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English Assignment

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Western University
English 1024E
Bob Larose

Sean Prendergast Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Achebe was born November 16, 1930, in Ogidi, a village in Nigeria. He was born to a Nigerian mother and a Christian missionary father. His birth name was Albert Achebe but he later decided that he did not like his Christian European name and changed it to Chinua, an indigenous one. He studied theology and history in college which sparked his interest in writing. In many of his works he describes the effect of British colonization on Nigeria. He has an excellent perspective to go by because his parents’ opinions represented both sides of conflict. In Things Fall Apart, he writes about a man named Okonkwo, who is a wealthy and prominent warrior of the Umuofia clan, a fictional clan in Nigeria.Okonkwo is the prototypical man in his tribe. He is a strong, brave provider with many children and wives. He has two sons, one of which is his actual son, named Nwoye, and the other is a visiting boy from another tribe, who he prefers. Nwoye considers Ikemefuna, the visiting boy, an older brother and begins to shape himself similarly to him, much to his father’s satisfaction. One day, the Elder of the tribe orders that Ikemefuna is not welcome and must be killed. He attempts to return him to his village and but is caught by fellow clansman and, in an attempt of redemption, kills Ikemefuna. Shortly after this tragedy, the Elder who ordered him killed died. At his funeral, more tragedy strikes when Okonkwo’s gun accidentally goes off and kills the elder’s 16 year old son. Seen as an act of revenge following the killing of his “son”, Okonkwo and his family are banished from the village and forced to live with his uncle of the Mbanta village. While in exile, the tribe is visited by a group of European Missionaries who attempt to convert the tribe to Christianity. They tell the Mbanta that their beliefs are wrong and that their god is the only true god. The Mbanta attempt to promote the idea that they worship their own gods and they are sacred to them, but the leader of the missionaries, a rude and strict man named James Smith, says this is unacceptable. He proceeds to remove the spiritual mask of a wise man during their ceremony to honour the Earth Deity, which is considered the equivalent of killing a departed kinsman. In retaliation, the villagers burn down his church. All the leaders of the tribe are then abused physically and verbally and thrown in jail. However, through all this abuse the Mbanta tribe stays peaceful and non-violent. Okonkwo attempts to start a rebellion and kills James Smith with a machete, expecting it to spark the rest of the village. However, they still refuse to go to war and remain peaceful. Okonkwo, fearing retaliation kills himself, which is a great sin in his culture and is left to rot. This novel is a good example of the struggle between civility and savagery. The Missionaries believe themselves to be civil and the Mbanta savage, however by the end, it is shown through the characters that the missionaries are truly the savages. This novel is the perfect example of the post-colonial ideals expressed by many colonizers from Europe. They believe that, outside of Europe, they are the only civil humans and that their beliefs are the only truly correct ones. For example, when the missionaries visited the Mbanta tribe they immediately deem the natives savage and lesser. They tell them that their gods are false and that Christianity is the only acceptable religion. They immediately assumed that because their way of life was so different than that of the Europeans, that it was savage. This is reflective of the North American, European view we see today. Many parts of other cultures are seen as so foreign they are di
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