How far do you agree that the coming of the missionaries was a bad thing for Umuofia?
Was it entirely bad that the missionaries had arrived in Umuofia, and broken the things that had held the villiage together, the reason for Okonkwo's downfall and eventual suicide, or was it good because they had brought about trading, a government, education and other ammenties?
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I think that this becomes one of the central issues of Achebe's work. The idea of "things fall apart" helps to evoke that some of the "bad elements" also "fall apart" in giving way to the new. There is a new order and part of what drives Okonkwo to the level it does is because of the absence of the past. Okonkwo recognizes that what does fall apart is what the village used to be, giving way to the present and potential future. He cannot embrace the reality of what the Western influence has brought into the village in terms of modernization, new access to greater opportunity and the like.
It is in this point where Achebe is suggesting that the entire premise of colonization has to be assessed in a larger frame of reference. When "things fall apart," it also helps to bring out the idea that some of the bad falls out with it. The new vision that Okonkwo and all of the Ibo have to address is a new reality where the past has become transformed. In this world of what has disintegrated, the question becomes how individuals will adapt to this transformative element. I believe that it is to this end that the novel does not make a definitive statement, but rather, like its characters, provides a reality where the reader must assess and apply these principles of adaptation to their own being in the world. It is to this end that I believe that Achebe does not clearly suggest either way that the reality of the Europeans is good or bad, but rather one of adaptation and change.
I actually do not believe that the coming of the missionaries were a bad thing for the Ibo people. For example there were people in the village that were like Nwoye who really questioned the Ibo culture. Nwoye did not understand why the villagers had to follow what the oracle said (the killing of Ikemefuna) and why they had to put twins in the evil forest. The coming of the missionaries allow people like Nwoye to escape from their culture. This is why I believe that the coming of the missionaries to the Ibo village is not entirely bad.
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