"Things Fall Apart  focuses on the customs and society of the Igbo, and the influence of British colonialism and Christian missionaries on the Igbo community during the late nineteenth century."...

"Things Fall Apart  focuses on the customs and society of the Igbo, and the influence of British colonialism and Christian missionaries on the Igbo community during the late nineteenth century." Please give your comments on the above idea.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the quoted idea stresses the thematic development of the novel. The focus of the novel in its exposition is the customs and society of the Igbo people.  Achebe understands that it is vitally important to depict a world where the reader understands the customs and society of the Igbo: “...no more than teach my readers that their past—with all its imperfections—was not one long night of savagery from which the first Europeans acting on God’s behalf delivered them.”  The customs and society of the Igbo help to establish the basis of the novel.  Okonkwo's world has to be established in the first part of the narrative, reflecting both the condition of his life and the strength he draws from it.  At the same time, the focus on the customs and society of the Igbo establishes the world that ends up "falling apart." The shifting of the world that Okonkwo knows is a significant part of the narrative. Achebe makes the argument that experiencing this disintegration is a significant part of the human predicament.  In this way, the quote is accurate in terms of the focus of the initial part of the novel.

The second part of the quote is another aspect that is essential to the narrative's construction.  Achebe is deliberate in wanting to create a vision where the influence of British colonialism and Christian missionaries on the Igbo community is evident.  This vision is a destructive one, seeking to replace the structure of the past with another one that silences voice and fails to take into account the indigenous condition of people like the Igbo.  It is only through showing this influence that Achebe is able to construct a stinging indictment of colonialism.  The brutality that resulted from it is of vital importance to him.  It is in this regard that I think Achebe is able to show the destructive influence of British colonialism and Christian missionaries.  This destructive influence is one of the most critical elements of Achebe's work.

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