Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Essay

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Essay

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In the book, Things Fall Apart, there are a couple of folktales that are extended throughout the book. These folktales contributes to and comments on the central narrative of the story. Animals and folktales were important to the Igbo people. They used animals in fables and stories to demonstrate their beliefs and rituals. With all rituals, animals and symbols play a crucial role in Igbo society. The fable of the Tortoise and the Birds has uncanny similarities with Okonkwo and his rise and fall. The tortoise’s strength and cunningness eventually gets to be too much, which ends up crushing him. And Okonkwo’s inability to adapt to change leads to his demise. Both the tortoise and Okonkwo’s seek to be strong in society and they both want to be known as important. That is why I believe that the fable, The Tortoise and the Birds, is the closest fable to the central narrative of the story.
The story starts out saying how all the birds in the sky were invited to a feast that would be held in the sky. The birds painted themselves and got ready for the event. The tortoise notices what was happening with be birds because he was very wise and deceitful, or as the book says, “he was full of cunning.” (Achebe 96) The tortoise was hungry and had not eaten in a long time, so the tortoise in his deceitful ways, went to ask the birds if he could join them in the sky. The birds answered, “We know you too well…you are full of cunning and you are ungrateful. If we allow you to come with us you will soon begin your mischief.” (97)
The birds have obviously had a run in with the tortoise in the past and there was no way they would trust him. The tortoise basically told the birds that he has changed and he is not like he used to be. The ...


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...would also do whatever he could to not show any sign of weakness. Okonkwo feared weakness and he would do whatever it takes to maintain his power. He wanted to look strong to society and the tortoise was just as strong. In the end the tortoise fell and his strength and wisdom could not keep him from breaking his shell. Just like Okonkwo, he could not use his strength to stop the white man.
The fable, the Tortoise and the Birds, are very similar to the central narrative in the book, Things Fall Apart. Both Okonkwo and the tortoise come to their demise because their strength cannot keep them alive. They both are looking for high importance in society and they both want to feel accomplished. The change in society is just too big for Okonkwo and the Tortoise was not “cunning” enough. They both are very similar in character, and that is why I chose that fable.


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