Sunday, January 15, 2006

Chinua Achebe's
Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is set in the 1890s and portrays the clash between Nigeria’s white colonial government and the traditional culture of the indigenous Ibo people. Achebe’s novel shatters the stereotypical European portraits of native Africans. He is careful to portray the complex, advanced social institutions and artistic traditions of Ibo culture prior to its contact with Europeans. Yet he is just as careful not to stereotype the Europeans; he offers varying depictions of the white man, such as the mostly benevolent Mr. Brown, the zealous Reverend Smith, and the ruthlessly calculating District Commissioner.

Paul Brians, Department of English, Washington State University says it better than I can say: "Achebe is trying not only to inform the outside world about Ibo cultural traditions, but to remind his own people of their past and to assert that it had contained much of value. All too many Africans in his time were ready to accept the European judgment that Africa had no history or culture worth considering." "He also fiercely resents the stereotype of Africa as an undifferentiated 'primitive' land, the 'heart of darkness,' as [Joseph] Conrad calls it. Throughout the novel he shows how African cultures vary among themselves and how they change over time."

When one culture brings their religion and way of life to another, it sort of melds together and creates a whole new religion using elements of both of the others. With this comes conflict, division, and though some good may come of it, it also brings different kinds of problems to deal with.

Since change occurs in most cultures over time, it is my opinion that Achebe was showing that interference from the outsiders caused the Ibo culture to fall apart. The culture likely would have changed over time, however it most likely would not have fallen apart.


Susan said...

This is such a beautiful website. I love the photographs of the authors.

Stardust said...

Thanks for the comment, I hope you stop by again. I plan on posting more of the books I have read in the past and recent years.