Professor Zenobia Mistri
ENGL 261: 01
Things Fall Apart
Q1: Consider the opening of Achebe’s Things Fall Apart; evaluate the purpose of the events described. Why does a novel that opens with the celebration of a cultural hero end with such an enormous act of transgression?
“A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.” --Mahatma Gandhi
Words like these are the central truth that lives within all people from every nation and culture. Most cultures, especially the native tribes of Africa, have a strong sense of where they came from and hold an intense loyalty to those who still strive to uphold their values and traditions. Unfortunately, a beginning filled with conquering and war is the story for nearly every African country; as a result most native cultures got broken up and were forced to abandon their customs during the colonization period. Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is a novel that was written to portray how colonialism could so quickly destroy an entire culture and make the most unlikely abandon everything they once stood for and commit the most depraved act. An analysis of some of the novel’s key events will reveal that a leader cannot be resistant to changes within his evolving culture.
In Things Fall Apart, Achebe wasted no time submersing his readers into his fictional African culture. From nearly the first paragraph one can start to get a sense of what the Ibo people valued. Not only did the Ibo tribe have a complex system of laws and customs “where age was well respected, but achievement was revered,” (Achebe 1026), they also had a strong commitment to peaceful interpersonal relations. “As a young man of eighteen he had brought honor to his village by throwing Amalinze the Cat…He had no patience with unsuccessful men. He had no patience with his father,” (Achebe 1023). This description of Okonkwo infers that the people of Ibo tribe stood for honor, success in war, and personal strength...