Compare and contrast Mr. Smith and Mr. Brown.

Expert Answers
gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When the Christian missionaries first enter Umuofia, they are led by the tolerant, understanding Reverend Brown. Mr. Brown discourages the new converts from being over-zealous and provoking the clan for their traditional beliefs. Achebe writes that Mr. Brown is respected throughout Umuofia because he "trod softly on its faith." Mr. Brown also goes out of his way to learn about the Igbo culture and religion by having discussions with Akunna in his obi. Akunna explains the clan's religion to Mr. Brown, and he gains additional perspective on the native community. Mr. Brown then establishes a school, and many clan members have an opportunity to gain a Western-style education.

After Mr. Brown dies, Reverend James Smith replaces him. Despite the fact that he is also a Christian missionary with hopes of converting many natives, Smith openly condemns Mr. Brown's tolerant policy of compromise and accommodation. Unlike Mr. Brown, Reverend Smith has a narrow perspective and sees things as "black and white." Achebe writes, "And black was evil" (65). Reverend Smith is portrayed as an over-zealous, harsh leader who openly criticizes the clan for their "heathen" practices. Reverend Smith has a different view of Christianity than Mr. Brown, which is less tolerant and accepting of other cultures. As a result of Reverend Smith's intolerant, challenging nature, zealous converts thrive, and conflict ensues between the church and the villagers. Enoch eventually unmasks an egwugwu during a ceremony, and the clan responds by burning down the church.

Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Reverend Brown leads the mission with a cool head, calmness, and patience. He does not try to foist his religion on the tribe but leads by living example.

When Brown becomes ill and must leave, he is replaced by the zealous Reverend Smith. He is the total opposite of Brown, loud, pushy and believes that he is "right" and the tribe is "wrong". He has no compunction about shoving his own religious views down their throats. Anyone bold enough to go against him is thought to be a devil-worshipper.

fashionableb1 | Student

Mr. Brown was the first missionary in Umoufia, he respected the Umoufian culture and people. Mr. Brown on the other hand did not respect the customs and promoted conflict and unrest between the Umoufians.

cosmogirl | Student

However, (In another paragraph) there are also various similarities between the two missionaries. Although Mr. Brown is the more "simpathetic" one with more understanding traits than Smith, its crucial not to forget that Mr.Brown's purposes to remind the reader of his real intentions. Mr.Brown, as clever as he is, still seeks a control, like all the rest of his fellow British, over the lands and societies of Africa. The comforting ways of Mr.Brown will convince the Igbos to be a part of his world, better than Mr.Smiths' methods of force and violence. If Smith and Brown make the Igbos believe in their customs, which a big part of that is religion, then they can share (take) the igbos' resources. Brown may seem more kind, but he still devishly wants the same cruel thing as Smith. 

Read the study guide:
Things Fall Apart

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question