Achebe Essay, Research Paper
In the book Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe is trying to give an explanation of what it is like to live in an African society. The story is about a man named Okonkwo is a member of the Ibo tribe. Achebe is telling the story of Okonkwo from his childhood till his death. Achebe did a very good job of illustrating a traditional African society. Achebe’s goal in writing this book was to educate people about some of the struggles people have and life in traditional African societies(Hanson 25). The title Things Fall Apart is a good choice for a title of this book.
Achebe wants to give a picture of society how it is in true life, not just how people talk about it or how people hear about the ways that are being lived in. He wants to write in his book how the true meaning of how these people lived should be told. Still, a writer can?t tell a story about someone with out having little contact or taking one perspective and writing about it the entire time. It is very diverse in how the areas of living in this culture can be seen in every day life.
I believe that Achebe tackles the African writing in a sense that shows the interpretation of how everyone is so alike, with all their problems, all the troubles, and the way each person lives their lives. The similarities can be counted in bunches to show that the growing up process of this book and the respect that Okonkwo gave to his father and how he wanted to be better than the way that he lived his life. The issues that are brought up in this book are the same as any other group of peoples issues are. These similarities are just to show that the misrepresentations of how some people may believe that the African society is different in complete ways to their own, which just isn?t true.
The misrepresentations of the world in which these people live in are responded to by, writing books to sent certain things straight with the reader or challenger. Basically Okonkwo’s life fell apart on him; hence I feel that the title Things Fall Apart is very fitting for this book. I thought that Achebe did a good job at writing this book. The purpose of this book was not directly stated, but it was implied(Jansen). The purpose was to show people what it is like growing up in a traditional African Society, and Achebe did a good job a showing that. The book is chronologically organized, starting with Okonkwo as a child and ending with his death(Hanson 28). The book is not biased, and I feel represents the African people as well as the white missionaries. It was ironic that both Okonkwo and his father, Unoka, ended up the same way. Both ended up being put in the evil forest after their death. Unoka ended up in the evil forest because he did from a strange disease, while Okonkwo ended up in the evil forest because he had killed a clansman. This was ironic because it seemed the Okonkwo tried to everything different from his father. Okonkwo did not agree with the way Unoka lived, and he told himself that he was not going to live that way. And for the most part his life was completely opposite of his father’s life. Even though they took completely different paths in life, their paths led them to the same place. The reason that the Ibo tribe had changed so much while Okonkwo was in exile for the seven years was the arrival of the missionaries in Africa. The missionaries accepted people who the Africans believed to be outcasts. The Africans thought that these people they thought to be outcasts would bring bad luck to the missionaries.
This showing the ways that Achebe told his story of these people is how he wanted their lives to be interpreted. The colonialism aspect of this book and how African writers respond to the mischievous misinterpretations is that the people of the story are confined to hold onto their heritage and from where their roots grow that is what they must cling to correctly tell the stories again of the lives they led. Imperialism of how their futures could be full of expansion and taking their roots and replanting them in more areas of land across spacious boundaries. Having love for ones country or heritage is a primary virtue and if you can take that thought and expand that it will give more people the sense of where you are coming from and lessen the chances of further misinterpretation.
In the book the community is very important to the survival of the tribe and the people often work together for the betterment of the tribe. There are also individual aspects in the Ibo society. Each person has his own chi, or personal god. This personal god is to watch over a person and protect them. Some people have a stronger chi than others, and they will achieve a higher standing in the society. This is very important to some of the people in the tribe, and Okonkwo is one of those people. He does a lot to help better the Ibo society, but he also wants to have a high standing in the Ibo society for himself. Overall I think that Chinua Achebe did a good job of painting a picture of a traditional African society. Many people, especially people from western countries, have no idea of what life is like in an African tribe. I would say that the strength of this book was the picture that it painted of the Ibo society. Achebe included several different points of view of live in African society.
The two different points of view that stick out in my mind are that of Okonkwo and Oberika. Oberika is a good friend of Okonkwo, but the two lead very different lifestyles. Okonkwo is very masculine, while Oberika could be considered more feminine. Okonkwo believes that the Ibo tribe needs to go to war with the missionaries and drive them out. Oberika feels otherwise and thinks that the two groups can coexist happily. Achebe also presented many different issues, which are important to African societies. Many of the customs and beliefs that are important to an African tribe were different to me. One of the main beliefs was the belief that twins were considered outcasts and they were put into the evil forest. But I feel that the way African tribes treat a person who kills a clansman is fair. In American society it seems that many people have been somewhat desensitized to murder. It happens so often that people don’t think much about it unless it directly affects them. In African societies this it the worst crime that a person could commit and will always end up in death for the person who committed the crime. So some of the customs and beliefs in an African society I have a hard time accepting, while others I can easily identify with.
In all effect the world of interpretations in African society of this book especially is that of what the readers want to believe. The more that stories cross paths and people read them the better most points will come across and allow the reader, not to misrepresent the ways of how specific stories are told. Achebe took this book and made it great, he is gifted with the magic of an ebullient generous, great talent (Gordimer).
Hansen, James ?African Associations In Society?,
Seattle WA : Bay Press, 1998, pp 18-30.
Jansen, Roland www.institutionallstories.com,
San Jose, CA 1998
Achebe, Chinua ?Things Fall Apart?,
Bantam Doubleday, NY, NY.