Proverbs In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

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Chinua Achebe’s, “Things Fall Apart,” (published by William Heinemann Ltd., 1958) is filled with proverbs throughout his text in relation to traditional life in Umuofia as well as the colonization of Umuofia. Proverbs are used throughout Umuofia and the people of Nigeria in which “Things Fall Apart” takes place, are often used to give a simplified general truth or advice that may reflect on the situation or person in the text. Achebe highlights the significance proverbs to Umoufia culture, how colonization destroys culture, and why an English text does more to convey the theme than being in the Igbo language.
Achebe’s, “Things Fall Apart,” (published by William Heinemann Ltd., 1958) tells the story of Okonkwo, a respected warrior in the
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Some of the traditions and customs reflected in the proverbs deal with respecting elders, how to be humble, and expectations for men in their society. “Proverbs are the palm-oil which words are eaten” (Achebe, 3) for example is a proverb that not only expresses the importance of proverbs in Umoufia culture but also ties in palm-oil, an key substance in Umoufia society. Palm-oil is oil made from palms that is used in not only cooking and for food but is a fuel for lamps. In that, this proverb is stating that proverbs sustain tradition as well as life in the clan through the gift of knowledge and wisdom. Proverbs are also a vehicle for conversation, which the custom in Umoufia is to not rush the conversation along with being respectful and gracious to whom you are speaking to regardless of elder or peer. The Umoufia clan is an agricultural society that values heavily on pleasing the gods and veneration of ancestors of the clan, ancestors and elders are who pass on the traditions of the clan and revered for their understanding and insight which a reflected in the proverbs that are common place in everyday conversation. “A man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own” (Achebe, 14) is a proverb that greatly reflects the custom that it is important for a man to be respectful and humble if he wishes to be successful in life. It …show more content…
The culture and tradition of Umoufia rely heavily on the nature based gods that they worship in hopes of gaining protection from weather, bad omens, and bountiful crops. This creates conflict with the white Christian missionary’s concept of one almighty god. Mr. Brown, one of the white missionaries in Umoufia, although attempts to be respectful, is abhorrent to the fact the people of Umoufia are polytheistic as well as certain customs and traditions they uphold. Mr. Brown utilizes a translator to pass the word of god but the translator is from a different tribe and speaks a different dialect than the people of Umoufia. This highlights a change in the traditions and culture of Umoufia in that they are beginning to be colonized not only by a white man, but a white man utilizing a man from a tribe whose language is almost foreign. As Mr. Brown begins to achieve more converts and church goers, Umoufia begins to experience a cold civil war where traditions are being judged, gods are now false, and customs are being lost. The colonization through the use of Christianity slowly divides the people of Umoufia and seems to quickly destabilize the once established community. With the arrival of Reverend James Smith, Umoufia falls further into conflict as the Reverend implements a more

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