In Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, what's the resolution of the main conflict?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Things Fall Apart, the main conflict is that Okonkwo can't accept the changes that Christianity and westernization have brought to his village. He has always gotten prestige and esteem from his village by being a strong wrestler and by being unfailingly willing to display traditional masculine behaviors. For example, he even kills his adopted son, Ikemefuna, whom he loves, because that is what the oracle of the village decrees. However, when he is in exile for killing a man at a funeral by mistake, the town changes, so that Okonkwo's values and traditions are no longer the accepted ways of doing things. Christianity draws the weaker members of the village, including his own son, and Okonkwo retaliates by burning down the church. In response, the white foreigners imprison the tribal elders, and it's clear that the whites have the upper hand in the conflict between traditional and new values. To resolve this conflict, Okonkwo hangs himself, in violation of his own traditions. This is, sadly, the only method he knows to extricate himself from the onslaught of western traditions in his village.