Anyone seeking to understand two of the many changes that occur in Chinua Achebe’s classic book Things Fall Apart must focus on the following items: one must examine the impact of the introduction of scientific thought, which challenged many pre-existing concepts such as religion and faith held by the people of Umuofia, and also how the shift in economics removed a much-needed evaluation criterion of manhood for the indigenous population.
As with many people, the traditions of the people of Umuofia rested heavily on an unexamined faith system. The people of Umuofia inherited traditions and belief systems from their ancestors and adhered to them through a process of faith. Consider for a moment that there was a widely held belief that if one entered into "the Evil Forest," they would surely die. Hence, when European missionaries built their church inside of what the African tribesmen considered a cursed place, everyone expected for them to die. However, when death did not arrive, the indigenous population was faced with unprecedented questions about religion, faith, and belief systems. Making matters worse for the entire village was the fact that many of the issues being raised caused villagers to view belief systems that had served as foundational pillars of their people since their origins.
In addition to the introduction of Christianity, the transformation of their economy into a more formalized system of commerce based on money proved particularly detrimental to Umuofia. No longer would tribesmen be allowed to use yams to secure goods. The abandonment of this method of trade caused multiple reverberating harms to the people of Umuofia. The accumulation of yams, a most challenging crop to grow, as it needs constant tending to, was not only used for trade but also served as an efficient manner of evaluating the worth and utility of a man. Once Europeans replaced the barter system with one relying on money, there was little opportunity for the people of Umuofia. This moment is particularly revealing—it forced the indigenous people to submit and work for Europeans, as they held all of the money that became increasingly important to locals' daily survival.
After reading Achebe’s work, it is evident that the introduction of scientific thought, which served as an adversary to traditional faith systems, and the scrapping of yams as a method of trading in favor of European-controlled currency were crucial issues that ensured that Things Fall Apart.