Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a story about personal beliefs and customs, and also a story about conflict. There is struggle between family, culture, and the religion of the Ibo, which is all brought on by a difference in personal beliefs and customs of the Igbo and the British. There are also strong opinions of the main character, Okonkwo. We are then introduced to the views of his village, Umuofia. We see how things fall apart when these beliefs and customs are confronted by those of the white missionaries.
The authors full name is, Albert Chinualumogu Achebe also known as Chinua, he was born on November 16, 1930 in Ogidi, Nigeria. He is a product of both native and European cultures. This has a great effect on the telling of the story. He attended Government College in Umuahia from 1944 to 1947 and University College in Ibadan from 1948 to 1953. He then received a B.A. from London University in 1953 and studied broadcasting at the British Broadcasting Corp. in London in 1956. He joined the Biafran Ministry of Information and represented Biafra as a diplomat. Since then, he has taught variously at the universities of Nigeria, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart partly in response to what he saw as inaccurate characterizations of Africa and Africans by British authors. The book was published in 1958, he was 28 years old at the time. It was very successful and has sold over 2,000,000 copies, and has been translated into thirty languages. He has written a total of fifteen different books in his lifetime. He became a political activist in the late 1960's early 1970's.
Thirty years ago Chinua Achebe was one of the founders of this new style of literature, and over the years many critics have come to consider him the finest of the Nigerian novelists. His achievement, however, has not been limited to his continent. He is considered by many to be one of the best novelists now writing in the English language. In recent decades he has held a succession of teaching posts, notably a professorship at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.
In Thing Fall Apart, we see a conflict early in the story between Okonkwo and his father, Unoka. "Okonkwo was ruled by one passion - to hate everything that his father Unoka had loved. One of those things was gentleness a...
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...y had let the other messenger escape. They had broken into tumult instead of action" (Achebe 205). Everything he lived for and believed in was going to be taken away by the white men. They had control over everything. He did not want to see that happen so he took his own life. Yet, this is ironic because, in doing so, he was committing an act which was considered one of the worst actions a member could do in the Ibo society. Throughout the story we see how strong Okonkwo's personal beliefs were and how much they meant to him. Beliefs, both personal and those of the society someone is born into, play a major role in their life. This story is an example of what happens when those beliefs are taken away and others are forced upon a person. Everyone needs to believe in something, and things fall apart when they no longer can.
When he tells the story with an understanding and personal experiences in both cultures. He does not portray the African culture and their beliefs as barbaric. He simply tells it as it is, and how things happened. It is the same with the white men. Chinua Achebe realized that neither of the cultures were bad, but they simply had a difference in beliefs.
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