Book Review: Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe's multi-million vendor Issues Fall Aside (1958) is broadly thought-about the primary main piece of African literature written in English. It dramatises the battle between the Igbo folks and their conventional lifestyle in a Nigerian village, and the profitable incursion of Christian Missionaries who carry not solely their faith, however legal guidelines and authorities as effectively. The novel is exceptional for its easy class of favor. Achebe's prose by no means over reaches itself, at all times discovering the precise proper phrase to explain character and state of affairs. What's all of the extra exceptional is that Issues Fall Aside, which is mature in tone and outlook, was written by a younger man in his twenties whose first language was not English.

Extreme Masculine Values ​​of Okonkwo, and Their Penalties

The story facilities round clansman Okonkwo, a married wrestler who by way of onerous work builds up his place in his village, Umuofia. Okonkwo's strongest motivation to succeed as a revered (and presumably feared) member of his village is the poor instance of his weak and spendthrift father, Unoka. Unoka irresponsibly borrowed an excessive amount of cash and by no means bothered about paying his collectors again in a well timed style. He was additionally cowardly in battle. Total, Okonkwo thinks his father was far too effeminate and womanish. Being an excessive amount of like a lady is a typical criticism within the novel, describing a prevailing angle of the clansmen (however not essentially of Achebe himself).

Okonkwo's urge to outline himself in distinction from his father results in some deadly character flaws. He turns into too inflexible and masculine, ceaselessly beating his wives and displaying a normal intolerance for something he perceives as weak spot. His robust masculine values ​​quickly end up to not be an indication of power, however quite of weak spot: Okonkwo worries excessively about how he’s considered by others, which leads him to evolve to the clan, quite than train extra unbiased judgment. His masculine values ​​find yourself being extra about maintaining appearances, quite than private integrity.

Essentially the most tragic and disturbing instance of this wanting to evolve to main opinion is when Okonkwo kills Ikemefuna, the boy prisoner who’s taken from one other clan as a peace settlement. What makes this episode doubly stunning is the truth that Ikemefuna has nearly turn out to be like a member of the family, however when the clansmen determine Ikemefuna have to be killed (they’ve acquired a message from the Oracle), Okonkwo is warned by the oldest man within the village to don’t have anything to do with this killing. However Okonkwo doesn’t 'hear, and attends. Worse nonetheless, when Ikemefuna realizes he’s in mortal hazard from the clansmen he calls out to Okonkwo for assist, solely to obtain the deadly blow from his personal foster father.

This primary a part of the novel, which makes up for a elementary a part of the story, delineates the tradition, legal guidelines, faith and customs of the Umuofia. Achebe exhibits each the cruelties and humanity of this African village tradition. His descriptions of the folks additionally exhibits considerate psychological perception. The over all image is certainly one of a nuanced, absolutely functioning society.

The Coming of the Christian Missionaries

In components two and three of Issues Fall Aside, the plot strikes rapidly. Okonkwo finds himself exiled for seven years after unintentionally killing a clansman. When he returns, partially three, he finds the Umuofia present process huge adjustments. Christian missionaries have turned up on the scene and have arrange a rival Church. The Church makes regular inroads into the village, its new Christian doctrine interesting to many. The Church is simply the tip of the iceberg although, as Christianity is only a preamble for white authorities, economic system and legislation. As soon as Okonwko realizes his fellow clansmen are unable to withstand this regular incursion, he comes to a decision that ends in tragedy.

A lot of Issues Fall Aside has the air of a Greek tragedy, as Okonkwo walks inexporably in the direction of his destiny. The novel provides a balanced view of either side on this battle between white colonialists and African villagers. The Igbo folks and their lifestyle will not be romantacised, nor are its extra disturbing elements sanitised. Achebe, it appears, has striven to provide a sensible and dignified image of indigenous tradition. The Christian missionaries range of their fashion and strategy. Mr Brown is extra culturally delicate and cautious of the villagers, whereas Reverend James Smith is dangerously boastful. Issues Fall Aside exhibits how a potent and highly effective Christian theology can be utilized, nearly unconsciously, to usher in an aggressive cultural and political take over.

Issues Fall Aside, by Chinua Achebe. Revealed by Anchor. ISBN-13: 978-0385474542