Ibo Culture in Things Fall Apart
In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, “a parallel between [the main character] Okonkwo’s personal tragedy and colonialism’s tragic destruction of native African cultures” is depicted. The novel is set in the mid to late 1800s in Nigeria. In history, this is the time the Christian missionaries came into Nigeria to convert the native tribes (“Things Fall Apart,” Literature 360). The novel is set in the Ibo* village of Umuofia (Achebe 3). The main character, Okonkwo, accidentally kills a clansman’s son. This is a crime against the earth goddess. For his punishment, he will be exiled for seven years (Achebe 124). When Okonkwo returns to his village after his exile, he finds that most of the village people have converted Christianity. Okonkwo eventually kills himself because of the Christianity (Achebe 208). As the events in the novel unfold, Achebe accurately depicts the culture of the Ibo people through the government, language, social structure, values, and religious beliefs.
Achebe wanted to write a novel to accurately depict the African culture. He did not like the “distorted portrayals of Africa in European novels,” especially in Joyce Cory’s Mister Johnson (“Things Fall Apart,” Literature 360). As a child Achebe spoke the Ibo language, but he was raised in a Christian home (“Things Fall Apart,” Literature 360). Because he did not participate in the native Ibo traditions, he “picked up here and there [on the Ibo ways]. There was no research in the library” (“Things Fall Apart,” Literature 364). Achebe used the knowledge he gained to “weave together history and fiction” (“Things Fall Apart,” Novels 263) into a novel that he believes accurately depicts traditional Ibo life before and after the arrival of the Christians missionaries (Killam 19).
In the traditional Ibo tribe, according to an essay by Diana Akers Rhoads, the government is democratic. Everybody has a chance to establish themselves. One’s father...