Nigerian Colonialism in Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe’s novel, “Things Fall Apart,” written in 1958, focuses on the colonialism in Nigeria. Colonialism is the social, political, economic, and cultural practices which arise in response and resistance to colonialism. This novel follows the Igbo tribe as it was colonized in Africa. A man named Okonkwo was the leader of this village and wanted to be well known in all the villages since he was little. He wanted this because his father was a failure in his eyes and that was not acceptable for him. This man worked very hard to make his goal come true. However, he was so wrapped up in making this goal come true that his life began to fall apart. Okonkwo did not want to look weak in anyone’s eyes and this flaw made him behave in ways that he made quick decisions. These decisions made trouble and sadness come to both he and his family.

“The white man is very clear. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers. And our clan no longer act like one. He put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.” Okonkwo’s society falls apart and he loses things he holds dear to him such as his traditions and language. He does not was the change that he feels is being forced on him and he tries hard to hold onto the values and practices that were a tradition in his society all his life. He is trying to do this at the time that there is an invasion of Europeans who completely ruin this traditional African society. “Things Fall Apart” is written in two parts. The part goes day by day in the lives of the Ibo people and the second part discusses the European missionaries coming in and doing their thing to make changes. Moving from living in the day to day clan of the Ibo to having to make harsh changes to your life and give up traditions and values you hold dear becomes very difficult. The missionaries that come in have a huge impact on the Ibo people. They are able to take over and change the tribe into Christian people. Okonkwo was very upset when his oldest son, Nwoye, converted to Christianity. Okonkwo had big plans for his oldest son and now his son chose the white man’s religion. Okonkwo hangs himself because he could not accept all of the changes in his life.

When the language switched from native tongue to English with the coming of the white man, this is an example of the interrelationship between morality and literacy. Another example of post-colonialism is how the novel ends. The last paragraph of the novel discusses how the District Commissioner plans to write a book on his experiences and not with how people that the reader had come to identify with turned out. The novel, Things Fall Apart, is a great example of what Nigeria once was and explains how it has changed. It shows how this group of people learned to deal with change, how change can and does affect each individual person in a different way, and how changes can sneak up on people and come slowly that these changes occur and people are surprised that they have already happened. True post-colonialism deals with a cultural identity in colonized societies and the ways in which societies deal with these changes. This novel portrays post-colonialism in a big way.

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