There are different themes in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall apart one of the major themes is religion. There are many differences between the missionaries’ beliefs and the tribes, or clan’s beliefs. They both have different ideas on who the “true” God is. It’s hard for the tribe to adjust to the ways of the missionaries because they have only been aware of their own culture & tradition. Missionaries told the Ibo tribe that they worshipped false gods, gods of wood and stone. They don’t even acknowledge that this too is a successful community, which works well under its method of religious aw.
They take it upon themselves to change the religion or “make it civilized”, not respecting the fact that maybe the villagers were already content with what they had. The missionaries believe that there was only one god ; this god was the creator of everything, men women etc. It was believed that when a person dies they would all have to go before him on Judgment day and if you worshiped “fake gods” made of stone then you would be thrown into the fire ; burned. They bury the body of the deceased in the ground, but believe their soul goes up to heaven if they have ccepted the lord in their heart.
The missionaries believe that Christianity is the only right religion; why else would they be so intent on conversion and spreading the word of Jesus Christ? This creates conflict with the tribe, as the Clan are content with their way of life and do not wish to change. The tribe has a different idea where the missionaries believe in one god, the Ibo tribe worships various gods. The main god is Chukwu because he made other gods and the world. Two of their gods are animate, the sacred python ; the Oracle of the Hills, they are in the form of a woman ; a eptile.
This illustrates another difference between the two religions as the Christian’s god is inanimate. (He cannot be seen but exists only in spirit. ) The tribe had lived for thousands of years in an untouched and inviolate existence. It is difficult for the tribe to adjust, as their ways are all they have ever known. If you have lived a specific way your whole life, you find it hard to adjust to sudden dramatic changes. The arrival of the missionaries and the conversion of many to the Christian faith make it very difficult for some to cope with.
Especially those who choose not to onvert, and had to watch as their friends/family takes a different path. The difficulty to adjust is expressed in the situation with Okonkwo. The villagers barely understood the Christian faith, and didn’t know who these white men were. When the missionaries firstly arrived in IJmofia, the clansman had the evil intention of allowing the ‘spirits’ of the Evil Forest, to kill them. And thus, they told them to rest and stay within the Evil Forest. As mentioned earlier on in the novel, the Evil Forest was greatly feared by all, as religion sparked off the fear in them.
It was said that they wouldn’t ast 28 days. However, after a month, the missionaries were perfectly fine. This caused some minor doubt within the clansman, whether their religion is reliable or not. At that exact same time, the missionaries were preaching the clansman, and they had the church in place, so as to allow the followers to pray there. After managing to win a few hearts, the missionaries continued their preaching activities, and at the exact same time, they were coming down hard on the fake’ religion that they believed in.
Becoming aware of the fact that missionaries had indeed broken the traditional heir religion would take over their God. Moreover, the gods of the village were aimed to gather good cultivation, and achieve a good number of blessings to the family. However, the white missionaries spoke of their God, and they spoke of it in a better voice. This is a reason why they managed to win the hearts of several supporters. Okonkwo being a firm believer of his culture tried to resist the change that was brought in. However, he alone did not have the chance to persuade his clan as he has been in exile for seven years.
As the white men have brought in trading store ere very much in the people’s eyes and minds. The clan’s culture has changed and so Okonkwo’s plans for his return has failed. Eventually he lost everything that he has. He could not change thus he is stuck within struggle for power. Okonkwo could not lead his clan to defend against the white men and felt that it is useless for him to stay in this world. This in turn has a huge affect on Okonkwo & Nwoye’s relationship. : Nwoye is constantly in the shadow of his dad Okonkwo’s success and social standing within the clan, and Okonkwo constantly has high expectations for
Nwoye, for he wants him to be as successful as he currently is, and not following in the footsteps of Okonkwo’s father, Unoka. This creates a negative impact on Nwoye’s attitude towards Okonkwo. When Christianity is introduced to the clan, Nwoye finds hope and faith within the religion, and becomes part of the converts. When Okonkwo lost his son to a new religion, and ended up departing the remaining members of his family by suicide the family and clan began to fall apart even more. Okonkwo’s tribe fell apart because of the introduction of a new religion, and more people shifting their belief to the new religion.
With some clan members not following the same religion, it showed that the tribe had fallen apart. Besides, they accepted the new religion at the start, and that was the main cause of them falling apart. His suicide was a major part of his family falling apart as he is the head, leader, figure of authority, and commander of the family. Without him, the family has no one to lead them, no one to keep them together. They may Just end up splitting ways and returning to their own tribes. Another theme that plays a huge role is gender.
As in commonly-recognized modern gender roles, men were supposed to be active and ggressive, while women were expected to be obedient and passive. This is reflected even in the Igbo ways of farming. Only men were allowed to grow yams, and a man’s wealth was determined based on his land for planting, his yams, and his stores of seed yams for planting in the next season; therefore, the yam was seen as a symbol of power and manhood. Though the women in the Ibo culture are critical to the need for bearing sons to carry on the family name, women have little to no value on their own.
Despite the fact that a man must be rich enough to purchase his wife, once arried, the man has control of everything property and even the children. From the perspective of the Ibo tribe, the man has to prove his worthiness to the bride’s family in order to receive the honor of caring for his bride. Nevertheless, the Ibo men did not hesitate to reprimand their wives, even using corporal punishment if deemed necessary. Gender differentiation is also seen in Igbo classification of crimes. The narrator of Things Fall Apart states that “The crime [of killing Ezeudu’s son] was of two kinds, male and female.
Okonkwo had committed the female, because it had een inadvertent. He could return to the clan after seven years. ” Okonkwo fled to the explains this to Okonkwo: “It is true that a child belongs to his father. But when the father beats his child, it seeks sympathy in its mother’s hut. A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness, he finds refuge in his motherland. Your mother is there to protect you. She is buried there. And that is why we say that mother is supreme. ” We also see women in their role as educators of their children.
The education process is done in art through the ritual of storytelling. It is through storytelling that the children learn important lessons about the human condition, are taught the Ibo creation myths, such as the birds and the tortoise story, and master the art of communicating by retelling the stories themselves. As stated earlier in the novel, “Among Ibo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten” . The Ibo women are playing a significant role in the facilitation of this learning, which is vital to their children’s ability to function within the Ibo culture.
The role of women in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart may appear to unfairly limited in terms of their authority and power. Upon delving beneath this deceiving surface, one can see that the women of the clan hold some very powerful positions: spiritually as the priestess, symbolically as the earth goddess, and literally as the nurturers of the Ibo people, the caretakers of the yam crops and the mothers and educators of the Ibo children. The novel also strongly contrasts women with the hyper-masculine Okonkwo, who warns himself not to “become like a shivering old oman and relates negatively to his effeminate father Unoka and oldest son Nwoye.
Okonkwo is constantly evaluating his own masculinity, as Judged by his ability to grow a sufficient quantity of yams to feed his family. He is also obsessed with status, an area in which title-less men are derisively thought of as women. In this way, women, in their very maligned femininity, are crucial to the development of Achebe’s setting, plot, and character. As the tribal structure is lost, men become fearful women in the face of the intruding Europeans, and women become bold men, leaving their homes nd husbands.
Okonkwo looks back to the “days when men were men”, and gender roles were immutable. In his view, the European way of living imposed on the Ibo has led to a terrible leveling. But women under a European system of that time period were in fact not liberated at all. The same way Things Fall Apart saw them coddled and accepted by the warm and fuzzy missionary Christianity, upper-class women in Joseph Conrad’s England were put on a pedestal of weakness and vulnerability. Men determined to protect them from the real world denied them the opportunity to be eal people.