, ‘The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger’ and illuminates that what Achebe ensured devoted the entire novel to, Okonkwo’s tragedies, would perhaps form ‘an interesting paragraph or two’. This verifies that the colonizers observe Africa imprecisely, and all they perceived stands solely belittled to myths and humorous as well as entertaining stories. Nevertheless, a colonizer reading this novel may not sense the shady satire in the ending of the novel; the conclusion of ‘Things Fall Apart’ would be read as a moral build on behalf of everything that has stood narrated and again seen in a superficial approach. ‘A European account of Okonkwo would likely portray him as a grunting, cultureless savage who inexplicably and senselessly kills a messenger.’
Concisely, as this novel depicts several distinctions amid two contrasting customs, it could certainly be read and interpreted by two readers from the two distinct traditions being described: the colonized Africans and the British colonizer. What would majorly vary for the readers would be the reading of language: for the colonized this novel would predominantly be valid to certain significant features of the Ibo culture as there are unique terms plus stories comprised in the novel that prove the intricacy of the language and traditions. Though, for the colonizers, not wholly understanding the essence of the language, the novel may not provide the matching optimistic look. In actual fact, as the colonized would be alleviated that the narrators attempt to be proper to their culture, the colonizers may not be able to restrain to such trifling aspects and may even observe the novel as a compilation of inane folklore.
The Kite Runner and Things Fall Apart: Main Themes
Hosseini and Achebe, authors of The Kite Runner and Things Fall Apart above all else, heavily focus their novel on “a bleak portrait of a changing world”. Both authors present the changing world through key events that are happening in the world during the time the novels were set. The Kite Runner’s major events include the rise of the Taliban and the Soviet invasion which were both key factors for the protagonists changing world. During Things Fall Apart, the invasion of the Colonists was the starting point for the changing world, this led to the loss of power for the protagonist of the novel which presents a major changing world.
Within both novels, the authors are different in their ways of presenting the bleak changing world. Hosseini seems to present it through trauma and real events that were occurring at the time like the coup of the king and the invasion of the Soviets. He signifies how these events change the lives of everyone living in Afghanistan at the time.
Whereas Achebe presents his trauma more so through things that you could expect to happen at that time, not exactly real-life events. The invasion of the colonists and the loss of power are things that you would expect to happen at the time this novel was written.
The first major contextual event that occurs in the novel is the military coup of the king by Mohammad Daoud Khan. During July of 1973, this major political event took place in Afghanistan which Hosseini mentions in the book during chapter 5. The persona, Amir, states how his way of life was about to change drastically and “if not yet, then at least it was the beginning of the end.” The use of this apocalyptic language truly signifies that the lives of the characters in the novel were completely going to change for the worse hence the word “end.” This could be foreshadowing that following the military coup of the king, a character’s life in the novel is going to come to an end we get this idea because, during the coup of the king and his family being killed which foreshadows a later death, this point becomes evident further on in the novel. The use Hosseini’s abrupt language truly emphasises the significance of the events, the word itself holds so much tension which I believe is used to put the reader on edge. The use of the phrase “if not yet” could be a way of Hosseini preparing the reader for even more brutal events. It could also make readers argue that the coup of the king was not completely the reasoning behind the “bleak changing world”. when Hosseini makes us question this, Amir goes on to state how the “official end” was on April 1978 which was, in fact, the communist coup, which then led onto to, December 1979. Russian military tanks would “roll into the very same streets where Hassan” and Amir played “bringing the death of Afghanistan.” The authors use of deathly imagery emphasises the morbid and dark mood that the characters were facing at the time. This statement also links to an article produced by Theodore L. Eliot, Jr who explained that the “war continued, bringing further death and devastation in large areas of the country” which was all due to the hopes of a non-communist government not being realised.
Following my earlier points, both events seem to foreshadow the death of Hassan and arguably Ali too. From Rahim Khan, Amir learns that Ali was murdered by a land mine and that Hassan and his wife were also killed after Hassan refused to allow the Taliban to confiscate Baba and Amir’s house in Kabul. Even though Hassan had many other people to back up his story that the Taliban refused to believe him, after Amir heard the story of Hassan’s death, it is clear by the amount of pausing in his speech that he is affected deeply. “Shot her too. Self-defense, they claimed later ” after this he did not manage to finish his sentence, this is clear that the worst traumas are the unspeakable. Many events took place which are embedded in the novel, these are cleverly talked about by the critic, Sunan Ampel Surabaya. He exclaims how “historical events found in the novel and those were also really happened in Afghanistan, such as Hazara’s discrimination, the collapse of the monarchy, the Soviet invasion, the civil war of Afghanistan, the Taliban’s regime and 9/11 Twin Tower tragedy.” This critique is backed by many of my previous points, which stress that the changing world is heavily caused by contextual events that the charters have to face, we also see this theme in another of Hosseini’s books called A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Likewise, in Things Fall Apart the invasion of the locusts was arguably the starting point for the bleak changing world. The locusts were first introduced in chapter 6 where a short sentence states “then the locusts came.” The fact that this sentence is very short, perceives it as being significant, which makes readers believe that this was, in fact, the starting point for the changing world in this novel as the sentence was very climactic. A few pages on in the novel we come to find the people of Umuofia were actually very pleased that the locusts were arriving we see this as they joyfully chanted that locusts were descending. This chant was “everywhere” and “everyone was now praying that the locusts should camp in Umuofia” these quotations are key in showing that the people of Umoufia were more than happy for the arrival of the locusts. The locusts that appear in the village can be symbols of the missionaries that began to spread their religion throughout Africa, likewise to the Russians spreading communism in Afghanistan. The locusts were “settled of every tree and on every blade of grass; they settled on the roofs and covered the bare ground.” This quote from chapter 7 is an example of what Umoufia was like during the invasion of the locusts. The earth was completely covered in locusts making the ground near to impossible to see, the missionaries arguably had the same effect. When the missionaries arrived in Africa they retrieved lots of land from the villagers, they manage to convert some villagers to Christianity which cause a massive problem when trying to work out who was Christian and who was not.
Achebe’s reasoning behind including locusts as such a significant motif in the text was because they were a very large significance in Ibo culture at the time. In the novel they arguably foreshadow certain events to come, like the arrival of the locusts symbolises the later arrival or invasion of the colonists. In the novel Achebe presents the mood as being very positive and cheerful, “Okonkwo sat in his obi crunching happily” this positive atmosphere is then contrasted straight after when Okonkwo finds out that “Umuofia has decided to kill” a boy that calls Okonkwo his father. This quote reinforces the fact that, though the coming of the locusts was a happy time for everyone, although the good things often foreshadow negative times to come, thus being the killing of Ikemfuna. Both authors show their different ways of presenting the bleak changing world through a very similar contextual event, thus being the coup of the Daud later leading to the invasion of the Russian and the invasion of the locusts which are said to symbolise the missionaries. These events are similar in ways as they both involved a loss in power, the coup of the king we see the king evidently losing in power and the invasion of the locusts we arguably see the villagers losing power.
Another crucial factor in the way both authors present the bleak changing world during both texts is the way life changed for the characters. In The Kite Runner life changed drastically for the characters, it was nothing like their life before the coup of the king. A chapter where this appears is chapter ten where there’s a time shift to March 1981. The time shift in the novel is significant in presenting to the reading that another important event is about to occur, this event is the Soviet Invasion. The Soviet invasion was because the Soviets wanted to protect their interests in Afghanistan from Iran and Western Nations. Events like this changed the lives of the people of Afghanistan. We see this in the novel when Baba and Amir were forced to flee their own home, which was a very traumatic event for these characters. The persona explains the events and goes onto say how every time the truck jolted or shuddered a women that was in the truck with him would burst into prayer screeching “Bismillah!” the fact that the woman feels the need to pray for the protection of their lives truly signifies the danger that they are in due to the Soviet invasion. Which also signifies how trauma was one of the causes for the characters changing world. We also see this where it says how her husband was cradling an infant in one arm and “thumbed prayer beads” in the other. This quote signifies that at that time the life of their children was just as important as praying for their safety. The protagonist faces many traumatic events throughout the novel which lead onto their lives changing in many ways, it is these events that cause the characters to think, act and live differently compare to the way they were prior to the traumatic events happening. Many events happen throughout the novel after the Soviet invasion like the instance where people were found to be selling body parts so that they could carry on living, this event was entrenched at the start of chapter 21, Farid states how you could “get good money for it on the black market. Feed your kids for a couple of weeks.” Before the Soviet invasion the people of Afghanistan were able to survive off their wages, their jobs, but following the invasion, people resorted to selling body parts so that they were able to feed their own families.
The fact that a political event led on to people having to sell their limbs for money is truly astonishing. This signifies that not only did the character of the novels lives changed, but everyone in Afghanistan, all of their lives completely changed. Their way of living was nothing at all like their lives before the political and social events that occurred in the 1900s. Another time we see the changing world caused by trauma is when we learn that Afghan children were taught to go against their parents and quite literally turn their backs on them, from a young age. This event is apparent in chapter 10, where Hosseini states how the Rafiqs had “taught children to spy on their parents, what to listen for, whom to call.” This quote signifies repression; no one could trust one another. This completely contradicted the way Afghanistan was before, the lives of Afghans were before – hence the reason for this being another factor for a changing world. Many children were indoctrinated in schools and were given lessons by teachers in which the children were taught what conversations to listen out for in their homes. During most of the instances, these parents were killed shortly after, the child then became an orphan. An example of this Sohrab, we see that orphanages were very poor and lacked many crucial supplies that the children needed to survive off, although in Sohrab’s case his parents were killed purely because they were Hazaras.
In Things Fall Apart we see trauma creating a changing world for Okonkwo, he is forced to kill a young boy with whom he shared a father-son bond. He was forced to do this to prove his status to the tribe. Even though Okonkwo loved Ikemefuna and in most cases, it was apparent that he thought more highly of him than his own son, he also fears being thought to be weak by the other men he was with. One major aspect of Okonkwo’s character in the novel is that he wanted to be a completely different man to his father, who was seen as being weak, in some ways, feminine. We see this during the killing of Ikemefuna at first, he appears to be showing at least some remorse as Achebe states that as the machete rose “Okonkwo looked at away.” This highlights that viewing the death of someone he loves is too much for him. However, this quote is shortly contradicted when the novel states how “Okonkwo drew his machete and cut him down. He was afraid of being thought weak.” Throughout the novel Okonkwo is constantly trying to prove his masculinity to the clan even through in most cases it causes him to experience severe emotional strain, where he must live it without one of his loved ones. Even though others have counseled him not to be involved in this killing, Okonkwo’s fear of what others might think of him and what they might say drives him to kill Ikemefuna, which is an action that will haunt him for some time afterward. This again proves the point that by going through a traumatic event, it changes the character’s world completely. Even though he had the opportunity not to participate, Okonkwo will this about this for the rest of his life in remorse.
In The Kite Runner, there is a vital passage in presenting how the changing world is one of the key factors. The passage is entrenched in chapter 25, which is a very distressing chapter. The passage seems to be a type of elegy for the lost existence, this is seen when Amir is reminiscing on his “old life” and Sohrabs too. The definition of the word “old” is “having lived or existed for a specified time” this signifies the death of Amir’s old life. A quote made by Hosseini states, “it may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even in a single day, can change a whole lifetime” this was also links to Hosseini’s book A Thousand Splendid Suns. It can be asserted that this day was in April in 1978 when the communist coup took place. This could also link to the quote where Amir states how there are “lots of children in Afghanistan with little childhood” this presents a changing world as the quote on childhood contrasts with the childhood that Amir and Hassan once had. You can also argue that Sorhab once had this childhood as well, we come to think this when Sorhab states how he wants his “old life back.” These present a clear changing world, they emphasise the idea that life is definitely not how it used to be in the slightest.
From looking at many points and aspects I have come to the conclusion that the characters changing world in both novels are very severe and are mainly caused by historical events and also trauma. Throughout things fall apart the changing world is heavily waited on the contextual events of the time, although you could argue political conflict causes traumatic events in the characters to live which results in the changing the world. However, in Things Fall Apart the changing world is mainly caused by colonisation and the refusal to adapt to new changes. I believe the writers chose to include this theme to raise awareness of the political difficulties going on at the time of them writing the novels. Achebe wanting to express the fact that it was not just “one long night of savagery.
Chinua Achebe’s Views of the “Savage” in Things Fall Apart
The subtlety and complexity of African tribal communities is captured well in Chinua Achebe’s book, Things Fall Apart (1994, New York: Anchor Books). The book explodes the myth created by early Western or European writers about Africans being “noble savages. ” Cultural understanding is a key lesson from this book, which shows that a society’s integrity and survival is dependent on the intertwining of its social institutions including culture. One cannot carelessly pass judgment on the ways of another people.
Different communities do things differently and the book illustrates this.
Things fall apart for some peoples, as it were, not because their particular ways of doing things are inferior but because the clashing of different cultures could lead to tragic changes. The book of Achebe speaks for the colonized who describes the colonizer thus: “He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart. ” Published in 1958, Things Fall Apart tells the story of Okonkwo whose tragic life is set at the time of the European colonization of Africa.
Okonkwo is of the tribe Igbo whose rituals and practices are described with provision of the proper meanings that are embedded in or suggested by such practices. By “proper” it is meant that those are the meanings that the Africans themselves have of those practices. Achebe includes detailed descriptions of the justice codes and the trial process, the social and family rituals, the marriage customs, food production and preparation processes, the process of shared leadership for the community, religious beliefs and practices, and the opportunities for virtually every man to climb the clan’s ladder of success through his own efforts.
Achebe also bares for us the motivations and desires of Okonkwo whose dreams are fundamentally no different from that of other individuals in other cultures. The character of Okonkwo dreams of family, peace and happiness, love and understanding. Achebe placed this tragic character in the context of a clash of cultures and this clash led to Okonkwo’s suicide, an unacceptable act in his tribe. Here we cite three selected quotes from the book that suggest the author’s regard of an African tribe’s traditions, culture and perspectives.
First, regarding “conversation,” which is a very cultural material, Achebe writes: “Among the Igbo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten. ” This short and crisp description suggests much appreciation of an Igbo tradition. This quote from the narrator’s recounting in the first Chapter pertains to the sophisticated art of rhetoric practiced by the tribe. The metaphor of words as food is something an anthropologist might expect given the almost exclusively agricultural nature of Igbo society.
Food was valued for sustenance of physical life while words sustained social interaction and hence community life. Here is another quote: Does the white man understand our custom about land? How can he when he does not even speak our tongue? But he says that our customs are bad; and our own brothers who have taken up his religion also say that our customs are bad. How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us? 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. This comes from an exchange between Obierika and Okonkwo at the end of Chapter Twenty which deals with events that have come to pass since the arrival of the colonizers. The lines basically point at the unreasonableness of belittling unfamiliar customs. Finally, here is an illustrative scene in the life of the Igbo tribe: As night fell, burning torches were set on wooden tripods and the young men raised a song.
The elders sat in a circle and the singers went round singing each man’s praise as they came before him. They had something to say for every man. Some were great farmers, some were orators who spoke for the clan. Okonkwo was the greatest wrestler and warrior alive. When they had gone round the circle they settled down in the centre, and girls came from the inner compound to dance. At first the bride was not among them. But when she finally appeared holding a cock in her right hand, a loud cheer rose from the crowd. All the other dancers made way for her. She presented the cock to the musicians and began to dance.
Her brass anklets rattled as she danced and her body gleamed with cam wood in the soft yellow light. The musicians with their wood, clay and metal instruments went from song to song. And they were all gay. ” This happy image and more just had to be described in the novel as it contrasts with the dreadful end that came to pass. The end for Okonkwo enhances the imageries sketched for the readers in the book. One is left unsettled, at the least, with Okonkwo’s passing. Achebe’s character Okonkwo and the Igbo tribe did fall apart but not before the author gave us excellent descriptions of what was a very proud man and his equally proud people.
Themes of Things Fall Apart
Okonkwo’s struggle to live up to what he perceives as “traditional” standards of masculinity, and his failure adapt to a changing world, help point out the importance of custom and tradition in the novel. The Ibo tribe defines itself through the age-old traditions it practices in Things Fall Apart. While some habits mold tribe members’ daily lives, other customs are reserved for special ceremonies. For example, the head of a household honors any male guest by praying over and sharing a kola nut with him, offering the guest the privilege of breaking the nut.
They dank palm-wine together, with the oldest person taking the first drink after the provider has tasted it. Ceremonial customs are more elaborate. The Feast of the New Yam provides an illustration. This Feast gives the tribe an opportunity to thank Am, the earth goddess and source of all fertility. Preparations for the Feast include thorough hut-cleaning and decorating, cooking, body painting, and head shaving. Relatives come from great distances to partake in the feast and to drink palm-wine.
Then, on the second day of the celebration, the great wrestling match is held.
The entire village meets in the village playground, or llo, for the drumming, dancing, and wrestling. The festival continues through the night until the final round is won. Because the tribe views winning a match as a great achievement, the winner earns the tribe’s ongoing respect. Tribal custom dictates every aspect of members’ lives. The tribe determines a man’s worth by the number of titles he holds, the number of wives he acquires, and the number of yams he grows. The tribe acknowledges a man’s very being by the gods’ approval of him.
Without custom and tradition, the tribe does not exist. Choices and Consequences In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo makes a choice early in life to overcome his father’s legacy. As a result, Okonkwo gains the tribe’s respect through his constant hard work. The tribe rewards him by recognizing his achievements and honoring him as a great warrior. The tribe believes that Okonkwo’s personal god, or chi, is good (fate has blessed him). Nevertheless, they realize that Okonkwo has worked hard to achieve all that he has (if a man says yes, his chi says yes).
When he breaks the Week of Peace, however, the tribe believes that Okonkwo has begun to feel too self-important and has challenged his chi. They fear the consequences his actions may bring. The tribe decides to kill Ikemefuna. Even though Ezeudu warns Okonkwo not to be a part of the plan, Okonkwo himself kills Ikemefuna. Okonkwo chooses to kill the boy rather than to appear weak. When Okonkwo is in exile, he ponders the tribe’s view of his chi. He thinks that maybe they have been wrong—that his chi was not made for great things. Okonkwo blames his exile on his chi.
He refuses to accept that his actions have led him to this point. He sees no connections among his breaking the Week of Peace, his killing Ikemefuna, and his shooting Ezeudu’s son In Okonkwo’s eyes, his troubles result from ill fate and chance. Alienation and Loneliness Okonkwo’s exile isolates him from all he has ever known in Things Fall Apart. The good name he had built for himself with his tribesmen is a thing of the past. He must start anew. The thought overwhelms him, and Okonkwo feels nothing but despair. Visits from his good friend, Obierika, do little to cheer Okonkwo.
News of the white man’s intrusion and the tribe’s reactions to it disturb him. His distance from the village, and his lack of connection to it, give him a sense of helplessness. Even worse, Okonkwo’s son, Nwoye, joins the white man’s mission efforts. Okonkwo’s return to the village does nothing to lessen his feelings of alienation and loneliness. The tribe he rejoins is not the same tribe he left. While he does not expect to be received as the respected warrior he once was, he does think that his arrival will prompt an occasion to be remembered.
When the clan takes no special notice of his return, Okonkwo realizes that the white man has been too successful in his efforts to change the tribe’s ways. Okonkwo grieves the loss of his tribe and the life he once knew. He is not able to overcome his sense of complete alienation. Betrayal In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo feels betrayed by his personal god, or chi, which has allowed him to produce a son who is effeminate. Nwoye continually disappoints Okonkwo. As a child, Nwoye prefers his mother’s stories to masculine pursuits.
As an adult, Nwoye joins the white missionaries. Okonkwo also feels betrayed by his clan. He does not understand why his fellow tribesmen have not stood up against the white intruders. When Okonkwo returns from exile, his clan has all but disintegrated. Many of the tribe’s leaders have joined the missionaries’ efforts; tribal beliefs and customs are being ignored. Okonkwo mourns the death of the strong tribe he once knew and despises the “woman-like” tribe that has taken its place. Change and Transformation
The tribe to which Okonkwo returns has undergone a complete transformation during his absence in Things Fall Apart. The warlike Ibo once looked to its elders for guidance, made sacrifices to gods for deliverance, and solved conflicts though confrontation. Now the Ibo are “woman-like”; they discuss matters among themselves and pray to a god they can not see. Rather than immediately declare war on the Christians when Enoch unmasks the eg-wugwu, or ancestral spirit, the Ibo only destroy Enoch’s compound.
Okonkwo realizes how completely the Christians have changed his tribe when the tribesmen allow the remaining court messengers to escape after Okonkwo beheads one of them. Good and Evil Many of the tribesmen view the white man as evil in Things Fall Apart. Tribesmen did not turn their backs on one another before the white man came. Tribesmen would never have thought to kill their own brothers before the white man came. The arrival of the white man has forced the clan to act in ways that its ancestors deplore. Such evil has never before invaded the clan.
Culture Clash. The arrival of the white man and his culture heralds the death of the Ibo culture in Things Fall Apart. The white man does not honor the tribe’s customs and strives to convince tribesmen that the white man’s ways are better. Achieving some success, the white man encourages the tribesmen who join him, increasing the white man’s ranks. As a result, the tribe is split, pitting brother against brother and father against son. Tribal practices diminish as the bond that ties tribesmen deteriorates. Death eventually comes to the weaker of the clashing cultures.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Imperialism- The policy of extending the rule of authority of an empire or nation over foreign countries; or of acquiring or holding colonies of independencies (Random House Western College Dictionary). In my view, imperialism is gaining control over foreign objects. Imperialism embodies superiority in three areas, cultural, social and economic domination. These tree areas are relevant in the play “I Will Marry When I Want” by Ngugi Wa Thiongo and Ngugi Womiri. The theme of the play is how imperialism affects a foreign country’s government, culture and society in negatively.
In this case, Europeans are the imperialists who acquired Kenyan’s territory. Wa Thiongo and Womiri used the characters to express this idea; three of the characters are Gicaamba, Kiguunda and Kioi. Gicaamba represents the social frustration the foreign objects face by the act of imperialism. Kiguunda displays the effect imperialism has on religion and culture. Kioi portrays the oppressor and the damage of economic domination. Gicaamba is a wise, mature, freedom fighter.
He makes the audience question Christianity by pointing out how not all Christians attend church and how come those who are wealthy and pass away are still prayed for at church. Gicaamba is also a factory worker, this way the audience relates to him; most Kenyans work at factories. His song in Act 1 illustrates the social frustration being caused by being over worked and the poverty that Kenyans faced. Their low wages are not enough money to make a living. This causes hunger and lack of health maintenance for families of Kenyans which leads to social frustration.
Establishing churches also annoys Kenyans because they don’t believe in the church. This violates the Kenyans’ traditions. Wa Thiongo and Womiri take us closer to the lives of Kenyans by introducing us to Kiguunda’s life. Kiguunda’s characteristics and events that occurred in his life deliberate the effect of imperialism in Kenyans’ culture. As we see, Kiguunda’s tribal traditions were affected; he converted to Christianity in Act 1, Scene 1. In his home, he kept a board with the inscription “Christ is the head,” He was also planning to remarry in the church; therefore he is following Christian regulations.
His beliefs were slowly being transformed and because of that the audience can relate to the Kenyans’ lifestyle. This illustrates what Europeans do to Kenyans’ families, they convinced them to convert to Christianity. Kioi represents the antagonist in the play because he is powerful and rich and convinces Kiguunda to put his one and a half acres of land in jeopardy by using it as collateral in the bank. One of the reasons why Kioi is wealthy is because he works with Europeans to make profit. This shows how Kenyans work against their own people.
Kioi’s actions and language represent economic domination, which is what missionaries are doing to Kenyans. He convinced Kiguunda to join the church, so he managed to convert Kiguunda and Kioi also acquired Kiguunda’s one and a half acres of land; leaving Kiguunda and his family economically unstable. This is an example of what colonizers are doing to Kenyans’ territories and worth. They have the country in poverty by controlling the wages and medical benefit of the workers. They also control the resources produced by owning large amounts of land.
Kioi and the colonizers have similar characteristics in which both take advantage of their workers by not paying fair wages. Kioi and the colonizers own most of the banks, hospitals, farms, and fields so they control what is done with that profit. Besides, they send most of the profit to Europe, leaving Kenyans’ economy low. Imperialism is clearly the message of “I Will Marry When I Want. ” Gicaamba, Kiguunda, and Kioi paint a clear picture of imperialism. Gicaamba represented social frustration in most of the Kenyans families.
Kiguunda represented the effect imperialism has in their culture and Kioi representing the oppressor. In my opinion, this play was utilized as a wakeup call for Kenyans. It deliberated information about what was being done by imperialists. This play is calling for action so Kenyans could rebel. I was not surprised why the play did not have a resolution, Kioi conquered Kiguunda’s land and nothing was done about it. In other words, Kenyans are letting Colonizers take over, and they will continue until someone decides to stop it.