Symbolism In Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe

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“Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe is based on the post-colonial era of Africa, at the turn of the 19th century. The novel follows the life of an Ibo village in Nigeria, called Umuofia. In the beginning there is a sense of unity and togetherness. In the ending, there is a sense of defeat, anger and hate. Achebe explores the conflict between the arrival of the Europeans and the Umuofian natives. The novel describes the rise and fall of Ibo culture, customs and traditions due to the influence of white colonisation. The highest points of Umuofia come from their bravery and proverbs. The lowest points in their timeline come from the unmasking of the egwugwu and their weakened society. Umuofia is known to be powerful and feared among their neighbouring…show more content…
Enoch, a new Christian convert had committed a sin in the Ibo community. He had unmasked an egwugwu, which was considered to be one of the greatest crimes a clansman could commit. As a result, the other egwugwu surrounded him to shield him away from the public. The writer employs the symbolism of the mask to show the disintegration of the clan. Enoch “tore off his mask,” which caused the other egwugwu to shield the “descreated companion”. Symbolically, they represent the spirit of the clan. This includes culture, independence and honour. The unmasking of the egwugwu symbolises the removal of the clan’s spirit. It shows evidence of disrespect towards the clan by the white man and people who have abandoned the Ibo society. As people convert to Christianity and move away from the clan, they have been easily influenced to dismiss the ways of the clan. This leads to a breakdown in the Umuofian clan and their traditional beliefs. I believe that the introduction of Christianity has caused people to question and go against what was once a part of their culture. This has led to an increasing number of converts, which has weakened the Ibo…show more content…
Obierka feels as if it is too late for Umuofians to fight the white man. Due to the conversions of some of the Umuofians and clansmen, the white man has caused the clan to split apart. This weakens their ability to fight against the white man. The writer employs metaphor to illustrate the tragic reality of the Umuofians. “He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart. The things that worked for them such as religion, culture and beliefs, are seen as wrong in the white man’s eye. This causes those who were questioning the Ibo religion to convert to Christianity, the religion that seems right to them. The Umuofians has even lost the spirit of their war-like nature. As a result, the white man has caused a breakdown in the Ibo society. This suggests that the implementations of the white man did not work for the Umuofians’ society, but worked for the white man’s benefit. It saddens me to see how a culture with so much strength and unity broke down due to the influence of the Europeans’
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