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The religious beliefs in the novel are typical of Western Christianity; that it is a superior religion to that practiced by other cultures, and those other cultures should adopt it as their own. It was often used, as is the case in the novel, to advance Western interests at the expense of other cultures, by force if necessary. This is a theme widely seen in almost every instance of European imperialism. The novel illustrates that this type of forced cultural diffusion is not always acceptable, and certainly not always right. It illustrates that resistance is often futile, even though it is justified.
In the novel, when Okonkwo is exiled for seven years, he returns to find that his village has largely been "Christianized," or more appropriately "Westernized." When he and other leaders of his community resist by burning a church, he and others are imprisoned. When an armed resistance is in the making, Okonkwo realizes the futility of resistance and commits suicide, even though this is a violation of Igbo principles.
In this instance, forcible diffusion of Western ideas is successful; but is not right.
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