Christianity vs. Animism in Achebe's Things Fall Apart

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Christianity vs. Animism in Achebe's Things Fall Apart

A major aspect of one’s society is religion. Without it, the way people hold themselves accountable would be nonexistent. In addition, many moral standards that exist today are values taken directly from religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Currently, there exists a feud between people who believe in a god, and of those who do not. Eventually those who believe in a higher power will fight against each other. In “Things Fall Apart”, Chinua Achebe brings to light the differences and similarities of Christianity and Animism in order to demonstrate the effects of religion upon one’s society, which is exemplified by Okonkwo and his people. This is noticed in the lives of the Ibo, the missionaries, and Okonkwo himself.

The differences and similarities between Animism and Christianity do not become evident until the arrival of the white men and the missionaries. Due to the differences, the Ibo and the missionaries eventually go from living together peacefully, to being on the brink of war with one another. One such difference is seen in Mr. Smith’s actions towards church members and the members of the clan:

Our Lord used the whip only once in His life –to drive the crowd away from His church. Within a few weeks of his arrival in Umuofia Mr. Smith suspended a young woman from the church for pouring new wine into old bottles. (184 – 185)

In doing this, Mr. Smith showed the Ibo people that Christianity is a ...

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Okonkwo is just another device used by Achebe in “Things Fall Apart” to compare and contrast the religions of Christianity and Animism. The religions have more differences then similarities and because of this, a war was initiated to dispute who had the better culture. Eventually Christianity will prevail, but the significance of the Ibo society and the Animist religion will continue to carry on in memory. One must understand the importance of religion and the effect it has upon one’s life. Another battle has already begun between Christianity and Islam and the religions’ spiritual significance has begun to be overrun by political agendas that will eventually lead to the appeasement of one culture to the other.
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