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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe
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Thorugh the subjective history of Okonkwo and the collective history of igbo people, Achebe shows the crisis of transition of Igbo society. Trace this from Things Fall Apart.

Things Fall Apart concerns the disintegration of tradition in a society. The transition between old and new ways of life seems gradual at first, but the changes seem to happen in a way that fundamentally alters the ways the community comes together. Okonkwo's suicide after his son joins the colonist Christian church symbolizes the end of traditional culture.

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As the title suggests, Thing Fall Apart is about the disintegration of a society. Okonkwo is in exile during the most rapid phase of change in Umuofia, which adds to his sense of helplessness. He is a spectator in much the same way as the reader. During his exile he hears stories of the ways the place where he grew up and made a success of his life has changed almost beyond recognition.

There are some sudden shocks, such as the complete destruction of Abame. For the most part, however, the disintegration of the tribe is slow and insidious rather than dramatic and violent. The growth of the Christian church is the most important instance. At first, the church does not seem like a threat to the community. It is built on land no one wants, and the only people who join are outcasts from the tribe. The pastor is a gentle and conciliatory figure.

Slowly, however, the church becomes more influential and its members, who now include more prominent people, become aggressive. The old pastor leaves and a more confrontational one arrives. Finally, Okonkwo's son Nwoye joins the church. His choice drives his father to despair. By the time the people of the village destroy the church, the church has already destroyed their old culture. The colonists's actions against the society lead directly to Okonkwo's suicide, which symbolizes the death of his community and their traditional culture.

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