Theme Of European Colonialism In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

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The poem The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats provides the inspiration for the title of one of the most celebrated African novels, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, in the lines “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; /Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”(2-4). Miscommunication and cultural ignorance have often been the basis of violence and conflict. This is certainly the case in Things Fall Apart, which explores the impact of European colonization of the Ibo people in modern day Nigeria. The novel revolves around its protagonist, Okonkwo, a powerful leader in his clan who eventually succumbs to suicide because he is unable to adjust to the changes to society that the Europeans brought. In Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart, …show more content…
Throughout the novel, Okonkwo’s inner fear of becoming like his father, an indebted musician considered a failure in Ibo society, propelled him to be hyper-masculine, strong, and violent. He used his accomplishments as a coping mechanism for these fears, and “Whenever the thought of his father’s weakness and failure troubled him he expelled it by thinking about his own strength and success” (Achebe 66). Undoubtedly, Okonkwo had a multitude of achievements, such as being a renowned wrestler and warrior, being a leader in his village, and having a large family. He prided himself on these feats and he was respected in his society because of his success. Part of the reason he was so driven to succeed was to prove that he would not become a “failure” like his father. While Okonkwo exemplified the characteristics of success and masculinity in Ibo society, his father represented the complete opposite. Unoka, Okonkwo’s father, did not enjoy fighting, and he was considered lazy because instead of working for his money, he borrowed money from his neighbors and never paid them back. However, he was a wise and eloquent speaker and found great joy in playing the flute. These contrasting characters act as foils for the other, and Okonkwo’s actions throughout the novel are often propelled by his fear of becoming “weak” like his father. However, Okonkwo’s sense of masculinity and strength, which drew on traditional Ibo cultural values as well as his own fears of having any similarities to his father, are quickly put to the test when Christian missionaries from Europe arrive. He is dealt a personal blow when his eldest son, Nwoye, decides to convert to Christianity, and laments that “He was a flaming fire. How then could he have begotten a son like Nwoye, degenerate and effeminate?” (Achebe 153). Obviously, Okonkwo feels that Christianity and those who converted to it

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