Essay on Chinua Achebe 's Things Fall Apart

Essay on Chinua Achebe 's Things Fall Apart

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“That is what chills your spine, when you read an account of a suicide: not the frail corpse hanging from the window bars, but what happened inside that heart immediately before (Simone de Beauvoir).” Questions arise about Okonkwo’s suicide while reading Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart; Did Okonkwo take the coward 's way out, or was it an act of self-assertion? And why did Okonkwo’s death show a certain degree of irony?
In order to make an educated decision, one must first understand what was happening at the time when Okonkwo hung himself. To begin with, European missionaries moved in and started the spread of Christianity. In order to prorogate the word of their God, they first denounced all of the Ibo’s God’s as dead. This theoretic ruse proves to be set too early, and the Ibo fight against their new intruders. The European’s, however, are not deterred, and boldly set up a church and government in the Evil Forest. More importantly, the Osu, or the outcasts of the Mbanta, are easily persuaded to join the church and convert to Christianity because they no longer belong to their tribe; this begins the true spread of Christianity.
With this in mind, Okonkwo prided himself on the culture of the Ibo and upholding their traditions. An example of this is demonstrated when Okonkwo said “An Umuofia man does not refuse a call,” he said. “He may refuse to do what he is asked; he does not refuse to be asked (Achebe 136).” Okonkwo, by saying this, illustrates some of the qualities that the Umuofia man prides himself on – generosity and willingness to listen. This is only the tip of the iceberg; in fact, Okonkwo is so deeply rooted in the traditions of his culture that ultimately it leads to his death. He believes that if tradition...


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In conclusion, Okonkwo’s death was much more than just a suicide. He died for the cause that he believed in, his culture and traditions. Slowly, more and more of his people, converted to Christianity, and his culture was lost. In an act of self-assertion, Okonkwo hung himself; he was just not able to bring himself to leave behind that which he had always known. Similarly, Hitler also killed himself in an act of self-assertion. He was aware that the Russian and the Allies of WW2 were closing in, and instead of giving up and joining, he committed suicide. Another facet that is often overlooked is the irony of Okonkwo’s death and how this irony justifies his death. The newly converted Christians follow their old traditions of dealing with a suicide. This means that Okonkwo did not die for nothing; the culture that he hung himself for still existed in some way.

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