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Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe

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What features of the second and the third parts of Things Fall Apart contradict the first part?

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The universe punishes Okonkwo after the first part of the novel due to his hubris. He became so bent on appearing strong that he killed Ikemefuna, who was basically a son to him. Indeed, the participating event for the main character's banishment — one of unlucky chance, a rifle accidentally going off — can likely be read as a divine punishment evoked on Okonkwo.

So what lessons do the universe try to teach Okonkwo at the end of part one? That violence, power, and aggression are not the only forces out there — diplomacy, kindness, and calmness must also be exercised. So how does Okonkwo contradict these lessons he's taught?

The first way Okonkwo contradicts the lessons of part one is his rejection of his eldest son, Nwoye, after he joins the white missionaries. Nwoye acceptance of the new religion is a direct response to Okonkwo's killing of Ikemefuna, yet he refuses to bear any responsibility. Indeed, he resents the white missionaries so much it leads to his second contradiction: his extrajudicial killing of the messenger. Okonkwo once again believes his strength and power is enough to unite his people for war. But he is wrong, and unfortunately, the novel does not give him another chance. Okonkwo kills himself before he can be captured.

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I'm not quite sure what this question means, but many of the contradictions have to do with the character of Okonkwo and the arrival of the British. In these chapters, what were seen as "strengths" on Okonkwo's part (his masculinity, courage, prosperity, etc.) have now become weaknesses. He is broken by his years in exile, and the destructiveness of his anger is more evident than ever. His farm and crops are gone, and although he has 2 beautiful daughters ready to marry, he cannot initiate his sons into titled society immediately, as he intended. As he recognizes the threat the missionaries pose to the village, he speaks out, encouraging the men to go to war. Yet no one listens, and his frustration showcases how his bravery has become a liability.

In addition, solid foundations of the Ibo culture are cracking and splitting. Social structures are shattered by the acceptance of outcasts into the Christian church, and the converts grow bolder in their attacks on their native religion/society. This pits brother against brother, slowly eroding centuries of culture and civil structure.

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