Illustration of a person holding their head next to a noose and a detached head

Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe
Start Free Trial

In Things Fall Apart, how do the Christians gain entrance into Ibo society? Does Achebe portray them in a positive or a negative light?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Chinua Achebe's celebrated novelThings Fall Apart , the white European missionaries gain entry into Igbo society by initially establishing a trading post, which brings the village of Umuofia great wealth as the price of palm-oil increases. Although the majority of the villagers find the Christian religion complex...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

In Chinua Achebe's celebrated novel Things Fall Apart, the white European missionaries gain entry into Igbo society by initially establishing a trading post, which brings the village of Umuofia great wealth as the price of palm-oil increases. Although the majority of the villagers find the Christian religion complex and confusing, they do not mind the white missionaries, who are relatively restrained and passive. The villagers also enjoy the benefits of the trading post, and goods become more accessible to their community. In addition to the trading post, the European missionaries also establish a school and hospital. The idea of learning how to read and write is attractive to the villagers, and the hospital also benefits the village of Umuofia.

Gradually, the white missionaries establish a strong foothold in Umuofia and their congregation steadily begins to grow as more respected members of the Igbo village begin to convert to Christianity. While Achebe portrays some of the benefits missionaries bring to Igbo society, he does not necessarily depict the white Europeans in a favorable light. For example, Achebe writes that Mr. Brown decided that "a frontal attack" on the village would not succeed. This comment is significant, because Achebe is illustrating that the primary mission of the Europeans is to undermine the Igbo culture and assimilate the population. As the story progresses, the missionaries introduce European bureaucracy into the region and completely undermine the traditional Igbo way of life.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team