Proverbs In Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

Good Essays
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
…show more content…
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

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    As a result, many clan members are inspired to embrace Christianity to evaluate themselves instead of letting another force criticize them. This ultimately angers Okonkwo because he will not have access to his people for assistance in his mission to rid the Western influence and his level of respect in the clan would wither. No matter how hard he encourages his tribesmen to impede the madness, his attempts are always futile. While his people are torn apart by Christianity and surrendered to the invaders, Okonkwo remains confident, but his determination begins to decay. Once the conflict between Okonkwo and the missionaries reaches a climax, he decides to give up on his mission which leads to his ultimate…

    • 917 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    However, it is worth examining whether there may also have been certain internal forces that could have also brought the gradual destruction of the culture. The missionaries brought religion, commerce, government and law to Umofia. This is no doubt a disruption to the Ibo’s ordinary lifestyle but many Ibo people find something appealing in the missionaries and decide to follow their God instead ,as Nwoye had does. The fact that so many Ibo people joined the church shows that they might not have been happy following their own culture and the missionaries arriving was just a way for them to show…

    • 1332 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    When the white missionaries arrive in Mbanta and begin to establish their presence, Okonkwo is disgusted by the clan’s compliance and apprehension towards the new settlers. He claims that “this was a womanly clan…such a thing could never happen in his fatherland” (159). After constantly comparing the two clans’ cultures, Okonkwo’s choice to holdfast to his beliefs signifies his refusal to alter his ways and adapt to the changes in Mbanta. This decision further drowns him when he returns to Umuofia. Like Mbanta, Umuofia has also been influenced by the arrival of the missionaries.…

    • 1220 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian author whose universally appreciated novel, Things Fall Apart, provides a voice to an ill-treated and unrepresented culture. Things Fall Apart took place in Umuofia in the 1880’s, before and during the first arrival of European missionaries. Weary of reading westerner’s interpretations of how socially backward, illiterate, and uncivilized Africans were, Chinua Achebe wished to reveal a better insight of the Ibo culture and, in doing so, preserve the wellbeing of his continent. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart displays the natives of Africa with an appropriate level of complexity to contrast the Westerner’s overly- simplified perspective using an objective tone, meaningful symbolism, and an Africanized writing…

    • 1463 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    This quote shows that Okonkwo is having a hard time understanding and accepting the white people’s religion. This is because the white people are saying that the Ibo Gods aren’t real and won’t do any harm. Since Okonkwo has always been taught that the Ibo Gods aren’t harmless, this is what he believes. This is why he can’t believe that his Gods aren’t real. The introduction of Western ideas also affects Okonkwo’s interaction with his son, Nwoye.…

    • 870 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The White Missionaries are against polygamy because Christianity forbid such an act . In Umuofia society, a man’s success in farming, the number of wives and children he has, and the size of his obi , are important to his esteem and influence in the clan. The man of repute “wears title as signs of the authority and power that comes with prosperity” (Gikandi, 37). Achebe reports that “Age was respected […], but achievement was revered” (TFA,p. 8) among the Igbo people.…

    • 707 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Thus, Nwoye’s ethical struggle drives him to depart from his tribe and convert to Christianity, mirroring the greater religious conflict within the novel. allows Achebe to discuss the influence of religion on the perception of “justice.” In Heart of Darkness, Achebe introduces the contrast between Okonkwo and Nwoye which serves to frame Nwoye’s search for justice. Okonkwo is defined by his fear of becoming like his father, a man perceived by Okonkwo as being weak. This fear of weakness drives Okonkwo’s commitment to militancy, and his desire to be a defender of the tribe and the tribe’s way of life. Thus,…

    • 1172 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    "but apart from the church, the white men had also bought a government"(147).The tribe believes that the white man 's government "judged cases in ignorance" (147). The church is completely disregarding cultural and religious customs. Some are harsh, like the throwing away of twins, but it is what they 've been taught. They shouldn 't be punished, but the Christians are taking these things as bad against their own religion and basically keeping the tribe from fulfilling their customs, and therefore forcing them to convert as they can 't perform their own rituals that are sacred, and don 't want to face wrath. The clansmen realize this is happening, and that the tribe will eventually succumb if they don 't do something.…

    • 2022 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The church preaches the ideals of Christ, loving one another as equals, but practices another, ignoring those that are different in color and social class. Dr. King believed in the Christian faith, but he believed the church was not doing what Christ would have wanted. Some people should not be living in inordinate wealth, while others are living in abject poverty. Nevertheless, Dr. King blames the church for “the confusion, the hesitation, the bitterness and violence that threatened the survival of humankind” (Baldwin 30). Henceforth, Dr. King challenged the church to change its structure and create a moral balance enabling all men and women to live together in peace and harmony.…

    • 1205 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    As well, Okonkwo well feel hopeless because the people that follow the ibo culture will be converting into christians. People do have the ability to prove wrong others that doubt them for being different. As mentioned, “The first day passed and the second, and third..and none dead.. It became known that the white man’s fetish had unbelievable power”(Achebe 149). This…

    • 1015 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays