Things Fall Apart: An Analysis

Things Fall Apart: An Analysis

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Things Fall Apart: An Analysis

The culture of the Umuofia society before the colonial infiltration, may be
hard to understand but we are forced by Achebe to realize it has traditions and
customs that make it work. Although, looking at it from our Judaeo-Christian
point of view we may be appalled by some of their practices. We also have to
realize that they have strengths.
Things Fall apart is the idea of balance and interdependence, earth and sky,
individual and community, man and woman or different perspectives on the same
situation. The central image of this balance is contained in the Ibo concept of
"chi," which occurs throughout the novel. A persons "chi" is their destiny, his
inner self, "you wouldn't challenge your "chi" to a wrestling match," as did
Okonkwo when he assisted in the killing of Ikemefuna, whom he loved and who
called him father. Okonkwo sins not only against the earth goddess, protector
of family relations, but also against his inner most feelings or his "chi." Any
bad luck that occurs, people of this culture would say that you have a bad
Okonkwo's destiny is marked by bad luck, one reason may be that he is so
driven by the fear of resembling his father that he struggles to repress part of
his personality with predictably afflicted results.
This was a society where a man was judged by his own achievement and not
that of his fathers. Yams were the primary crop of Umuofia. A sign of
manliness was if you could farm yams to feed your family. Okonkwo is respected
because of his hard work.
The complex patterns of Umuofia's economic and social customs materialize
throughout this novel as we see Okonkwo compelled to rid himself of any
similarities that his father had. Unoka had no titles, was lazy and when he died
was greatly in debt.
Some may wonder how a society like the Ibo's functioned, how they enforce

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its laws with no kings, no organized police force, and no standing army. Indeed
this is something our "modern" culture could study. These things were
accomplished through the functions of the masked spirits.
The Egwugwu, represents the village's highest spiritual and judicial
authority. The masked spirits are believed to represent their ancestors. This
supports the myth "The land of the living was not far removed from the domain of
the ancestors." There was a coming and
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