How does colonization change Nwoye in Things Fall Apart?

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kcoleman2016 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart, Nwoye is the son of the protagonist Okonkwo. Nwoye initially idolizes his father, who is perceived as the height of Igbo masculinity. This idolatry is compounded by the fact that Okonkwo is extremely derisive of Nwoye, dismissing him as weak and effeminate. Okonkwo's violent rejection of Nwoye makes Nwoye simply love him more and work harder for his approval. 

This relationship is undermined by Okonkwo's role in the death of Ikemefuna, his adoptive son. Unlike Nwoye, Ikemefuna was developing into a promising young man, and he and Nwoye became very close. Okonkwo himself remarks on the positive effects that Ikemefuna has on Nwoye's masculine development. 

With Ikemefuna's death, Nwoye is sent reeling without either role model. He cannot model his own growth on Ikemefuna's, and so retreats into his status as an outlier of Igbo society. He also can no longer truly model himself after his father, whose actions he finds so deplorable. 

As such, with the arrival of the missionaries and European colonization, Nwoye takes advantage of an opportunity to belong to a community. He fully embraces Christianity, a society in which many of his characteristics, perceived as weaknesses by the Igbo, are strengths. He goes so far as to change his name, reject his culture, and leave his home. As strongly as Okonkwo fights against colonization, Nwoye embraces it. 

user487902 | Student

He first used to idolize his father but then got distanced when Ikeumufuna was killed. The Christian religion made doubts in him and then soon after he left his father to learn more about Christianity.

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Things Fall Apart

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