Things Fall Apart deals with power and oppression in an interesting and perhaps rather unexpected way, given that one of its major themes is the effect of British imperialism in Africa. Although Achebe is at pains to show the dignity and sophistication of Igbo culture, he also depicts its brutality and oppressiveness, not least in Okonkwo, the central character.
At the beginning of the novel, Okonkwo has already become a powerful man, a great warrior and wrestler, and a wealthy farmer. He uses his power to rule his family with an iron fist, beating his wives and even on one occasion, shooting at one of them. He kills Ikemefuna, who has the position of an adopted son in his household, with a machete because he is afraid of being thought weak. This fear shows that Okonkwo is not only an oppressor but also the victim of a harsh and oppressive culture.
By way of contrast, the colonizing power which eventually comes to oppress the Igbo people initially seems benign and even rather feeble. The...
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