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On Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe: What aspects of pre-colonial Igbo culture does Achebe seem to question or criti - Essay Example

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Date Things Fall Apart is the story of a society at a crossroads between the traditional way of life, and modernity, as represented by the coming of the white man and the colonial government. It is the story of Okonkwo, the main character, who struggles to attain his position in society and once he achieves it, this position comes to be threatened by the coming of the colonial government…
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Essay on Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe: What aspects of pre-colonial Igbo culture does Achebe seem to question or criti
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On Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe: What aspects of pre-colonial Igbo culture does Achebe seem to question or criti

Among the most prominent of the characters in this novel is Okonkwo, whose personality can be said to be thoroughly masculine and who is used as an example from which all the other men in Umuofia are defined. There are instances throughout the novel where Okonkwo is described as doing things that one would associate with masculinity. He is hardworking and ambitious, whose aim is to build his reputation to the highest level that can be attained in his society. While this is the case, he seems to have an extremely difficult relationship with his son, Nwoye, whom he believes not to be manly enough. Okonkwo is, throughout the novel, seen to treat his son quite harshly, even in very trivial situations. This creates a situation where the relationship between these two is extremely strained and a rift between them cannot be filled. As a result, Nwoye eventually chooses to leave his father’s home and join the missionaries, where he eventually comes to find peace. In this case, Achebe seems to be criticizing the aloof nature of Okonkwo in raising his son, believing that if he shows any affection for Nwoye, then the boy will end up being weak and effeminate. Achebe criticizes the Igbo practice of killing of hostages from another village in revenge in a situation where a person from the said village has taken a life. He uses the case of Ikemefuna to show his disapproval since this boy was brought to Umuofia as a hostage, where he was put in the charge of Okonkwo. Ikemefuna becomes a part of Okonkwo’s household and is in fact, treated, as an older brother by the latter’s children. However, there comes a time when the Oracle declares that Ikemefuna has to be put to death in revenge for the killing of an Umuofian years earlier. Okonkwo is the one who gives the deathblow with his matchet despite the fact that he had grown extremely fond of the boy. He kills Ikemefuna not because he has to, but because of the fact that he does not want to be seen as weak by his peers. Okonkwo later feels disturbed by this action and goes to speak to his best friend Obierika, who, ever the voice of reason in the novel, tells him that he should not have participated in the killing of Ikemefuna. Obierika further reveals that he himself did not participate in the putting to death of Ikemefuna, and this can be said to be Achebe’s way of showing his disapproval of the practice. In Things Fall Apart, violence and a quick temper are associated with masculinity and it is something that is associated to all the men within the society. The most prominent of these is Okonkwo, who, despite his being a kindhearted man; he displays his manly authority by ruling his household with a heavy hand, often beating his wives whenever they do anything to offend him (Achebe 24). He is also seen to have a particularly bad temper as seen when he almost shoots Ekwefi after she insults his pride. In addition, whereas the other men of Umuofia choose to submit to colonial rule, Okonkwo chooses to retain the past ideals of his society by remaining violent. This eventually leads to a point when he hacks a colonial officer to death with a machete, thinking that this will lead to the men of Umuofia rising against colonial rule. When this does not happen, ... Read More
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