Chinua Achebe 's Things Fall Apart And The Film Sugar Cane Alley Essay

Chinua Achebe 's Things Fall Apart And The Film Sugar Cane Alley Essay

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The events of Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart and the film Sugar Cane Alley detail the lives of a fictionalized Nigerian village and sugar cane harvesters in remote Martinique, respectively, during similar time periods of the 1900s. Both works contain explicit references to Christianity, and how the imposition of religion and white culture have negatively affected the African characters. European religious practice was used as a means of pacifying as well as terrifying the Umuofian people and the inhabitants of Sugar Cane Valley.

European hegemony was marked by a shift from traditional aspects of enslavement and settler colonialism to an “industrial” colonialism in the late 1800s. As factories and machinery rose in prevalence, it was quickly realized that a means of supporting their industry and workers could be found elsewhere than Europe. These lands were populated by people considered by their white oppressors to be “savages”, who required formalized leadership and a strict regime in order for Europe to benefit from the land’s resources. The British Empire set their sights on infiltrating fringe societies in Africa and the French tightened their grip on the black population of Martinique. One of the main components in maintaining European society was religion, therefore it is fitting that Christianity was a means of exerting control over colonies in Africa and the Americas in the early 1900s.

Before the arrival of the missionaries in Things Fall Apart, the village Umuofia is “powerful in war and magic, and its priests and medicine men [are] feared in all the surrounding country” (Achebe, 11). It is made clear at the beginning of the novel that Umuofia is, in essence, a cultural hub with the gr...


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Following events similar to those described in Things Fall Apart, the Nigerian region of Africa became a primary source for palm oil production. Palm oil was used as lubricant in European machinery and would become a primary ingredient in many European products. Similarly, sugar production in Martinique as well as other islands throughout the Americas would help feed and sustain European workers. Colonialism in Africa and the Americas forced Africans to become dependent on Europe for meager income and dismal survival. Christianity paradoxically served as a both a source of hope and a means of control. Things Fall Apart and Sugar Cane Alley are fictional works depicting the many atrocities committed by Europeans to oppressed Africans, but their stories are based in deep and unfortunate truths about the tumultuous relationship between the two lands.

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