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The Effect Of White Missionaries On An African Tribe In Things Fall Apart By Achebe

1795 words - 7 pages

The Effect of White Missionaries on an African Tribe in Things Fall Apart by Achebe

In the book “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, we see the effect the white missionaries had on an African tribe and the antihero Okonkwo. The main character Okonkwo is a tragic hero. Achebe depicts Okonkwo as a Shakespearean hero with a tragic flaw, that tragic flaw is the fact that he will do anything in his power not to be a weak man like his father Unoka. Okonkwo did what he did because he hated his father and would do anything in his power to be the exact opposite of his father.
Unoka is Okonkwo’s father, he is a very lazy man and has amassed many debts. Okonkwo is very ashamed of Unoka and seems to hate him very much. Achebe states that, “When Unoka died he had taken no title at all and he was heavily in debt. Any wonder then that his son Okonkwo was ashamed of him? Fortunately, among these people a man was judged according to his worth and not the worth of his father.” Okonkwo was a strong man who was very proud and thought that any show of weakness would make him less than a man.
To understand Okonkwo let us look at Ibo society. We see the Ibo way of life before the change occurs and the way they live their life after. The main thing that happens after the arrival of the missionaries is that the tribe falls apart. The main reason for this is the coming of the missionaries, who bring with them new ways of life, and mostly better ways of life. Achebe tries to show us that the missionaries showed people who were hurt by the beliefs of the tribe that this did not have to go on in their religion, and that's the main reason why people switched to their religion. Achebe shows us that the tribe had many wrong beliefs before the missionaries came. They believed that twins are evil and should be thrown away immediately, they believed that sacrifice is a good way to bring peace and they had many other beliefs that do not look good to us today but looked perfectly regular to them. When the missionaries came to their land, people hated them, but when they started getting people to go their way, the Ibo started to fall apart.
The missionaries came and told people, like women whose twins were left to die in the forest, that they don't have to kill their children the next time they have twins if they join them and their religion. This made many people think that they took the evil people out of the tribe but in fact they were gaining power by getting a lot of people to follow them. For example, there was a girl named Nneka who had, several times, given birth to twins who were thrown away. Achebe says, Nneka had had four previous pregnancies and childbirths. But each time she had borne twins, and they had been immediately thrown away. Her husband and his family were already becoming highly critical of such a woman and were not unduly perturbed when they found out she had fled to join the Christians. It was a good riddance. This shows us the...

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