In Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, what contributes to things falling apart in Umuofia? 

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dashing-danny-dillinger eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chinua Achebe's classic novel Things Fall Apart, there are two major factors that contribute to everything in Okonkwo's life and his home of Umuofia "falling apart." First, Umuofia changes drastically with the arrival of white Christian missionaries. These colonial representatives bring with them not only a strange, alien faith, but also European models of governance. This pervasive colonial influence is one of the major factors that cause everything in Okonkwo's life to fall apart. Toward the end of the novel, the narrator acknowledges how the white settlers have changed the region:

"There were many men and women in Umuofia who did not feel as strongly as Okonkwo about the new dispensation. The white man had indeed brought a lunatic religion.... And even in the matter of religion, there was a growing feeling that there might be something in it after all, something vaguely akin to method in the overwhelming madness" (178).

Next, Okonkwo's own rigid, staunch, brutally masculine values that are steeped in Umuofian tradition prevent him from successfully adjusting to the alterations that white settlers bring to the region. Indeed, things start falling apart for Okonkwo because his pride and stubborn nature do not allow him to adapt to the significant changes in Umuofia after he returns from his exile:

"Okonkwo was deeply grieved. And it was not just a personal grief. He mourned for the clan, which he saw breaking up and falling apart, and he mourned for the warlike men of Umuofia, who had so unaccountably become soft like women" (183).

Here, Okonkwo is incapable of accepting the changes that stem from colonialism, and he considers his clan a lost cause because they no longer share his rigid values.

For me, these are the two major factors that contribute to the tragic events that unfold throughout the novel.

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Things Fall Apart

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