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What do you think of this culture that Achebe portrays in Things Fall Apart?  What are...

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delma1995 | eNoter

Posted September 19, 2013 at 8:39 PM via web

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What do you think of this culture that Achebe portrays in Things Fall Apart?  What are the good things and the weaknesses about it?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 20, 2013 at 5:20 AM (Answer #1)

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It is clear that there are strengths and weaknesses to the Igbo culture that Achebe presents the reader with in this novel. On the one hand, Achebe deliberately presents the Igbo culture in all of its sophistication and glory, helping his Western and white audience to see that the culture of Africans pre-colonisation was actually very developed, and that they were far from savages. There is a definite system of order, and rewards and punishments for those who comply or who break taboos, such as Okonkwo did during the Week of Peace. But at the same time, it is clear that there are some elements of the Igbo culture which are more difficult for Western readers to accept, and it is these elements that the missionaries are able to exploit when they arrive. For example, note how some of the earliest Christians were deliberately those who were shunned as "outcasts" or "osu" by the Igbo society as a whole:

These outcasts, or osu, seeing that the new religion welcomed twins and such abominations, thought that it was possible that they would also be received. 

The cultural practice of infanticide through the killing of twins is something that clearly cannot be agreed with, as is the case with the Igbo culture's shunning of other groups of people, such as those who are branded "osu" and therefore are not allowed to be part of the Igbo culture and their village in any way. The culture that Achebe presents us with therefore as readers is full of both the good and the bad, of elements we can applaud and also aspects that we must disagree with. 

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