Chinua Achebe wrote the novel Things Fall Apart in response to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, which portrays native Africans as uncivilized barbarians. Achebe provides a unique insight into the rich cultural traditions of the Igbo people by illustrating their religion, marriage ceremonies, legal system, farming traditions, and interactions with neighboring clans. In many ways, particularly in regard to the justice system, the Igbo culture is portrayed as more civilized and rational than those institutions in Europe. The numerous ceremonies, traditional customs, and formalized interactions depict the Igbo people as being civilized individuals, which contrasts with how earlier Europeans viewed native Africans.
Despite the highly structured, traditional society, some customs could be read as uncivilized, which include leaving infant twins to die in the Evil Forest and the seemingly unjust death of Ikemefuna. However, Achebe illustrates that these violent actions are connected to the complex traditional religious beliefs of the Igbo people. Unfortunately, Europeans used these controversial customs to portray the Igbo people in a negative light and perpetuated the false stereotype that native Africans were uncivilized people.