In Part I of the novel, life in Umuofia is shown at it’s normal level. The reader is shown the different social, cultural, and political structures that govern everyday life in this community. It is for this stretch of the novel that Okonkwo seems the most content. There are no outside forces trying to impose themselves on the Igbo, and the only things the people have to worry about are their own lives and the dealings with other villages. Okonkwo’s biggest issue is wanting to be a better man than Unoka, his disgraced father whom he is ashamed of (Achebe 8). The habitus (Lecture Notes 9/15/16) in which Okonkwo and his family are living is one that has remained largely unchanged for all of Okonkwo’s life, which allows for a comfortable life for this family.
However, this comfort level changes concurrently with the habitus in Umuofia, as during Parts II and III of the novel the white British missionaries and settlers begin to permeate the Igbo culture. The Igbo people, especially Okonkwo, were very comfortable in the way of life they had previously lived. With these outsiders coming in and colonizing in the Igbo ar...
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... of life more and more.
It is in this climax that Achebe truly shows how dangerously effective globalization and colonization can be on a native people. The Umuofian villagers were all ready to bring war and retribution to another tribe for a murder in Part I of the novel, as their village was known to be “feared by all its neighbors” (Achebe 11). However, after being indoctrinated with the British culture over a span of time, these villagers show no such reason to be feared when Okonkwo expects them to raise up against what is a much larger threat to their way of life. This leads to the eventual suicide of Okonkwo, which I believe is meant to represent the finality with which globalization like this operates. Okonkwo symbolized the Igbo people’s last ties to their true old way of life, and with his death so died any hopes of stopping the parasitic British culture.
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