It is easy for one, who belongs to one community, to degrade and look down upon an outside, distant culture. One culture’s traditions, when compared to those of a separate culture, can often seem irrelevant and remote. When two separate communities come in contact and there is a clash in customs, a disruption to normalcy and former traditions is usually inevitable. In Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe explores a familiar scenario in African culture: being at the hands of European imperialism. Although he is an African author writing about British imperialism in Africa, Achebe uses his writing not to condemn the actions of one particular group, but rather to reveal that there is no society or culture without its imperfections.
Achebe makes the argument that although religion can have its unique benefits and beauty, it is a society’s unwillingness to stray from tradition that can make it vulnerable to downfall. Achebe associates pre-imperialized Umuofia, the fictional Nigerian tribe, with peace: “And in fairness to Umuofia it should be recorded that it never went to war unless its case was clear and just and was accepted as such by its Oracle -- the Oracle of the Hills and the Caves” (12). Religion dominates Igbo society, regulating numerous components of society. The villagers’ strict interpretation of their religion, specifically the Oracle, allow the village to keep peace at least temporarily. The people of Umuofia participate in rituals to honor their ancestors, “Near the barn was a small house, the “medicine house” or shrine where Okonkwo kept the wooden symbols of his personal god and of his ancestral spirits. He worshipped them with sacrifices of kola nut, food and palm-wine, and offered prayers to the...
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...ety’s intentions, moral or otherwise, when two societies with two completely different social systems and customs merge, conflict is inherent. Chinua Achebe’s classic novel Things Fall Apart proves no different. Achebe explores how differences in customs can become catalysts for chaos and turmoil, specifically in situations of imperialism, when one community finds itself at the hands of another, who usually looks to spread its way of life and traditions. The novel captures tribal life prior to the arrival of the white man, and shows how traditions break down as a result. That said, Achebe in no way condemns nor praises the behavior of one group more than he does the other. In fact, Achebe points out flaws in Igbo society before even introducing the threat of imperialism. Achebe uses his writing to reveal that there is no society or culture without its imperfections.
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