Explain the theme of fanaticism in "Things Fall Apart."What are exaples in the book that show the theme: people who adhere fanatically or narrowmindedly to their culture's values are headed for...

Explain the theme of fanaticism in "Things Fall Apart."

What are exaples in the book that show the theme: people who adhere fanatically or narrowmindedly to their culture's values are headed for disaster.

examples can be from Okonkwo or another character that displays the above theme.

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I disagree with this as a theme present in the novel.

In Things Fall Apart, both cultures (African and British) adhere fanatically to their respective cultural values, but it is not "adhering" to them that brings disaster.  Instead, both cultures foresake their cultural values for selfish values.  In the end, the cultural values are not to blame: it is the individual who gives them up.

Okonkwo breaks his Igbo cultural values repeatedly, which leads to his own exile and death.  During the Week of Peace, he beats his wife.  When told not to take part in the killing of Ikemefuna, Okonkwo slays the boy himself.  Knowing that his tribe is clearly outgunned by the British colonists, he nonetheless kills a British messenger, inciting more violence.  All of Okonkwo's tragic flaws lead to his personal disaster, but I am not sure they necessarily lead to the disaster of the tribe.  That was inevitable.

The British, too, make the same mistakes.  They govern, proselytize and colonize a people without understanding the Igbo cultural values, or their own.  They treat the Igbo religion as superstition and their polygamy as a sin.  Instead of adhering to their own cultural or Christian values, which stress tolerance and freedom, the British institutionalize the Igbo people.  The British Christians beat prisoners and burn churches.  How are these their culture's values?

The point of the novel is that both culture's values were undermined by other forces (technology, institutions, modernization, politics, and greed).

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