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Things Fall Apart Essay

858 words - 4 pages

In the novel, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, a cultural clash between Ibo culture and Western culture was assessed through fictional literature. Several characters reacted to this in their unique ways, either by accepting or rejecting European beliefs. However, the character Okonkwo, a proud, strong and well respected warrior in the Igbo Society had a significant reaction to the new culture. When the new, western culture comes to Igbo society, Okonkwo, of Clan Umuofia, responds by using violence as the only choice. This decision carried dire consequences, and lead to Oknonkwo’s death.
Okonkwo’s violent reaction included the hatred of Christians, the new religion had challenged everything Okonkwo had believed in. Okonkwo was a strict traditionalist, valuing strength and despising anything he proclaimed as “soft”. The Europeans had promoted “soft ideas”. Prior to Okonkwo’s return from exile, for he had accidently killed a fellow clansman, an insult to his earth god, Europeans had arrived and they began to introduce their religion, Christianity, their culture and their government, while denouncing the traditional Igbo ideas. A church was constructed, a settlement had been created, and European government began to succeed Igbo government. Okonkwo violently questions his son, Nwoye, who Okonkwo saw “among the Christians”. (Achebe,151). Nwoye was “gripped by the neck” when his father, Okonkwo had been “overcome with fury”, he was repetitively asked “where have you been?” Okonkwo then added “Before I kill you” (Achebe, 151). Okonkwo is prevented from killing his son due to his uncle, Uchendu’s, objections, implying Okonkwo is “mad”. Later that day, Okonkwo is still in fury as he “felt the strong desire to take up his machete, go to the church and wipe out the entire vile and miscreant gang [Christians]”. (Achebe, 152). Through the dialogue he has with his son and through his murderous fantasies, Okonkwo has responded to the new culture with much aggression and hatred. He attacks his own son, he fights with his uncle and he is driven by rage to launch genocide against the Christians.
Okonkwo’s reaction to new culture also included abandoning diplomacy and slaughtering Europeans and missionaries. Okonkwo declared that his people should not “reason like cowards” (Achebe, 159), he questions why his people have “lost the will to fight” (Achebe, 175), and declares that his people “must fight these men [Europeans] and drive them from the land.” (Achebe, 176). Okonkwo later murders a European messenger with a machete, “the messenger crouch to avoid the...

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