Assimilation In Things Fall Apart And Fathers And Children

1417 words - 6 pages

Throughout the world there are many societies and cultures with different customs and beliefs. Despite the vast differences, almost all of these societies demand conformity from those who take part in them. This can clearly be displayed by examining the novels Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and Fathers and Children by Ivan Turgenev. Though these two novels demonstrate extreme differences between both the culture and locations they are set in, they still exemplify a form of assimilation.
Our first novel, Things Fall Apart, is set in the late 1800s in Nigeria and portrays a clash between white Christian colonists and the traditional culture of the local Igbo people. As the novel progresses it becomes a clear example of demanding conformity through cultural adaptation. At the beginning of the novel it is apparent the Igbo people honor and revere acts of strength and violence. Achebe displays this early in the novel through the main character Okonkwo, “He was a man of action, a man of war … On great occasions such as the funeral of a village celebrity he drank palm-wine from his first human head” (12). This displays how, early in this culture, war and violence are not only honored, but celebrated amongst the people.
As Christian Missionaries begin to settle in surrounding tribes, a cultural evolution emerges. Some clans react to these settlers violently, however, Okonkwo’s clan, the Umuofia, see no threat in the settlers and treat them indifferently. The arrival and effect of these settlers is foreshadowed by Achebe in chapter seven. “’Locust are descending!’ was joyfully chanted everywhere … They settled on every tree and on every blade of grass. Mighty tree branches broke away under them” (44). Historically, locusts are used to convey death and destruction, eating away everything they come into contact with, one of the oldest examples being the book of Exodus. The locusts represent the missionaries and the erosion of the native people’s culture. However, the people of Umuofia welcome the locusts as a source of food, not focusing on the damage to the crops. This Parallels their view with the arrival of the missionaries. They only see new opportunities for trade and fail to see the dangers posed to their way of life.
As the missionaries get settled, they begin to convert those who are willing. Though the missionaries do not force Christianity on the tribe, they still enforce their basic principles. For example, in the Igbo culture a set of twins are considered evil spirits and must be abandoned. However, Christians consider this act to be murder and punish the act accordingly (122). The new ideals forced upon the people causes a hybrid form of their old beliefs to develop. Because of this new culture developing with many similarities to Christianity, it becomes less of a change to convert. Cultural assimilation such as this usually goes unnoticed among most of those involved. The reader is only made aware of these drastic...

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