Our first novel, Things Fall Apart, is set in the late 1800s in Nigeria and portrays a clash between white Christian colonists and the traditional culture of the local Igbo people. As the novel progresses it becomes a clear example of demanding conformity through cultural adaptation. At the beginning of the novel it is apparent the Igbo people honor and revere acts of strength and violence. Achebe displays this early in the novel through the main character Okonkwo, “He was a man of action, a man of war … On great occasions such as the funeral of a village celebrity he drank palm-wine from his first human head” (12). This displays how, early in this culture, war and violence are not only honored, but celebrated amongst the people.
As Christian Missionaries begin to settle in surrounding tribes, a cultural evolution emerges. Some clans react to these settlers violently, however, Okonkwo’s clan, the Umuofia, see no threat in the settlers and treat them indifferently. The arrival and effect of these settlers is foreshadowed by Achebe in chapter seven. “’Locust are descending!’ was joyfully chanted everywhere … They settled on every tree and on every blade of grass. Mighty tree branches broke away under them” (44). Historically, locusts...
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...ust as his father did.
These works demonstrate and criticize the effects of society on those who refuse to conform. Though most do not lose their life by simply refusing to accept a culture or belief system, it is still common that they are ostracized by society. This separation takes a constant social and emotional toll on the individual, forcing them to either re-evaluate their customs and beliefs or find a place in which these beliefs are accepted. Though there are millions of tribes, religions, and cultures throughout the world, each and every society has a criteria which defines it. This criterion puts demands upon members that require them to conform or be rejected.
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor Books, 1994.
Turgenev, Ivan. Fathers and Children. Trans. Michael R Katz. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1994.
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